Still London

The coffee shops play the saddest music of moaning but hopeful men. Like this will be your last coffee. You will leave an obscure note in whipped cream on the round little table. And with a knapsack and no money you will set of on that Forest Gump adventure to rekindle love.

The man before me in the line has the same name as my twin brother who I have not seen or really heard from for two years. I think two years. I here scraps of news from my mother. He works yards from this coffee shop along side the station. And so I squint hard in the carab bean light and wonder if it could be him.

Suddenly the music says none of us are Forest Gump, strangers won’t talk here but convey their presence through sniffs over flat whites and intrepid business calls.

I have been trying to find a dog knowing it is futile to find a rescue animal that will happily walk alongside a white cane. Most days I am in bed, well a condensation covered futon sunk in the middle, until midday. This morning a child shouted ‘no’ by the front door by my futon and then a group of them started chanted high pitched ‘woo-oo-ooo’s’ the whole way up the road. I sleep and am shocked awake like doing cartwheels down a hill.

Someone knocked on the front door and I hid in the back smear with yesterdays make up and a saggy pyjama top declaring ‘I HATE MORNINGS’. Not the best look for Brackenbury neighbours with a problem for me. They never give up around here, they linger and call through letter boxes. She has left a note a few days earlier that was almost inept to my eyesight. I had to photograph it and stretch it to get the thread of it. Surely she knows it’s a building for visually impaired tenants? I fear the problem in the house that’s up for sale for over a million if you can put up with me swearing and loudly peeing the other side of the wall and all the traffic and millionaire drunk students.

The dog I had my hopes on, missed my bus stop day dreaming about has been reserved by someone else. It was a sad but young looking English Bulldog. And I am told again that abused and abandoned dogs may not get along with my cane.

The flat with its brick walls, concrete floor and zero insulation is only 15 degrees at most with four radiators on. No idea what the costs are. I only turn the heating on before bed not having a gas bill before. Letters have gone out to the charity that own it but considering they have left tenants in the past to kill themselves and struggle alone with dementia and addiction I doubt I’m going anywhere soon.

Meanwhile the ‘everyone will be moved in 6 weeks’ estate for the blind still has most of it’s neighbours from hell I tried to get away from thinking Hammersmith would be the fresh start. They have pets and holidays, sky tv (a TV!). bathtubs with a set heating bill every month. They have a view of Richmond Park they can’t see and a garden and support workers. They never have to work again while I still fail to sell anything and my tax credits will stop soon.

The music has changed to some young pretence at country and western, a bit ‘Nashville’ and my drink in it’s plastic cup without a name on the side is half gone, or half full.

 

 

 

 

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Is North End Road the Heart of Hammersmith?

So I live in the end of Hammersmith as the Witch of Brackenbury among the Pi-latte couture of young mums married to property investors. Yet this oasis of whiter than with terraces and bijou basement conversion seems to fray on the boundaries, or maybe just the worst people are collectively swept to my corner, far too shouty and tracksuit clad to be ‘villager’. Sweep them to ‘where the crazy lady lives.’

I woke to a man being sick outside me front door the other side of my futon. If it wasn’t sick then he has walked away without his lungs. Not the most ‘affluent neighbourhood’ start to your day. I am still unsure if it was just another mimicking insult considering the teenagers out the back did impressions of me sneezing in silly voices for weeks.

If it wasn’t for the tides of chav domestics and disembodied ridicules life would be pretty good there really. I had to go and find the drop in service for Shelter to see if I can take action against my career and health damaging landlords. North End Road is one really REALLY long road to walk up when you are lost. I started at the wrong end.

It turned out I spent most of the day there and I have to say it is probably the best bit of Hammersmith because away from all the Kate Middleton look-a-likes purring ‘Felix you forgot your iPad’ in Bridget Jones accents of my end, it is so full of life.

People talk to you in North End Road. Whether that’s the men on the street stalls or just random strangers. Wait for a bus, declare you are lost and you can find yourself chatting for ages. It’s busy with shoppers with heaps of veg stalls and fish, random haberdashery, pawn shop jewellery and charity shops.

I eventually found the building number and it was for flats. After a 15 min wait on the phone I hung up and realised I was stood outside a Shelter charity shop so went in and asked. The drop in is in a back office in the shop and I had a 2 hour wait until I could be seen so I went to Fulham down the road and got a coffee and walked back. Still stupidly early I shop volunteer let me sit in a vintage armchair for sale amongst the coats and shoes and she gave me some very good advice and told me her story while pausing to serve quite a few customers. And I thought, boy I’ve missed talking to everyone and anyone and hearing their stories when sat in my flat I only hear arguing or children going to school at dawn. (or waking up to ‘no bra!’ being squeeled outside?!)

An Irish man at the bus stop asked about my white cane and the woman beside him waiting for the bus joined our chatter and got on the bus with me. I like this road. It is like a little world of it’s own. Tree lined avenues and shiny Mazdas outside topiary trees are all nice to walk around on the West borders but they don’t speak do they?

It’s the most beautiful time of year in London when the trees turn gold and shed and men go to work in long black coats with the collars turned up. Tourists dress as though we are in Siberia and street corners smell of caramelised nuts in paper ones. The gloom and dark evening crave a need for warmth, pumpkin lattes and exploring shadowy corners no summer has left.

It has been long since I have written but not much has changed. I still eat Tesco sandwiches on concert benches by the Thames and decamp to Starbucks to work on my online shop that has not sold a single thing since April. That was a second hand pair of leggings. The ‘charity’ landlord are still hinting for somewhere for me to live where I can pee without the weird neighbours banging or stamping up the stairs behind my bum. But life in Brackenbury is mellowing more. My graduation is in a few months. I am not going as it feels like a second wedding without a husband. I haven’t declined in the hope they are left calling out my name, holding up events as one last mistake I made as the thickest student they ever have

 

What can an MA in English Literature get me as a 33 year old who has never had full time employment and has a CV showing hula hooping and two years of illness selling junk on eBay?

Anyone want to employ me?

I just want to live on a houseboat. I want nothing more to live on a houseboat….and have somewhere to do aerial hoop.

Any takers on magically transforming my life please get in touch because living in a free West End vintage flat is safe and the houses look pretty but, boy, is life snobby and dull here. I like unicorns. The neighbourhood like property investment and Mazdas. You get my drift?

 

I

Passing Uni and trip to Kew

So I got myself a Masters in English Literature…by 1%! The module where I had to write 2 essays I concocted in a day without even reading before submitting got me a higher maker. 
I guess all those intelligent students who did dissertations on Sherlock Holmes and Pride and Predjudice will go on to have careers. I morphed into the exhausted aftermath of Vivienne Eliot while trying to write that, yes she was quite ill, but her writing is about her experiences of crap doctors and bodged cures and of course, sitting with flu in the Bodleian Library squinting, I was doomed to get a low great. 

So I don’t feel too ‘yay’ about a masters too poor to get a PHD, a joke to intelligensia. 
Vivien/ne Eliot goes back to being a much disliked ‘mad’ and of little interest. I go back to being unemployable, braindead from my druggy neighbour and of little interest. 
I started writing about my 10 year string if mentally ill neighbours heard but not seen. I was going to call it ‘The Ceiling Women’…
Unable to entirely shake of literature I bought Virginia Woolf’s ‘Kew Garden Book and ‘Bee Journal’ by Sean Borodale at Kew Gardens today. My life dream is to keep bees and grow olives in Italy. 

Below are some photos of the gardens including the new bee hive installation. My favourite place is Kew Palace it has such a surreal cartoonish look to it and is open during summer along with the Kitchens. 

Gift shop plant called Polly


Spot the bee

Damsel fly

Allum’s my favourite flowers 

Music manuscript in palace

The Hive. It buzzes and vibrates and lights up the more the bees work hard. But I never saw any real hive. You can climb to a glass platform. 

The end (of uni) is nigh

The End (of uni) is NighI don’t do things by halves. I tend to do many things all at once at the last minute with no signs of making any of the good enough. This is why my deferred uni deadline is on Moday and I’ve still not finished reading for a 5000 word essay on Hollinghurst and Waters, a dissertation tk revise- it was meant to be 1200 and I thought it was 1600 so wrote half a book on Vivien/ne/Vivie/Feirron/DooDah Eliot which could end as a set of encyclopedias for all I have to say about her. 

Then there is a 2000 word essay on…on… Interdisciplinarity and Talbot?
I’m screwed. 

Aside from my tutor having to point out to me today that Plato was not God of the underworld, the biggest problem aside from lack of intellect is the same old problem. The same ‘you’ve won a prize!’ That turns out to be a scam problem. 

Noisy neighbours who are entirely nocturnal from the Thomas Pocklington Trust. 
Going to bed at 11 but not sleeping until 5am regularily is not productive, not even livable. Of course the Trust dent it, ignore or encourage or like one manager say I make it up. 

After a brainswelling phonecall on the ineptitude of the noise team at the council (who tell me all my previous calls never happened) I scream my lungs out in a shrill gargling cry at 8a.m. 

Now all of posh poshdom Brackdnbury village must find councelling for their miniature dogs and children who never grow older than 5. Maybe they will burn me on a stake in Chiswick while Morris dancers circle their Bentlys. Yep- I’m now the noisy neighbour, great that. 
I wish I good phone Vivien Eliot, tell her the f#%^#r is driving me mad again up all night. I need a friend like her with large cloche hats and the ability to find humour against the shitty people they leave you too exhausted to be who you strived to be. 
I have only until Moday. 

As always with typos- typed on mobile unable to read screen. 

Jogger

I actually went JOGGING in Ravenscourt park. Yeah, joggers are my most hated things in London. It was sporadic with tits escaping. My prob is still my breathing. I can only jog the short bits I can see no holes in the path. I wish the real joggers knew I can’t see the ground, have 2 ankle injuries and chronic fatigue after waking paralysed most mornings. They just see pant flab. 

Opinion- it feels like mundane hardship which I have always thought being panted and dripped on by others. Ever seen a happy jogger. It’s someone Orwellian is forcing them to. 
It’s not dancing. 

The Return of Sibylla: Neurotic Rich Show Off Ladies

‘Oh darllinngggg darling how are you? How, are, you?’ The shaved head ultra career-socialite, middle aged woman hollered in the middle of a chain coffee shop right in front of Sibylla’s table. Before the man who recognised her could reply the woman bellowed ‘I’m at the Royal the Academy now, ya ya, (listen up everyone I’m richer and more successful than you!) Catering wasn’t for me I had no life. Now I work at the Royal Academy (did the whole cafe hear that, pause for jealous gasps of amazement) we have moved to the posh bit of Putney (originally built for the working classes as London’s first housing estate) four bedrooms, dogs, two bathrooms (more than you’ve got).’

‘A swimming pool and room for a pony?’ Sibylla wanted to blurt out remembering Keeping Up Appearances on TV. But instead she squinted at her laptop that still hadn’t been paid for and grumbled she had never felt so poor.

The woman spun on her heels and started snapping orders about work to colleagues on various tables. No one else seemed to be speaking. Does she know this is Pret, not a boardroom, Sibylla wondered. All she had to boast of was a decade on state benefits, a charity owned flat with no sufficient windows in the ugliest edge of Brackenbury village and a bag full of catheters and notebooks. As she spoke her accent leaked with the voice of East End working class, too many cigarettes, all glazed over with city exquisiteness. it sounded an extra vocation to keep up.

There was a deep perverse longing to stand up and in the same false accent flail her hands declaring ‘I have a half sized toilet in a cupboard and sleep on a broken futon, my head only a piece of wood away from stinking noisy traffic. It’s fabulous darrrrlllllinnnggs.] Do the splits and return to her lunch.

She kept quiet and stuffed her mouth with the chewy pickle baguette.

 

 

 

Of London, Now Summer


‘All cities are shitholes and this one is the biggest of the lot of them.’ A man tells his friends walking over Hungerford Bridge. ‘There’s a body, face down in the stream….’ he begins to sing as I pause on the railing.

The rain had stopped in the hot evening breeze, water lapping in green. the theme tune of captain Pugwash echoed over the water in a surreal joke. It’s source, the latest boat ride for tourists in a R.I.B boat. Maybe they get to pretend they are being rescued from the Thames. And on the opposite bank as the din of too many buskers beats louder, a big pink route master bus is selling frozen yoghurts.

I hear the crowds amazement at a ring of b-boys. Beside the Eye a hen party hollers out ‘knees up mother brown’ doing kicks in their heels and squeezed on dresses in unexpected mash up of the decades.  I walk up to Westminster bridge as the big bonging of  bongs rings eight o’clock from Parliament, wishing light evenings could go on forever, that London could edit out its winters.

Of London: Illness and Writing, Back to Uni

Tottenham Court Road looks different now the rain has stopped, emptier, not so dense or fast as I remember. I have just seen my literature course leader for the first time in half a year about the never ending Vivien Eliot and writing as a response to illness. On a bit of a literary high as I know I don’t have the technique or ability to write it academically but as a subject I think I am actually on to something that other critics seem to have turned away from. In a literary sense illness, especially mental health is still something ugly to presenting a piece of writing as ‘literature’ and always needs to circumnavigate the bromide fuelled elephant in the room. Or it has to find something more worthy to make the writing worthy.

My tutor is the only person I have had a conversation with all week that isn’t a medic or therapist or support worker dealing with post sleep deprivation me. I am back on the B12 big needles and lovely nurse after my fatigue found a whole new universe of exhaustion.

Life has become one long list of medical appointments from the supported housing that takes no responsibility, not even acknowledgement of how it damaged my health and well being through ignored sleep deprivation and neglect of the elderly upstairs. Next week I am literally having my brain tested to see if there is any damage causing the sleep paralysis and hyper-sensitivity to noise.

Echo’s of the doctors of Virginia Woolf, Vivien Eliot’s doctors blame the ‘nerves’ it’s all down to nerve damage. I write of the damage of rest cures but I never got my rest and the manager of the Thomas Pocklington Trust thinks I made up the noise shocks of my neighbours dementia, the drunk singing ten hours straight, the ceilings shaking in the new flat. Maybe screaming ‘I thought I was dying, I moved because I thought I was dying up there,’ silenced her bullying patronising tone. She did nothing. They kept telling my there is nothing we can do about a woman with dementia alone every night for two years.

‘It seems everywhere you live you claim to be disturbed by noise.’

Then they say it must be growing up in the countryside, that I am not used to noise. My countryside was a house of 6, semi detached neighbours of varying amounts and ages on a main road. The fields became cramped housing estates. There was no noise because people actually went to bed at night. I grew up with people that went to school and went to work and went to bed at night. They were not mentally ill. They would not have been ignored if thery were screaming drunk, screaming afraid, screaming angry. I then spent 7 years living next t a dual carriageway before the mistake of the blind house.

But Thomas Pocklington Trust still insist I am the problem not their dismissal of mentally ill people. I love noise- I love fireworks and music and motorbike engines. I love the birds at dawn and foxes screaming. I love roaring crowds in stadium and thunderstorms. I can only write in noisy coffee shops in the blur of voices.

Hearing an elderly woman calling to be let out in the night, knowing you can help, can’t even get her to here you to get in and help, when it leaves you paralysed in the morning, inert in the afternoon, when you are then told the problem is in your head, in your preferences. That is when I don’t like noise.

The new flat lets me sleep more and the other flat tenants are nice. I wake early to the traffic and people in the street and it sounds as though I am outside but it doesn’t shock my like slamming doors and the thump thump of a walking stick against the ceiling, beating the radiator it thought was a door. So I am hopeful it will become o.k.

I ate chocolate for breakfast while phoning the council, the doctors and changing information. The streets were drying out walking the back way to Hammersmith bus station where the houses make me think of the 1930’s and people take their happy toddlers to nursery the bigger little ones to the primary school.

The glass elevator never works, always gives up on itself after I step in. I watched a man in the mall below hand out free cup cakes and I went the other way thinking there must be something truly significant in refusing cup cakes. In the bus que a police man, I thought was checking tickets for an unknown reason, was handing out leaflets on terrorism and a number to call if I suspect anything strange. Halfway across the Thames on the bus, saying my Wasteland T S Eliot lucky stanza in my head, the man opposite hollered ‘you son of a bitch.’ He was deeply lost to reality in whatever was on his phone screen.

My plan to get to uni early and get a knew card, write in that depressing purple basement of humming ventilation, ended in becoming soaked. I ate a Pret lunch with a backside like cold soup on a wet bench in Cavendish street. The route between campuses has always been guesswork but an old brick and sash cord window route of nostalgic city.

Every day since I moved from the suburbs I feel like I am in the first day on The Devil Wears Prada. I wake into the city pace that started the day long before me and calls me out into it. It needs energy and swiftness, a new walk weave through the intent bustle of everyone else trying to move the same. I feel I am living somebody else life yet still with no real reason to be in London, no proper income.

Before the grey mirrored block of uni two boys perched on a low window sill under the cusp of a windowsill above to share a cigarette in the rain. I pulled my coat around me with the missing buttons and climbed steps to shelter in the doorway of a mansion block. Sometimes it is forever a movie scene here.

Hot Sunday

As usual the entirety of Summer has decended on London. I have neither tiny shorts, tiny children or tiny dogs but headed back to Chiswick house. Despite the odd snooty comments from snooty ones, it is the most gorgeously peaceful park and gardens of peaceful lazy afternoons in London. 

If you love the film Atonement or books like The Thirteenth Tale then this location evokes a similar setting. It is a plaace full of pic-nicers and family ball games, winding paths and secluded spots to relax. 


The hot weather is heavy with the smells of car seats, outside meals, sweat and sunscreen and purfumed by intoxicating flowers and blossom. 

For a while I read Zelda Fitzgerald bare foot on the grass then decided to walk to the river without a map. 

The pathless road was blocked with parked cars and traffic squashing me between them. The Thames path was flooded. I walked the scorching motorway and got the first bus to Richmond. The accordionist at the station played the Amelie soundtrack. 

i think by then the sun hand got me as I got a bus to Hammersmith, panicked at Kew it was the wrong way and headed to Kew station. The district line broke. So I got a bus, a 30 min wait back to Richmond. Then another bus back to Hammersmith.this all took about three hours. So tiring and hot and with no one to chat to. No one talks to strangers in London except for directiond.