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More than half way round the 253, the conductor would look at you funny [Dec. 15th, 2014|08:58 pm]
A very long time ago, when I was first making my way about town, and comparing my experiences with others who did, Hackney would often arise, as a problem. Anywhere without a tube station has this characteristic, but Hackney somehow more so. I'm not being a snob about it, how could I? At the time I lived South of the River.

It wasn't that you couldn't get there - you could; I often did. But it was like enlightenment: there were so many ways to it, and no agreement to be had on which was the best. Anyone who said they knew the ideal route was by definition not to be trusted, because s/he had clearly been subject to a particular strand of belief. Personal experience was no guide: what worked yesterday might not work tomorrow.

Naif that I was, I tried all the ways. The first was my favourite, tube to Bethnal Green, then the 253 up: most of the time a dream, the remainder a nightmare. Some swore by Highbury and then the 30. There were others who went by train all the way, through Liverpool Street, as if they were going to Norfolk. And there were all sorts of ways of using the North London Line, which then consisted of two ancient carriages and existed more in the imagination than manifestation.

But as I remember it, the people who actually lived in Hackney, and made their journeys in reverse order, would have nothing to do with rails at all. They took the bus all the way and they wouldn't hear of alternatives. It was as if time operated differently for them, as is supposed around black holes - Dalston Kingsland as an event horizon, the dark matter of Cambridge Heath.

And even Hackney residents didn't agree. They'd recommend the 22, the 30, the 38, the 55. When I lived in Brixton they said the 35 had been laid on just for me. For a practical joke they'd send you on the 6, and you'd find yourself at Hackney Wick, which is not enough Hackney at all. It didn't help that I could never quite recognise Mare Street: it was a friend I'd miss in the street despite their haircut and clothing remaining unchanged from my last meeting.

I could identify only one certainty in my journeys to Hackney, and it has relevance to yhe theme of enlightenment, and also to the reasons why I went there. It seemed as if to find Hackney you had to lose yourself. Sober, it was an effort, physically and mentally, travel as travail. It was easier under the influence, whatever route you took. It was easiest when influence was such that you couldn't remember what route you took at all.
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AFFECTION [Dec. 12th, 2014|09:36 pm]
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Joseph Hermon Cawthra
Bishop's Park, Fulham
Before decapitation
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"Who are yer? WHERE are yer?" [Nov. 16th, 2014|03:05 pm]
The first I saw, I assumed was an adaptation to address a disability. It had that appearance. A short pole, with a small camera at one end. Then I saw another, and it occurred to me that it might have the utility of a periscope, to enable a tourist of modest height to take photographs over things and people.

Then I saw one in use, then another. The pole put the device - it was as likely to be mobile phone with a camera function - at distance greater than arm's length from the operator. It was take a photograph of the self, in a scenic context. In many successive contexts, hence the appearance of these poles, for that dedicated purpose.


At the Victoria and Albert museum, the 'Disobedient Objects' exhibition. Heartening, at first, to see so many young people there. They are looking at the objects. They are photographing the objects... No, they are photographing each other in front of the objects.

Approximately twenty-seven items related to the exhibition are available in the V&A gift shop.


My place of temporary exile is having a spasm of representative democracy in addition to that provided for in the usual timetable. A right-wing party has located itself to the right of the two other right-wing parties, who between them are poised to take the great majority of the local vote. That furthest-right party is having a very small march, which will later be truncated part of the way along the town's high street. But for now, they have assembled across the width of the inbound lane of the station approach road, occupying a space the depth of one car's length. They are opposed and outnumbered, to a ratio of approximately ten to one, by several hundred counter-demonstrators lining the high street's pavements.

A couple of people are in close attendance to the right-wing group; they are taking photographs of them, collectively and one by one. Ostentatiously, with bulky SLR cameras. They do not appear to be working on behalf of the right-wingers, nor on the part of the local constabulary. The resulting images may later be disseminated and archived, but the act of photo-taking itself appears to be the more immediate objective, and an end in itself. Each shutter snap is a tut of disapproval; it has rhetorical value.
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Chrisp Street, E14 [Sep. 23rd, 2014|08:24 pm]
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Spirited [Sep. 3rd, 2014|08:49 pm]
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Rochester Cathedral
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When you've got some pictures up, your books sorted and that, see how it goes, eh? [Aug. 17th, 2014|11:46 pm]
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Avenida 9 de Julio [Aug. 15th, 2014|11:31 am]
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Avenida 9 de Julio
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Haven't had internet in months; I'm posting this with two tin cans and a taut length of string [Jul. 21st, 2014|12:13 am]
I'll miss crowds in the avenues: Córdoba, Corrientes, Belgrano. And talkative traffic.

Flutter and clap of the doves in the courtyard each morning. Dogs in the streets.

Wheeze of buses; their colours, each route distinctively dressed: the 68 promising ice and the sedate brown of the 39.

Rasp of the scrap collector's loudspeakers; howl of the policia sirens.

Motor pollution and the charcoal tang of dinner in the offing.
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All that and the early starts, does your head in [Jun. 21st, 2014|11:49 pm]
On the train in. Four men, talking of the building trade, then social matters. Getting stuck into the beers at nine in the morning; they're going up town, one of them's having a birthday.

"Jack, he says let's get off at Gravesend, Grave-o's banging! What are you on about, look at it. We went in this pub up Northfleet way, there was more animals than people."

As I'm going into the cinema I see an FBU picket outside the Shaftesbury Avenue fire station. They've got a stereo booming away, armchairs making a living room out on the tarmac in front of the accordion doors.

Later, my friend would show me a piece in a magazine about the restaurant that's opened in the old Chiltern Street fire station. It's pretty foul. That was my fire station: if my kitchen caught fire that's where the engines would be coming from.

The film was Greek, and full of family dysfunction, like the last two Greek films I saw. This is by the by, but I like the Greek for 'no': the aspiration of the second syllable.

Afterwards, passing the union encampment, a man, who I presume is himself Ghanaian waves a Ghanaian flag on the opposite pavement. The FBU guys have found the Ghanaian national anthem for him and are playing it full volume to the flag-bearer's delight. At the end they cheer: Ghana! Ghana! Ghana!

On the train back. Several young women are getting stuck into a pass-around, I can't tell what, it's a 2-litre botellon special. One says to another: "You're quiet, what's on your mind?" Her companion replies: "I'm getting completely cunted tonight, and if he don't like it then fuck him. Won't be any fucking breakfast tomorrow..."
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...with a number of commercial, employment and community hubs... [Jun. 12th, 2014|09:43 pm]
I was going into town for lunch. He was sitting in the row of seats in front of me, by the aisle. Every now and then he'd look up and down the carriage and through the glass panel in the connecting door. Shifty, but not what you'd call hazardous.

He twisted around, and said, what are they doing there, then? We were passing the fresh concrete podium for the platforms to sit on. I explained about the new station. Oh yeah, he said, they're regenerationing all this, aren't they?

We got talking; I reckon he knew about the station, that was just his gambit. He asked me if I thought it was rough round there, the towns we were now leaving behind. He told me about when the Dutch came up the river and took the King's ship because the English cannonballs didn't fit the cannons. Nothing changes.

He told me, he didn't have a ticket; he was watching out for the guard. He was going to hide in the toilet. He was going all the way into town. I said the guard didn't come around on these trains, but there might be an RPI team once we got into town. I said the barriers would be switched on at the terminals, so if he wasn't up for tailgating he'd be best off trying one of the suburban stations. He clearly didn't do this often enough.

He told me about fishing in the river, down where it turns from salt to fresh, what you could catch.

How old do you think I am? he asked. I said he looked mid-thirties, he said forty-one. He seemed a bit surprised. I said, there you go, you're getting away with it. He said, I'm fucked, I've got no job, I've got no girlfriend. They've started me on a two-year scheme and if I miss it once, I lose my benefit.

Around about zone 4 he started nodding off, quite suddenly, narcoleptically. I wondered about diabetes, medication, something else. I think I woke him up when I got off for the DLR, saying goodbye, to say mind how you go. As the train passed me, from the platform I saw he had slumped back over in his seat.

I wonder how he got on with the gateline once he got to town.
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Bus replacement service [Jun. 7th, 2014|09:04 pm]
She said: 'the greatest advances in revolutionary theory have been written in exile'. Yes, I thought, because the exiles were that bored.

He said: 'imagine it's a foreign country'. That's not hard; I left London and now I live in England.

They said: 'we'll visit you'. As if I were going to prison, or a long stay in hospital, or voluntary confinement.

Today I went to Morrisons, I went to Argos, I went to Asda.

Now I'm going to sleep.
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They all say I can come back and visit, but it's not the same. I'll miss you, even when I'm with you [May. 8th, 2014|09:02 pm]
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Notes on a relocation [May. 8th, 2014|08:59 pm]
There's a knackered castle. There's a church passing itself off as a cathedral. There's a station that's filthy because they're going to build a new one.

There's a river, a bridge, a defunct submarine.

There's too much sky.
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Residential interior, W1 [Apr. 29th, 2014|08:12 pm]
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Notes on a dislocation [Apr. 29th, 2014|07:48 pm]
"If you'd joined the library, way back, you wouldn't be having this problem now."

An accurate comment, if not terribly helpful at this point. In front of me, a couple of hundred books to be got rid of to the charity shop, behind me a thousand or so to travel onward with me in boxes and crates.

I found books I hadn't seen in a decade. I found books lost so long I had already bought duplicates. Which one do I keep: 'The Vatican Cellars', or 'Lafcadio's Adventures'? Same book, different title. The book I thought I'd never get back when the borrower died: sometime later, after I'd closed it all off buying a replacement, it arrived by post, and I still can't guess how the family of the deceased knew it was mine. Perhaps that wasn't so difficult: another duplicate was the book someone got me because (I shan't name it) "it's so you": it was so me, I already had it.

No Kunderas though. I've said this before, they get borrowed and never come back. There are some who spend half their wages buying replacement Milan Ks, and others who have the man's full stretch on their shelves and have never paid for one. Unfair, I call it.
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Croydon [Mar. 24th, 2014|09:12 pm]
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Euston Road, where else [Feb. 24th, 2014|11:50 pm]
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Euston Road
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My bus broke down. I mean, it was inconsolable. [Feb. 24th, 2014|11:38 pm]
I gave him twenty for a taxi. Didn't know him so well, but he said he'd pulled; I didn't see her, but it was a matter of urgency for him. Later I asked the barmaid if he was regular, she told me his name; I just as soon forgot it.

Didn't expect to see him or the twenty again. Same time next week, same place, he wasn't to be seen until close on last orders. He appeared beside me at the bar, gave me back my score, and insisted on getting my round for me. Insisted.

And he said: "That bird, last week... yeh."

"Nice one."

"Did you see her."

"Not really."

"Her body, I'm not being... from her hips to her ribs... she went on forever. Look."

He's fumbling with his phone. Again he says: "Look".
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East Road, N1. Yesterday, as it happens. [Feb. 10th, 2014|12:21 am]
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East Road, N1
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All this in one evening, it's going a bit fast for me [Feb. 10th, 2014|12:12 am]
I put my foot in it - I wasn't to know - we were talking about the choreography of young couples on the tube, visitors, on the escalators. For a short while their respective heights are altered by one being a step above the other. The way they lark about with it, for the duration of the ride up or down. She teared up, apologised. They'd been broken up for a while but this was some kind of anniversary... The other two filled me in later. Some kind of escalator memory I suppose; you don't know, do you?

Two women, braced between them a younger one needing support. So that made three, making slow progress down Clerkenwell Road.
One on the outside said to the one on the inside: you wait 'til you're forty, my girl! Then it starts, then it starts.

In the pub there were screens, videos. Massive Attack, 'Unfinished Sympathy' at one point. He said: do you remember this? I was in Wigan when this come out, with Marie. Fuck. Takes me back, you know?
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