a dark fraught place

by uzwi

Mid day I walk up & down Church St, a street the business of which takes place at other times. I walk up & down looking in shop windows until I reach the Rose & Crown at the junction with Albion Rd. Three or four paces ahead of me a young woman tries door after door, but everywhere is closed. Clothes shops, toy shops, book shops, shops which stock just nicely-designed things. No one wants to sell her anything. She can’t understand that. Once or twice, we acknowledge one another, exchange a shrug. What can you do ? we seem to say. Is this London we find ourselves in ? & the unspoken conversation ends there because we have so little else in common. It’s pleasantly empty in the Rose & Crown, just a couple of old men with big white beards drinking beer & someone else ordering a whiskey & coke at the endless bar where it starts going away into the shadows & chalked wine lists. I have a Becks; a packet of crisps, Irish cheddar with onion chutney flavour. Though the contents have never been anywhere near cheese or chutney or Ireland, those things are a pleasant fiction we can all have a piece of. The word “flavour” is printed in smaller letters than the rest. I am really & honestly very content with that, & with the view down Church St, which hardly seems awake & which looks as if it ought to be at the seaside. It didn’t look like that last time I was here. It was a dark fraught place & I was in a poor state too. Those days I had little connection with the scenes in which I found myself. What connection I could manage was through a kind of terror. It was my condition then to believe that I was haunted: but I was the haunting, & understanding that eventually taught me a lot.