Friday, 20 June 2008

Feedback Friday :: Old Kent Road Blues

bulk :: 16st 1
cigarettes :: 0
joints :: 2
alcohol :: some
runs :: 3 (which is quite good. I'm back in the saddle but not quite fucking the horse as I'd hoped. Next week maybe.)
swims :: 0
chocolate biscuits :: 60 (damn supermarkets and their 2 for 1 offers. Damn my lack of self-control.)
unsavoury thoughts concerning Audrey Tautou :: 0 (OK, OK, 40)

This morning - for reasons not really worth going into - I found myself on the Old Kent Road. Whenever I'm on the Old Kent Road, I understand afresh why it's the cheapest property on the Monopoly board. It's like the part of London that evolution forgot. As such, it seems like the perfect location for an existential crisis.

I was over the road from the Tesco. A pub called The Lord Nelson had what appeared to be two fresh bullet holes in one of its windows, each giving way to separate spider webs of shattered glass. Across the street a group of desperate-looking people were waiting for a bus. One of them - a man in his 40s with lank grey hair and an old suit - suddenly stepped out into the road and threw what appeared to be a stone at a passing bus. It came out of nowhere this act of aggression, and it was all the more surprising for this guy's seeming semi-respectability. Witnesses shook their heads vaguely and looked away. He stepped back onto the pavement, like butter wouldn't melt.

An old man on a bench, looking not quite all there, struggled to light a cigarette he had just constructed. He was in his 50s, grey skin, short spiky silver hair and beard, a can of what looked like Kestrel in a brown paper bag between his knees. I hung about by a nearby bus stop watching him. When he finally managed to get his cigarette going, he folded his arms and stared straight ahead of him, fag hanging from his gob, smoke dancing into his face, and I thought that thing that I think a lot, that thing that everybody who thinks about other people thinks a lot. I thought, 'I wonder what's going on in his head'. Probably nothing of interest of course, or else he probably wouldn't be sitting on a bench on the Old Kent Road drinking warm Kestrel at 10am.

But you never know.

I looked away and saw someone staring at me. A well-dressed young Indian woman. She had exactly the same expression on her face that imagine I had. A mixture of polite enquiry, patronising pity and outright disgust. She looked away. I looked away. I looked back at the old man. He was looking at me. He looked away. I looked away.

What the fuck am I doing here? I thought. And I went home.

So. That was the highlight of my Friday. The Old Kent Road. Like the freak carriage in the opening dream sequence of Stardust Memories. Sometimes South East London really brings me down. I'm sure it's less grim up north.

Keith is away for the weekend.

I don't know if it's coming across at all, but I'm feeling dreadfully sorry for myself. Thank God for chocolate biscuits.

Have a good weekend.

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Anonymous said...

i guess you've not got further than shoreditch/hackney if that's what you think. south east london is gorgeous.

have a run belle. will cheer you up, promise.

Inwardly Confused said...

That part of living in London I don't miss at all, I can now wrap myself up in a fug of suburban bliss not having to look at befuddled aged folks struggling to understand what happen to the last 20 years.
Have a run it most likely will cheer you up although I am more of a biscuit fan myself.

Luka said...

There, there.

I find maltesers help.

Wisewebwoman said...

I totally get it, BDJ, and 'get' you too.
Chockie bickies dilute a lot of angst.
Where's Sally?

Shimacat said...

Ah, it's trite, but you need the down times to make the good times stand out. This is one such time. Revel in it, remember it, and when you're feeling sunny and lighter, you'll remember that Old Kent Road moment and be glad you're not feeling like that now. Honest. I had an Old Kent Road Easter (not literally, but same emontional tone), an d actually like to look back on that now, because things these days are so different.

You'll see.

Go find another kitty.

Anonymous said...

oczwhhf Now, what sort of word verification is that? Good thing I have just rolled a spliff, eh? Rude not to, I'd wager.


Ann Anon

Catherine said...

Were they McVities Plain Chocolate HobNobs, by any chance? Just please say yes, humor me if you don't mind. When I was in Ireland, I got hooked on those and miss them a lot. I tried to find them online, to no avail whatsoever. I did find regular old McVities Plain Chocolate Biscuits (non-HobNob variety), and they were fantastic, loved them to pieces. Literally (I tend to break stuff kind of easily). I will get some again for my birthday. But they're not exactly the same. I really need to get to Europe sometime again.

Hendo said...

Kestrel Lager. Do they still make it?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure it's less grim up north.

It isn't.


La Bête said...

Anon, you called me ‘belle’. How sweet.

Confused, you paint an eloquent picture of said befuddleds. Life is sad.

Luka. Maltesers eh? I’ve just had a very naughty thought. Can you guess what it is?

WWW, you might have missed a bit. Sally is gone. And you know what? I miss her. Fuck.

Shima, you’re right of course. Revel, you say? Mmmmm, Revels. I’ve just had a very naughty thought. Can you guess what it is? Damn, I think I’m on heat.

Ann Anon, you worry me. I think you might smoke too much. Shame on you. (Incidentally, when I have none, I become very judgemental. It’s really bad for you, you know. And you’re just using it to escape reality. See? What a hypocrite.)

Catherine, no, they were milk chocolate. I’m sure you can order some online, you know. Have you tried? Ocado deliver. But maybe not that far. You never know though. Try ‘em!

Hendo. It might not have been Kestrel. But it was definitely black and gold. Oh, and yes, they do! Ugh.

Thanks, Sarah! (I bet it is.)

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what was going on with all the police on Old Kent Road 1st & 2nd? Blocked for nearly 48 hours. It is grim but not as grim as the Aylesbury Estate that runs behind it. The Lord Nelson huh? Was it the nearby roadworks that drew you there?