Sunday, July 29, 2007

Undercover in Brixton

I like to think of myself as North London girl. Why, I not sure. After all I only moved back from Cairo 6 months ago and before that I was a anywhere-there-is-a-spare-room-in-greater-London girl. At some point my sister will come back from her holidays and throw me out. I say 'at some point' whilst knowing very well the exact date and time, and closing my ears to it, even though it is inside my very own head. Then I must choose where to live. For a Libran and an Elly, choice is very over-rated. Frankly I don't like it too much. In the past I just got to hear of a place that happened to be somewhere and I said yes before seeing it, and that was that - no agonising over whether it has good transport links or a good scene or is a murder hot-spot. Soon I will have to choose and maybe, just maybe I'll head south of the river... that is where I ended up last night - standing outside Brixton tube in my raincoat, waiting in a kind of hangover stupor to be picked up by my friend, and staring at everyone else waiting for whatever.

I'm a big starer - I just have to stare at people's faces and hands and clothes and the way they open their mouth, imagining everything about their absurd lives - absurd because it is not my life so is incomprehensible in its rhythm and purpose. A young girl ran across the road exaggeratedly grimacing in the rain, and a dark, handsome guy stood behind me and I couldn't look at him. Patrolling the entrance was a kind of motley crew of broken-nosed, toothless used day-travel-card touts. I gawped and scrutinised their interactions with each other and passing human traffic. I imagined how they might think me an undercover police-officer and that excited me so I gawped more intensely and smiled knowingly to myself, planning the write-up I would do back at the station. I wondered if they loved and looked after each other or if they were too paranoid and fucked-over to have friendships as I understand them. One white guy looked like he had arrived full of some hope from Latin America 20 years ago and been forgotten and beaten up here and just stayed. The two black men were a bit less unsightly but their stories looked bad.

Brixton rocks - it moves -it pulsates with life and longing and I love the bling - there is no bling in Golder's Green (GG). I think GG would think that is some achievement but it is a bit dreary - I like slutty-looking girls and church-going women and smelly students all kind of mixed up together. GG station entrance always has some rattled looking tourists and innocent Eastern European couples. And of course Brixton is black. Absolutely black. It might seem glib, but when you go from white North London to black South London, you begin to see how skewered your perspective is. It just stops making sense- any of the rationales; rather your own messiness makes sense again. The underground train that pulls out of Brixton tube station is black and when it arrives in GG it is white.

This is London. No, London is this and that and something else and keep guessing.

No comments: