Then spree

poetry & diary by Nia Davies

Tag: Hackney

Dalston diary

It’s a Sunday afternoon. I lean out of my door. I wish I had a camera for this. There are yellow and green flags, a portrait of a moustachioed man waving above a procession heading up Kingsland road. And so out I go. In the electric air there are crackling shouts from a modest crowd, ‘Turkey! Terrorist!’. It’s a Kurdish protest against ‘Turkish atrocities’. This is Turkish Dalston and they are entering Turkish Stoke Newington. A few people look on with straight faces.

I love the atmosphere of a protest; people and passions colliding in peace. Soon everything is back to normal and the usual populations jostle around the empty market space. The familiar smells of both raw and barbequed meat pass in succession. The dragging work of TFL continues. With the new train line comes an extension of the City. We must all eventually circle the orbit of the gherkin like a game of swing-ball. For now Dalston is still raucous, scab-ended and bright with life.

Walking Diary – Hackney

Dalston to Hackney, November 23rd 2009

Wayward fig, feral weed of juicy fruits. Crawling up the wasted plot behind the old, probably squatted, Chomeley Boys club. And an old fireplace now forms part of the car park next to the Vortex Jazz club. There are graffitied sea horses swimming up the chimney breast. The wall fronts overflowing bins, a broken scooter. A river of froth snakes down off Kingsland High Street. There is a furious flapping as the bunting from a summer festival is strung out across an alleyway. Cross winds make the sound like that of the taut wire on mastheads in a stiff sea wind.

Ridley road market, where nappy rash cream is a bargain and Telapia comes with a free super malt. The sky looks set to sink into a jaundiced dusk. Cranes seem to sway in the wind, arching over our little heads, threatening to develop.

A man pulls his lips over his teeth for intent. An awning is inspired by the wind to take off and its owner groans as he tries to hold it down and fold it up. Pears for sale in bowl. Six for a pound, spike-end-up like the spires of green churches in a multi faith village. A blow-up doll’s feet are set with toes pointed down, painfully pinioned.

At the God’s First Hairdo shack Africa seems to pour forth, contained in a little off-shoot of the market.

Fake nails like neon tapestry work. Is this women’s work now that needlecraft is over? In Hackney Central there is a dusky glow over the Big Foot Dry Cleaners. It’s only 4pm. Buses are compressed like an artery ready to burst. The men of justice are on the beat, stringy bullets at the ready.

The moon bumps the clouds and the ragged end of autumn is dragging down yellows and browns – husks of the plane trees  speak with a hint of green.

Even if there’s no corner shop, café, laundrette. No barbershop, kebab house, art gallery – there’s always a Billy Hill. Reliable, dependable – always there when you need him. On every corner, even in the smallest of commercial hubs.

And it’s not just I who puts their old x-rays up against the windows to catch the light.

Tesco is selling the Twillight series for £3.86.  So that’s how cheap you can get your blood sucking thrills these days. In the Linden Children’s Centre, the condom distribution notice board is festooned in rainbow colours. A boy walks past with a yellow scarf. Instead of a football team it says – police line, do not cross.

© Nia Davies, 2009