Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Lower Clapton dance...

A friend drew my attention this video a few weeks back featuring young musicians/rappers local to the area I live in. The video is stunning (I think) for a number of reasons - the fact it was shot on a Canon 5d (the kind of camera Sam has) and features such an incredible wealth of faces and stories. The song is titled “Upper Clapton Dance” - I live on the edge of Lower Clapton and Upper Clapton, so this is kind of a story of my neighbourhood. The video gives you a flavour of the popular sound here - “grime”.

These streets are so diverse - it makes me think of a newspaper clipping I was given as a parting gift from a friend in Cyprus to read on the plane to my new life in England. It stated that the diverse megalopolis of London was as close to Civilisation as we can get - due to this very potent mix of people living beside and alongside one another.

En route to the bus stop in the morning I pass parents walking their children to school; it’s a parade of both commonality and difference. Women in full niqab (veil) push prams and guide little hands across roads. Turkish, Pakistani, Caribbean faces similarly wink past. Up on Chatsworth Road I drink marvelous coffee made by a group of cheery Italians. On the bus to Finsbury Park I pass through Europe’s largest Hasidic Jewish community, otherwise known as the “square mile of piety” due to the number of men walking the area in their distinctive black robes, hats and payots (sidelocks). Then there is the French community that congregates around the Columbia flower market. Nigerian, Vietnamese and Jamaican fast food shops crowd the streets advertising sensoury sounding dishes like “Curry Goat”. All this within 20 minutes of my home. Oh and London’s (surprisingly small) Cambodian community has a meeting house just up the road.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The end of the day

I wander back to the beach to watch the light fade over the Pier and enjoy some fish and chips.
To begin, start here.


They drop me outside the Grand Hotel, the grandest hotel in Eastbourne. Claude Debussy resided here with his French (and married) lover Emma Bardac in an effort to escape scandal. His symphonic suite La Mer was finished looking out at this coast.

Two sisters...

I befriend two sisters on the Pier who proceed to bustle me into their car and take me to the lighthouse. They're back for the weekend to remember the old days of bringing children and husbands to the seaside. Shirley's just lost her husband and is appropriately lost, Brenda remembers an affair with a gardener. They're sad I've come during winter, but to be honest, winter suits the British coast. The light is fragile, soft and sweeping. The cold just bearable. We stand on the cliffs and look out to sea, the Downs behind us alive with rabbits. We're dressed alike, in old lady coats sourced from charity shops. Brenda's sensible socks keep her slender ankles enclosed with warmth. There's a shared glint in the eye - making friends in such places surely brings a adventurous joy to a day that was going to be spent in solitude.

And here it is...

...in all it's glory.


I picked Eastbourne, a quiet little Victorian seaside town in Sussex. Once home to Charles Dickens, Louis Carroll and Sir Earnest Shackleton.

Where to begin a story?

From a train, is as good a place as any. This is me leaving London for the coast. A thought late last night, a pin into wikipedia, a destination decided on.