I dreamed last night that I climbed high somewhere and saw some remains of old houses, but I couldn’t climb back down. They were small houses, terraced, just walls remaining, holes where there were once windows, perhaps northern. Later I was at a small untidy Tescos store, I think I was working there, although the typical feeling of being out of place was there, lurking, making me feel slightly sick, and I was trying to cover this, hoping no one would find me out. A stone came lose under the front door, I removed it and a smallish sink hole appeared, exposing electric cables, and preventing anyone entering. I don’t remember if the cables were intact, or had exposed conductors arcing. I often have quite vivid structured dreams, but they don’t remain in my memory for long. Could I describe them as structuralist? Probably not, but that does sound appealing. Sometimes they are startling. Sometimes I have to force myself awake, and it can take several minutes for me to realise it was a dream, and not real. I never try to analyse what they mean though. I think it’s best not to know. I can piece together references and themes, but I don’t feel there’s anything to gain in that level of self-analysis, every day. It would be exhaustingly pointless.
By now each morning has a pattern, washing up, coffee, laundry, internet, radio or podcast entertainment, set a bit of film exporting, then wonder what to do next. The wondering can the occupy an hour or two, or the whole day unless I get restless and choose to go out, just to break up the monotony. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. It could be better, I know that.
Afternoon. I’m back here again. Just been served by a young guy, boyish looks, strong northern accent, Yorkshire or Lancashire/Manchester. I’m sitting by the window, looking over the road at the old Improved Industrial Dwellings building, which was used in Mike Leigh’s film, High Hopes. There used to be four of these blocks in neat formation, with matching external staircases curling through the inside of the building’s footprint, but exposed to the elements. Four storeys of flats accessed from balconies off the staircases, and access to the flat roof for drying washing amongst the chimney pots, and looking over at the old Barlow train shed and the gothic station, before redevelopment for Eurostar. Now only one section of one block remains here, used as “startup enterprise workspaces”, externally preserved but probably reconfigured inside. There’s a similar block visible from the railway line from London Bridge to Waterloo East, on the right hand side at an angle, on a street at the perimeter of the Borough Market. The roof of that block was used for a scene in Lindsay Anderson’s bonkers surreal romp through the evils of consumerism O Lucky Man. Malcolm MacDowell is seen enjoying champagne from a large Electrolux fridge which is kept on the roof, presumably just for such scenes of decadence. In the background we can see the two spires of Cannon Street station, looking almost black with soot and grime, as much of London did for so many years. At St Pancras, the area I’m now sitting in was once vaults for storing beer barrels. Everything of importance used to be conveyed by railway.
I would have liked to have lived around here before redevelopment and the inevitable sterilisation that comes with “regeneration”. The Hillview Estate just over the other side of the Euston Road was another development of “good homes for artisans”, which a handful of Victorian benefactors were keen on building, for reasons of benevolence and probably a small helping of competitive industrial egotism. Sturdy red brick blocks with enclosed courtyards, bordering on Bloomsbury, which still has working class resonances, unusually for somewhere so central. By the 1980s it was riddled with lice and whores, a dumping ground for the council, populated by the dregs of a post-industrial city in decline. The drummer and guitarist in Breaking Glass squatted there. Kate, the lead singer, lived in a top floor flat in a Victorian house with an attic dormer window close to the westway, another area that was slightly down at heel and therefore affordable then. I don’t feel I know that part of West London at all. I often don’t feel I know London or belong in it any more. A while ago I thought about making a montage of film title sequences using panning shots over that part. There are at least three I can think of. The view west seems inspirational.
It was raining when I got here, the sort of fine definition-lacking rain that loiters for days sometimes. It’s stopped now but the sky is still grey and damp. We are set for weeks of that greyness this winter. The clocks go back an hour in the early morning. I enjoy carefree weekends like this, although they are not especially different to the days during the week. I don’t know whether to aim at Monday to Friday jobs now, perhaps for a while the routine would be good for me.
I feel I’ve written all I can write today. I’ll carry on reading about flaneurs. Later the same afternoon, I’m beginning to enjoy these time-based subheadings. A dog is barking. Why shouldn’t it? Giggly scratchy voices at the next table. Certain voices can become really painful to listen to.
There’s an anti-mask protest happening near Parliament Square. Someone on twitter complains that mainstream media isn’t covering it. I’ve suggested that no-one cares enough any more.