There’s never been a better time to have an aversion to effort. Fuelled by a heady mix of collective laziness and a perceived lack of free time, a new breed of smartphone app has rocketed to popularity: the convenience app; the concierge app; the can’t be bothered doing it myself app. All of them developed by Silicon Valley billionaires who hate doing their own laundry, for people like me who refuse to move their own limbs.
From the chore-offloading services of TaskRabbit and Handy to the courier apps of Deliveroo and Jinn, we exist in a golden age of push-button laziness. But just how useful are these things? And is it possible to get through an entire day without lifting more than a solitary index finger, relying solely on apps to wash, clean, transport, deliver, feed and entertain me?
Bravely, I slump on to the couch. I’m going to find out.
ZipJet – 9:00am
Laundry is the head of the ball-ache family, a big pile of tumbling nonsense that never ends but must somehow be completed. It’s a damp and unrelenting nightmare – all of those clothes and the different shapes and colours they come in.
Do things still shrink in the dryer, or does that only happen in 90s sitcoms? Can you wash colours with whites, or will everything turn pink? Surely the washing machine scientists have solved these problems by now? And why do modern detergent tablets look like (but not taste like) Haribo? Why can’t we all just wear government issued onesies?
Enter ZipJet, an app that will whisk away your mucky keks and have them scrubbed and returned to your doorstep 24 hours later.You set a pick-up and a drop-off time, tell them how much laundry you’ve got and whether anything needs special attention (dry cleaning and ironing costs a little extra) and your clothes come back neatly folded and ready to soil all over again.
£25 covered two big sacks of clothes and half a dozen pressed shirts. This is hardly the fastest or the most economical way to do laundry, but it’s almost certainly the laziest. And that’s really all that matters.
Handy – 11:00am
With my laundry taken care of, it’s now time to consider the second biggest annoyance in life. Unhung pictures. I can’t stand them. Sitting around on the floor like they’re in some bohemian art gallery. If I’m going to be spending the day stuck on this sofa, I’m simply going to have to do something about these unhung picture frames lying all about the place.
Primarily a cleaning service, Handy is an app that’ll summon a subservient human to do pretty much any odd job around the house. Book at least a day in advance and a fully clothed and fully qualified professional will turn up with all the tools and equipment they need to get the job done.
The folks they send round are largely freelance labourers, filling in gaps in their work schedule with Handy-commissioned jobs. My guy told me he was once the head handyperson at the old BBC Television Centre in White City, so he may even have hung pictures for such luminaries as Bill Oddie and Sian Williams.
A consummate professional with a deep respect for client privacy, he refused to reveal what kind of crap BBC presenters hang on their walls. But he enthusiastically and expertly slung my pictures up in no time at all. By noon my view from the sofa has been measurably improved. It’s time for lunch.
Olio – 1:00pm
A bizarre app that allows neighbours to give away their leftover and unwanted food, Olio is a part of our new sharing economy. It’s a noble concept, aiming to reduce food waste and help people to spend less, but there’s an unshakeable weirdness to the idea of walking to a stranger’s house to pick up six litres of nearly expired milk.
Perusing the undesired grub of north London, I happened upon three quarters of a box of Frosted Shreddies going free a few doors down. “My nephew came to stay, so I bought these,” the listing reads. “I’m a muesli lover. Would anyone like them?”
Hell yeah I’d like them. I instructed a flatmate to collect the Shreddies and within minutes was eating them. If you’re reading this, that means they weren’t poisoned in the slightest.
TaskRabbit – 3:15pm
I’m making a decent sized divot in the sofa now, my limp body sinking further and further into the cushions as the afternoon progresses. But there are things that need doing. Heavy things in boxes that need to be in places where they currently aren’t. Stuff needs picking up and moving about. Chores need choring.
I feel cheated by an unfair universe that these chores even exist, much less that I’m expected to do them, and so I turn to TaskRabbit, an app that pairs you up with a Tasker willing to carry out almost any job.
You can call on them to clean, to queue, to build furniture, to carry out DIY jobs, transcription, personal assistance or gardening. Pretty much any task you can think of, as long as you don’t ask them to form a human pyramid or hurl themselves off a bridge.
My chore isn’t so tricky. At the top of my staircase lives a collection of boxes of crap. One is filled with cables that I never use but would definitely need if I chucked them in the bin. Another contains two copies of Barton Fink on DVD and a shoe horn. A third box contains myriad smaller boxes, each one containing yet more boxes. Presumably this continues all the way down to the atomic level, where I’ve stored individual electrons in little proton-sized chests.
Arriving in just under an hour, Adam and Juan from TaskRabbit dragged the whole lot up into the attic piece by piece, even lugging a ladder from the basement up three flights of stairs to gain access to the aerial junkyard that is our loft space.
They’re good guys, Adam and Juan, and I briefly consider paying them to be my friends for the rest of the day. But they’ve got places to be, and I’ve got a sofa to keep warm.
Jinn – 4:00pm
Having paid the man from ZipJet to come and take all of my dirty clothes away, I’m now squalid and wardrobe-impoverished, festering away in my living room like a neglected grandparent. I could order new clothes online, but who has time to wait three to five days for delivery? I’ll be long dead by then, if my present trajectory is anything to go by.
Instead I call upon the services of courier service Jinn, who proudly claim to be able to pick up anything from anywhere “as long as it’s legal”.
The app is disarmingly straightforward: choose the location and the thing you want and they’ll totter off to purchase it for you like an obedient, and particularly intelligent, border collie. You pay the price of the item you’re requesting, obviously enough, plus a small delivery fee based on a percentage of the cost of the item being purchased.
I request a new red jumper from Topman, to go with all of the other, identical jumpers from Topman that comprise my wardrobe. Jinn can also collect food from fast food spots like McDonald’s and Burger King, but my stomach is crying out for something more substantial.
Deliveroo – 5:30pm
There’s an astoundingly good sandwich bar just a short walk from my house, where a man called Max sells sandwiches the size and weight of bricks.
You could build a house with these sandwiches. And then, when it was time to move, you could eat your house. You could hurl one of these sandwiches through the window of a small local business as part of a mob-style protection racket. You could fill a coffin with these sandwiches to represent a young man lost at sea. They also do these potato things I like.
Sitting around all day has left me with a ravenous appetite, and so I’m craving one of these very large sandwiches. But is it possible to use my phone to make food appear in or at least near to my mouth? Of course it is – making food appear is something phones have been capable of for decades – but the last 12 months have seen a revolution in the variety and quality of food you can summon to your table.
Max’s Sandwich Shop doesn’t deliver, but it’s one of many restaurants served by Deliveroo, the heroic courier service that sends a cyclist to collect a hot meal and bring it to your doorstep. It turns a bunch of restaurants into local takeaways – as long as you’re willing to pay their usual sit-down prices – and you can add a driver tip directly to your order.
In just under half an hour, all of my darkest sandwich fantasies have been fulfilled. And crucially, I have exerted zero energy to make it happen. Now so full of bread that I’m beginning to sweat, it’s time to professionally reassemble my face before a big night out.
Blow LTD - 6:00pm
“Boys always have such beautiful eyelashes.” Not my words, but the words of Blow LTD stylist (and eyelash expert) Francesca, who has just arrived to smear expensive balms and salves into my pasty garbage face until I am so indescribably pretty that Greta Garbo herself crawls from the cold earth to howl my name in furious envy at an uncaring moon.
After making a booking on the Blow LTD iPhone app, the London salon will promptly dispatch an expert beauty therapist to your home or office for an emergency hair and makeup session. A stylist turns up at your door, tells you you have incredible eyelashes, and then immediately sets about improving you. It’s convenient for wrecked people with no time to waste.
Perhaps you’ve fallen asleep in the road before an important meeting and a man from the council has painted a yellow line across your face. Or maybe you got your hair tangled up in a ceiling fan before a hen party. Whatever the situation, Blow LTD promise to have you looking your best in no time at all.
I’m proud to say I am their first male customer – which surprised me considering what a terrible mess most men are – and so Francesca offered me her “step up from male grooming” treatment, subtly smoothing out my features with an array of creams and powders.
Beards are the universally accepted method of covering up a bad face, and I’d taken the drastic action of shaving mine off in preparation for all of the expensive chin-lotions she might need to apply. Hairless and professionally smoothed, I now look like a beautiful Jeffrey Tambor baby. And so it’s time to leave the house and, by extension, the sofa.
(I know, right? It sounds like I'm cheating by getting off the sofa, but if you go back and check you'll see that I never actually outlined any rules about anything, and that I can just do what I like all of the time because who even cares. Grow up.)
Jukely – 9:00pm
A subscription service rather than an app, Jukely still deserves credit for taking 90 per cent of the effort out of planning a night out. Pay a flat fee of £25 a month and you can put yourself on the guest list of dozens of shows, gigs and DJ sets happening across London.
The focus is primarily on electronic and hip-hop DJ sets, and the bulk of the shows you’ll have access to are by emerging artists, but the occasional big name performer will crop up. Choose something you like the sound of and you’re texted an entry code. Show it to the box office person alongside some ID and they let you in with all the chumps who paid for tickets. Go to enough gigs and your membership fee pays for itself.
It feels like cheating. Legitimately being able to say “oh, I’m actually on the guest list” at a Todd Terje set was a minor thrill, tempered only by Todd’s reluctance to let me hang with him backstage. And although I didn’t hear anybody specifically mention it, I’m almost certain a great many people were commenting on how good I looked.
Truly, I have lived an app-filled day of unparalleled laziness. Boarding an Uber, I made my way home.
Bevy – 2:30am
No night is truly complete without a small and ill-advised after-party back on the sofa where it all began, and Bevy is an app that can solve the big three quandaries of wee hours socialising: where can I get more booze, fags and condoms in a very short space of time?
It solves this by delivering booze, fags and condoms to your doorstep within half an hour, until five in the morning. It’s difficult to imagine how we ever coped before. Thank you modern science, for delivering us into this incredible future.