Musings

On Walthamstow Market and Feeling the Best I’ve Felt In Fucking Ages

Photo on 15-06-2013 at 12.50 #3

Pursuing bright green polyester with the intention of creating an amateur video effects lab, I got up and out of the house early this morning and trekked northeastwards towards Walthamstow Market, allegedly the destination for cheap fabric in London.

I had been reading the last few chapters of the beautiful Everything Is Illuminated (review to follow) as the Victoria line chugged me to its Northeastern tip, so my emotions were perhaps working on an elevated plane… but stepping off the train, across the road and onto, into, one of the longest street markets in Europe, I was filled me with incredible joy. Happiness. A high I have not felt, in any way, for any reason, for a very long time.

I felt, I don’t know… I felt like I was somewhere real. I felt like I was a place real life was happening. Somewhere unchanged and old-fashioned and charming and diverse and cheap and thrilling and dirty and and and and… fresh vegetables, imported mangoes, huge, shit, patterned dresses… stalls selling T-shirts nabbed from the back of a River Island… Watches, bags, toys… Bread, cakes, fruit… Noise and life and people. People eating, people talking, smoking, drinking… Disparate and diverse smells and scents surrounding me as I walked on, onwards, seeking fabric… Coffee, curry, booze, cologne, marijuana, cigarettes, fresh bread, squashed tomatoes, rotisserie chickens spinning on a stall on the street, bhajis frying, butchers’ shops spewing out into the street, into the road, into the world. People people people. Life, real fucking life. None of the pretence, the artifice, the glamour, the falsity of the London I’m more used to. Grit, dirt. Beautiful people with terrible skin, ugly people in the most horrendous of shoes… Shops arranged with no thought for marketing, design, decor. Piles. Life. Reality. The feel and the energy and the actuality of multiple existences, of multiple cultures – and I don’t mean in terms of race, I mean languages, accents, dress sense, what was being eaten, what was being drunk, what was being smoked… The smorgasbord of ethnicity and cultural overlapping that London is famous for and is so often falsified into middle-class, run of the mill faux yuppie polished chrome flat white tumblr instagram twitter blog blog blog shit fucking SHIT ARTIFICE in the parts of town I’m more used to seeing.

Let’s not forget that my response to a profound feeling of real existence, of  being somewhere that didn’t feel like the desensitised, tourist fantasy city… Is to come back to Islington and write about it. Write about it. I’m under no illusions that I am a fire of raging, burning, hipsterocrisy (that’s a combination of hipster and hypocrisy, if you didn’t get that), but I’m trapped. I want to feel, I want to feel outside, alive. But those two hours I spent, properly out East, reminded me of what I like about life. The fact that it’s busy and vibrant and different. REAL LIFE is not polished oak and cocktails… it’s people dressed in ill-fitting clothes buying pay-as-you-go phones ten years old from a teenager covered in bling…

And the worst thing about this, the real worst thing, is how disconnected this makes me look. Feel, in retrospect. I look like a fucking ghetto tourist. I wasn’t in a ghetto, I’m not an idiot. But I wasn’t in Zone One. And, for the first time in a very long time, I was truly, truly happy. What does that make me? Because I don’t want that, but nor was I feeling a smug sense of “my life is better than this”… The eruption of emotions, the joy and energy and vibrancy of real fucking movement… My life is too quiet. My world is too quiet. I need to get out more. I need to live in the Now.

A weird one.

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