[from London Living blog]
Sunday, August 19, 2007
It’s a been a long time since I posted survival rules for London. Hell, it’s been a long time since I posted anything–though the last one about tossing Don Mitchell out of the 47th floor of the San Francisco Hilton looked pretty funny. I hate fascists. Any how, on to the survival rules: an updated list.
1. Don’t ever leave London!!
I can’t stress this one enough. Except for the odd foray to the seaside, or other closely selected locales, do not, under any circumstances leave the M25–preferably it’s best just to stay within Zone 2. Everything you need is there. Cinemas, pubs, bars, restaurants, probably the best wine shop in the world. Why leave? On each occasion I’ve left London, lured by a the thought of a quiet weekend in the countryside, I’ve only encountered weird village folk and returned the next day with a headache and fatigue that still rears its head a week later. Again, don’t ever fucking leave London. It’s not worth it.
2. Mind your shoes. I’ve mentioned this one before I think, but it was really in a more literal reference to you shoes. This time it’s metaphorical and can be translated as watch your ass; this is a big (BIG) city.
Last Tuesday evening, after having settled down to some nice braised pork chops and a James Bond movie, we were distracted by a noise outside. Shouting, gibberish, more shouting. Typical for the Hackney slum I now call home. Believe me, there is an edgy romance to taking part in the cutting wave of gentrification. My fourth floor flat, locked away behind numerous double bolted garages, entryways, video phone lock mechanisms, over looks the former Kings Crescent Estate. My windows over look 4 other stories of blocked in windows of derilect flats, that hide one of the larger populated council estates in Greater London. It’s notorious for drugs and prostitution. I dodge used condoms on the way home (a literal take on minding your shoes), that despite the disturbing social relations that underlie condoms on the ground near Brownswood road, is a testament to the safer sex campaigns of the 90’s. Now, if only the prostitutes and pimps would not use the alley way… But I digress. One of the off shoots of living at the cutting edge of trendiness is that the great, modernist project of social housing, that is housing the poor in massive tenement blocks, is that the problem that would normally be isolated to the estates often spill out, meaning that the rules of geographic autocorrelation dictate that their problems soon become my problems.
Back to Tuesday. After the shouting and gibberish had ended, we were treated to a police investigation. I mean there were cops, cop tape, bobbies, tit heads, the whole force seemed to have descended onto the niegborhood streets. Missing were the hoards of normal street dwellers, deciding that it was probably best not to have to talk to the coppers. More and more arrived, and the streets got quieter and quieter. I didn’t have anything to wing at them since the last eggs were consumed at lunch, but I did have the opportunity to watch the proceedings. I even, almost felt bad once the sky started to fuck down an uncanny amount water–almost. But I still hate cops. I’ve read enough social theory to know that the difference between coppers and the quarry is generally about 70 years of discourse. Pigs. Anyway. The amusing part of the night was the second after the filth packed up the tape, the cars, and the mobile police lab, disguise and fingerprint kit. The night air was filled with whistling, and within a few more minutes, the streets were filled with the usuals as if nothing had happened. It was like the kids in the favellas had started flying kites again.
Fortunately, in London, most the violence is isolated to social networks. Drug dealers usually only kill other drug dealers or their associates. There is little actual random violence except at the hands of the marauding gangs of youths that the daily mail would have me believe roam the streets outside of Mayfair. Even so, it’s best to walk fast and stare at the ground 10meters in front of you. There is really no reason to know what your nieghbors are up to.
Stay tuned. I know i promise more soon and leave it, but I am writing heavily right now so you’ll probably find me posting again, late tonight as the the empty house, and probably more accurately empty bottle take hold and force me to spout words that won’t quite fit into the 100,000 word thesis i’m tackling at the moment.