An example of the new and old face of Peckham.
New is the man pushing a buggy. Once this was a rare sight, now they are everywhere. I wonder, though, if beards are about redressing the balance. As if to say, I may be a caring, sharing type of guy but I’m also a caveman.
New is the Foxtons’ sign, or F for short. They too are everywhere.
Old is the fab looking hairdressers. New and old is the artwork. A portrait of Diana Ross circa 1960?
There was a crow busily eating something with a flurry of whiteness around the meal; another stood guard. It was a two-bird operation. My bus had yet to crest the hill, which meant I had time to wander over, outstare the crows and check out the action. On the menu: rare pigeon.
Given the number of them, I have (occasionally) wondered why you don’t see more dead pigeons. At the other end of the avian life span I’ve never seen a baby pigeon. Then the bus came.
I went to a friend’s delightful afternoon party on Sunday; guests were invited for tea and champagne. I drank a cup of tea and then I drank champagne… and today I don’t feel near as bubbly as yesterday.
I listened to a radio play once set probably at a time when women wore crinoline. The heroine had become unwell and languished on the chaise longue. A man of respectable status determined to minister to her immediately sent for champagne. Since then I have viewed it not only as a delicious indulgence, but as a drink with revivifying qualities. A glass right now might be good.
I used to do PR for NME (New Musical Express), which is why I was at one of their parties. A man with wispy hair and beard, wearing a satin dressing gown asked me to dance. I didn’t say no, something about those eyes framed in round glasses, appealed. But who was this eccentric guy? I had no idea but I remember feeling quite self-conscious. To my shame! For it turned out I had been asked to dance by Vivian Stanshall, he of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. I have tried to write a poem about this and in it I imagine meeting him among the stars (once I, too, have died) and whispering that the honour was all mine. For he was more fabulous than a stack of Ming dynasty pots, finely cracked.
Last Christmas Eve I read about a family – mum, dad and a three-year old – forced to escape from Eritrea when the man was conscripted into the army, which is the equivalent of enslavement. (His best friend chose another escape and killed himself.) The family crossed the Sahara (others died on the way) and ‘lived like dogs’ in Libya. Eventually, they reached France where they found shelter in a derelict sports centre in Calais, no heat or toilets. The mother, pregnant, cooked potatoes over a fire of twigs. Her husband worried about finding a lorry for them in which to hide, on which to cling so to reach safety. Strikes me this story has parallels to a certain other famous family’s flight from danger.
When I take photos my body is tense in a way that makes me feel centred. Breathing stops on the in-breath. There’s a moment of stillness before the shutter is depressed. I use a camera with a viewfinder, and I’ve just realised that it’s my left eye that does the work.
During the early days of digital photography, I watched a couple at Malaga airport reviewing their holiday photos… they hadn’t even left Spain. Instant nostalgia! Almost made me hanker for the days when you had to wait for the chemist to give you your packet of snaps. ‘You’ll have to come back on Monday.’
There’s a new petition doing the rounds to give women’s contribution to politics – the way we live now! – a higher profile in the education of A-level students. Seems the government is attempting to squeeze women into a closet, labelled ‘not really important’. Reminds me of the passionate suffragette, Emily Wilding Davison, who spent the night in a broom cupboard in the House of Commons (coinciding with 1911 census) in her campaign for women’s right to vote. And now the closet yawns again.