Back into old habits. In the same place, it’s full of people. I enjoyed seeing people yesterday, am enjoying them less today. It’s too noisy, I’m not used to being amongst crowds. I prefer the sombre half-state of desertion, forgotten places, dusty grey streets, all those evocative clichéd descriptive phrases I fall into the habit of filling pages with when I am unsure what I want to say.
Yesterday there were two young guys here, quite chavy, male, essexy, dressed in tracksuits and with middle region flesh showing. They hugged several times. I wondered if they were on a date, but I suspect they probably weren’t. Just now another group of young men all hugged each other too; maybe I’m the only person who doesn’t hug everyone. I’ll do it again soon.
I don’t think I’ll eat here today. It occurred to me yesterday that all the food from these canteens has a generic tasteless meat smell, and a textural blandness to it. It seems okay at the time, but okay is all it ever is. Orwellian “just enough pleasure” type food. I’ve thought about going over to Victoria, but I’m not sure I will. It’s a long way, and I have no reason to go that way now. The squalid but optimistic feel I sometimes have for old parts of the west of the city are not resonating with me today. It was nice sitting on the balcony in former times, but to go there today would feel like trying futilely to capture something lost. I can’t decide whether that would be a good or a bad thing. I thought about the western sunsets, even though I couldn’t see them under that great leaking roof. I enjoyed the sordid temporality, the passing through, the one-dimensioned lives, the sodium lights against the darkening skies, light diffused through dirty glass. That’s where the writing really started. Lollopy Simon won’t be there now, he’s in another part of the world. I fear it won’t be the same now, too clinical. I could try it I suppose. It used to be good to look at far off destinations on the train displays and dream of being far away, out of the city’s clutches. I do a lot of that. At the moment though I don’t seem to have the ability to think beyond the immediate. Managing the shop took it’s toll on me, I’m still recovering from that. Adjusting to work again means my mind is full of thinking about how that will all change. I’m confident that I will be able to adapt, interested to see how it will all develop, but also marginally detached from it; it’s a business I’ve grown with for decades, but I’ve done enough now. I must plan to use the time properly and productively outside work. I could have done that today, but came here instead. I need to tidy, pot, paint, dispose, sit, think, build, watch, reflect, write. Clean, eat, cook, steam. Steam clean.
I’ve made it here to Victoria after all. Some familiar faces. No trains at all on the southern side, which give it a feeling of eerie purposelessness. Inside there are tall thin round tables which would be good for plant pots on my balcony. I doubt I’d be able to steal one though, they all have numbers on them. I wonder where the previous, surplus furniture has gone, in a skip maybe, or to a huge storage place for general surplus stuff. There’s a group of people who have been travelling, maybe Eastern European, looking tired, one asleep. Chunky brutal men. I’d like to do some long distance travelling like that. Back pack, camera, notebooks, living in the same clothes, getting dirty, no direction to aim for. The odd guy is here, also the chunky Brazilian. I think I can only come here once a week or less. The appeal is different, detached, as if seen through a veil. It is more cruisy, more lone people, more dropouts, more seedy, more me. More interesting conversations to overhear. I have to go home soon.
Being back here has made me think about time. A past life re-awakened from over a year ago, yes, but also times further away in the past, which I only know of through reading. Guy Debord’s Situationist sprees around the Rive Gauche, Patrick Hamilton’s west London bedsitter inhabitants. If we could time travel I wouldn’t worry about the future, we can wait for that to arrive. Going to the past would enable us to revisit the people, places and movement which our rose-tinted memories tell us were good times. That is how nostalgia works, we like the past because we know how those times turned out. Paris in 1968 was riotous, but achieved a few things, and Mick Jagger made it sexy. Corfu in the 1930s seemed like a bohemian paradise on the tv series about the Durrell family. The past is known territory. Our memories deliberately blocks out the bad parts for self-survival, leaving only the good parts. So we think the past was always better. There are whole terrible groups on social media who exist to share old photographs of neighbourhoods, catalysing stories of what people used to do, how much things cost, what we got by without, all based on an unspoken assumption that “things have got worse”. I look at the photographs but avoid the words.
The future is unknown, always, obviously. Now perhaps that unknownness is more pressing, more present every day. I think I go into a state of numbness when contemplating change. It will have to happen, work, location, the future. I need to plan. I have been in far worse situations though. This year’s breakdown was far better managed. Funnily enough this one and the previous major one were about the same thing, largely. The fallout this time was contained. I should pursue the book business, and an MA.
The easterners have woken up and are laughing noisily. They’re pleasant though.