Monday, November 14, 2011
1981: No one knows I'm here for sure
It was meant to be one of those days the world ended. But of course it wasn't, and I never thought it would be. Who in their right mind would?
I was far more preoccupied about a daytrip to London to see my cousin who'd recently moved there. Back then, London did seem awfully far away. Strange, exotic, exciting and scary all at the same time. He was seven years older than me and quite obviously now a grown-up with a job and a flat and a life. How amazing.
The reality was not so glamorous, far more workaday, but still to me, a 16-year-old from teh sticks beyond thrilling. SO on a dark November day in this year my aunt and uncle set off with me and my grandma and a vat of 'curry and rice' as it was always called, not just curry - the rice bit was an add-on - to London. My uncle had a reputation as the slowest driver in Europe, so setting off early meant it took at least four hours to get there. And with this being pre-M3days, it was a big old trek.
I'd been London a handful of times before, but now I was of an age where the big city was an alluring temptress I was taking far more notice. This is where it was at, after all. Sort of. My cousin lived above Shoppers' Paradise in Kentish Town Road, in a tiny flat which was more of a bedsit really. But hey, at least he was there.
The major drawback with that flat (to me), was that the previous tenant had died there and not been discovered for about six weeks. They had to freeze the body to remove it. This didn't faze my cousin at all. It fazed me.
Kentish Town Road, though even more down at heel than it is today, was a treasure trove of London-only delights: Sketchley, Underwoods, a Kickers store that you could rollerskate into. It was a different world.
On the way home in the dark, I gazed out the window, taking it all in and knew that one day, it would all be mine. This Soft Cell song, in the charts at the time, though bleak and forbidding still offered promises of a different kind of life, one only lived in lonely cities where no one would notice if you had died or not.
No, there would be no bedsitter for me.