Of London: The girl in the Rookery

“What happened to you?” I say out loud on the narrow corner like finding a friend I’d lost in the crowd of a wild night, all dishevelled and crouched below Centrepoint.

The pub still bares its name. Graffiti clad chipboard coffins our old drinking days. The dropped flyers of rock music nights and goth clothing shops that were dropped in the rain as I stumbled in Velvet heels are replaced with weeds and litter. It has been years. We sat in a vodka sticky booth up in the rafters convulsing with laughter at men headbanging.

This was once the Rookery and look at you now; ramshackle carbunkle on the edge of modernity. I’d raise a glass to you if I was barricaded out.

Not once in those nights did I notice the church. It’s grounds funnel out the rain and I wonder how the homeless man by the vestry door can carry so many bags wherever he’s been. He squats with a large umbrella against a tomb.

There’s a not so secret, secret garden along the next alley. Rusty railings and ivy give peeping holes to an overgrown haven of little benches and leaves.

Narrow streets and overcrowding have led to narrow streets and overcrowding only the bricks are new. What must the place have seen with its lean-to, p dwellings where strangers shared the same floor for a shillings sleep and a pisspot? Where did all the tenants go the day St Giles slum was pushed down? Did they turn to the whores and children and sickly thieves and declare ‘we shall erect a night club and a sushi cafe!’?

Six fetid years I lived in a four bedrooms Edwardian terraced slum-share with over 20 tenants, sometimes 5 in a room with one broken bed. I could not find work or a single other property that accepted housing benefit. Sleep was best in the day when most were out and dealers and mental patients were at their quietest. Do I let those times slip from memories or write them?

A charity has housed me in a studio I relish for the peace and white clean space.

At uni we study the metropolis, modernist living and the flaneur- his need for wonder and chance encounters. I used to walk London for hours and hours writing fiction in my head that has failed. I sought life beyond my own took’ and returned to do trapeze alone in the night.

I wish I could say all the things in this city I’ve seen. I wish I could tell my lecturer that behind my mute note taking I am like the thing of story books in this London place.

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