The comic Lucy Porter’s new show is called ‘The Good Life’. And that’s just what she’s found in Holloway
By Roseanna Greenstreet
Lucy Porter, 33, lives in Holloway, north London. She rents a flat with her friend Matty, 29, a performance artist. For the past 11 years Porter has been a stand-up comic, writer and actor. Last year she won the Fringe Report Award for Best Stand-Up. In 2004/5 she acted alongside Christian Slater in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in London’s West End. She has written for television and has appeared on programmes such as Never Mind The Buzzcocks. She will be at the Edinburgh Fringewith her new show, The Good Life, from 2 August.
I was living on my own in Elephant and Castle, in a flat belonging to my sister. I quite liked living alone at first but then I found it depressing. You travel a lot doing comedy, and I’d come back after being away to a layer of dust all over all my stuff and no one to talk to. So my friend Matty and I decided to look for a two-bedroom flat to share.
We saw some absolute hellholes. There was one with no living room that clearly wasn’t even two bedrooms – someone had just stuck a wall in the middle of one room. In the end, Matty found this place through Foxtons. It’s an upstairs flat in a house, which we think is Georgian. We liked the place because it’s got a garden and it has high ceilings, so it’s light and airy. We moved in a few months ago. We pay £270 a week rent but, because we are both scatty, we keep forgetting, which isn’t ideal. I’ve now set up a standing order.
The flat was pretty much furnished when we moved in and everything else belongs to Matty, including the original Blackpool illumination against the fireplace.
Nothing in the flat is mine. When I first moved to London, I was living in Brixton with some heroin addicts, so we never had anything in the flat because they sold everything to get drugs. It taught me that you can’t get too attached to your possessions. Now I own nothing except a mattress and a load of props from all my shows, which are in storage. I have bought a lamp, but I haven’t a bulb for it yet, so it’s not up and running.
The flat is completely squalid because I am just not a housework person, I just can’t get round to it. I write the voice-over script for a show on BBC3 called Anthea Turner: Perfect Housewife. Anthea gives people tips on how to keep their house nice and clean and tidy. Today, I was writing about tidying up thinking, “I should actually be tidying up.”
Anthea says that when you are vacuuming up, you should put a pop sock over the nozzle, so you don’t pick up hair clips and stuff. The very idea of vacuuming up is alien to me! She tells you how to clean grouting with bicarbonate of soda, use vinegar to clean mirrors and what makes a nice table arrangement. I’ve a little dead-flower arrangement – they were given to me when I moved in and were lovely at the time. We’ve some knickers on the radiator – that’s always a good thing in a girls’ flat. Anthea is always on about how CDs and DVDs are not ornaments and you mustn’t have these things displayed in your house. In fact, the only things I do possess are my Father Ted, Seinfeld and Spaced DVDs and I’m afraid they are on display.
I’m trying to embrace recycling at the moment. That’s why there’s a bowl of rotting things on the window sill of the galley kitchen, a pile of empty bottles, cans and jars waiting to be recycled and even a little heap of teabags – apparently you can rip them apart and recycle them. Islington Council are meant to give you all this stuff to help you recycle – like bins for your organic and cardboard waste – but we’ve had nothing yet. So, in the meantime, it all just sits here.
Upstairs, we’ve two double bedrooms. Mine looks a little bit like a monk’s cell, but with clothes. The window looks out on to Arsenal’s new Emirates Stadium, which is at the end of the road. The stadium is meant to be opening this season and has something like a 60,000 capacity: it’s going to be absolutely insane on match days. Just outside my room, I have a small built-in wardrobe which contains my favourite new shoes – they are silver and from Karen Millen. Matty’s room is bigger – we didn’t fight over the bedrooms because I’m hardly ever here. Normally I’d be away five nights out of 10, so all I need is a place to lay my head.
I love having a garden more than anything else in the world. I used to have an allotment in Elephant and Castle, but I couldn’t keep it up. When we looked round this flat, the garden was completely overgrown and we said, “Why don’t you leave it and we’ll do it.” But the landlady decided to put stones and paving down; so in our bathroom are all these plants that we bought and have nowhere to put. We’ve also masses of seeds. We had all these high ideas before we moved in about growing all our own organic vegetables, but it hasn’t worked out. Part of the plan was that I was going to grow carrots for my show, which is called The Good Life, and give them away to the audience. Now I’ll have to buy organic ones and grubby them up a bit!
This is not an area that I know at all yet and I’m loving discovering new places. I go swimming every day at Highbury Pool and use that as my starting point to go for a little wander. The other day I found myself in among all these very smart Islington houses where Tony Blair used to live, then two minutes the other way there are these massive council estates. It’s a varied area and nicer than Elephant and Castle. I’ve a local pub called the Tollington, which has just been refurbished – they do a nice Sunday lunch. And there are lots of nice little restaurants and a cinema. I’ve also got a Waitrose as my local shop – that’s a dream come true for me. I truly feel middle class now that I’ve a Waitrose and I’m not shopping in Morrisons!