Monday, October 23, 2006

The Streets Where I Lived

Where I used to live in London gets a bad press, it looked a bit like this, well a lot like this actually. I liked it, it was where I felt at home, it was where my grandparents lived and where we came from as East End Jews. It was noisy, it was busy, & it was multicoloured. Sometimes the cacophony of other people's lives would get too much, and the seaside would beckon; the seaside which was so easily within reach. When I moved to Leicestershire, people would tell me I must be so much happier in the countryside, because it was nicer. Nicer??? When London has so many squares, and this one was just around the corner, without a locked gate on it. When I could walk through Manchester Square via the Wallace Collection in my lunch hour, or just go directly to Selfridges giggling with my mate K on the way. I wasn't happier. I am sure London is a lonely place if you don't know anyone, but I can't imagine feeling any more lonely and isolated than I did in a small Leicestershire market town. People were more conventional, didn't understand me, and I didn't want to be like them. Even though Leicester has the largest ethnic population in the country, the villages are white, I am too but I found that so odd. Now when I walk down Kingsland High Road, surely one of the dodgiest streets in the world, I am happy. When all around are tensing in the madness, I relax.
I am wistful, rather than unhappy here now, but I know people here really don't understand why I love London. Well, one of them does; I was having my hair cut by a lovely guy the other day who had trained in London. He was thinking of going back, and I was hyperventilating with enthusiasm! I tried to reassure him that London had lived through the IRA's mainland campaign for decades, vile though it was, & I know London will have shrugged of 7/7 in a way 9/11 will never be. Not forgotten, just b*****ed if those terrorists are going to win, whoever they are. Sometimes I just really miss standing at the bus stop on the days I didn't cycle, waiting for the most elusive 277 bus from Mile End and watching the work on the Green Bridge. It is true though, that I used to stand there imagining I was in France, the road reminded me of one I had once got lost on in Paris. On that occasion I was completely bewildered about where I was, & surrounded by old drunk Parisian men, so I expect I imagined myself elsewhere even when I was there.

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