Saturday, November 13, 2004

after two years of hanging around south london, today is the first time i took Walworth road from the elephant&Castle all the way to Camberwell Green. how strange, it lingered there on my mind-map as a white spot. there was a border - somewhere around Burgess Park - beyond which I never ventured south. And from Camberwell Green I never took the road going north. I remember house hunting in camberwell - which will always sound Spanish to me, with a rolling r, because of my Spanish housemates with whom i was squatting at the time - and i remember patches of bikerides, through strange streets, estates waiting for demolition - and despair, and cold February wind in my face. sitting in my warm living room now, with the gas fire burning, i shudder, and cross my fingers, touch wood, god save us from winter eviction.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Cycling to Greenwich, I noticed a shopkeeper hanging two Palestinian flags outside, and a big black flag. So, it’s over, I thought; he’s dead. Strange, to learn about it in Deptford of all places. Palestine/Israel is here, with me, inside me, and on the headlines of the Evening Standard: Arafat Dies.

At Greenwich university I felt some glimpses of England: the majestic Naval building. The Plain trees shedding the leaves. The Thames, so close, visible from the top floor windows. But then; the 18 year old student; the overheated computer room.

When I came back home from the library, Greg was there. He’s passing through London; he spent a few months in Gaza two years ago, as an ISM volunteer. Naturally enough we talked about Arafat’s death. He asked me if I think it changes anything. Maybe not, I said. There’s nothing to stop all parties – Sharon, the Ameircans, the various Palestinian groups – to carry on exactly as before. But if the Palestinians demand elections – I can’t really see Sharon finding a way to refuse it – this has a prospect of improving things.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Pete: it's over, all over. my life is over.
I say goodnight and go upstairs. He's still there, sitting on the empty-turned-round bath tub, in the garden, near the bonfire, with Gary. it's guy fawkesday. four hours ago it sounded like war. now it's all quiet. they're out of sauce.
Pete: maybe michael still have some vodka, stached in his room. go and look for it gary.
Gary: that's not nice.
Pete: we're not nice, we're artists.
Gary is convinced. he goes upstairs. but searches in vain.
Pete: it's meaningless, Art, it's nothing, it's completely meaningless. It's just nothing. it doesn't exist. it's nothing.
He says, a bucket of shit has more meaning than Art.
we know a thing or two about buckets of shit.
Gary: I don't agree.
Pete sympathises: of course, it's terrible. because this means my life is meaningless.
it's guy fawkes night, the sky misty with smoke, and explosions are dying out.
i go upstairs to write this bit.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

depressions should occur less frequently during summer. am i to blame the shitty wheather, then? finding myself plunging deeper into some kind of an abyss. i'm hot and cold, writign cliches at Bloomsbury. my limbs are slow, my spirit weak. i dreamt about the Wailing Wall last night.
maybe some illicit doing can lift me up, but i feel like nothing.
and yeah. is it all about old complexes, resurfacing? T. is in town, passing briefly for a few hours. as usual, her mere presence is enough to cause anxiety. not that there's any reason: T. is my girl's best friend, that's it. it's the range of inferiorities i feel when they're together. why, i wonder, doesn't it mount up to a simple dislike. it would have been much easier. but it doesn't.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

last Saturday. I've just come back to London two days before. today we have to open a new house.
there is a plan on the kitchen wall: Saturday night - change padlock. Sunday - move in and start cleaning the place.
there are no names on the plan.
i say to sam: i'd like to go. but who else. everybody's working, everybody's busy. Gary's wrist is hurting. who can do the padlock? and where is P., who put the plan up on the wall in the first place.
Me and S. have sex. the first time since my return. we are interrupted by Sam. what's going on, she murmurs on the other side of the door. i don't know what's going on and i'm getting pissed off.
the hours go by. I call Gary he'll do it, we'll do it: Gary, S and Me. I tell sam she can go to sleep. I go to my room to rest a bit before Ga comes back - around midnight, he says. I'm dozing off. i fall into a rattle sleep. I'm thinking: he came home a bit pissed. it's all put off.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Racing through Commercial Road, I realized how happy I was to be back. How surprising, who would have thought. And Commercial Road, dirty, dire and dreary, of all places: with its Mecca Bingo on the right and McDonalds drive-thu on the left, that never-ending cycle to anywhere and from anywhere. But I was happy, blissfuly happy: I screamed and smiled and lauged and sung. London! Back in London! But why was I so happy? Was it the contrast between the ugly winter that still ruled here when I left, 6 weeks ago, and the spring – yes, a grey spring, drizzly spring, for sure, but the poplar trees are all covered with leaves, and there’s light until 9pm, and it’s not freezing, I can walk barefoot in my room – is it just that? Or is there something in London, about London, which I love?
I was talking about it with Jen just now – “it’s always like this” she said, “we all know what we hate about london, we know it so well, but when we love it, it’s so much more difficult to point to the things we like, to put your finger on it. But it’s there”.
I said I came to the conclusion it was me I liked in London: the London me. Yes, I said, it is a distracting, overwhelming place, but still; when I was in Jerusalem just now it was much more difficult to tell who I was, anymore, what do I believe in, what kind of life do I have. Jen agreed: it’s the same for her, she said, when she goes home to Sweden she’s much harder with herself, much more critical. Here we have it so easy: such freedom, released from any need to confront ourselves, we can do whatever we want, she said. And it’s dangerous, as well, it can be a real trap, this freedom.
She sighed: I’m so sorry to leave this place; I wish we could stay here for summer. I don’t care about Poplar [everyone has been slagging off the neighbourhood the last month], I love my room so much. Yes I love going into a new space and decorating it with myself, making it my own, but I’ve done it four times the last year, I’m tired.

Yesterday I was sitting with S + G in the communal, we were talking about skipping, about kissing, about sex: the usual, so unusualtalk, about kissing boys and girls. Whose best, and what is it about sex and relationships that we want. Ga told me about the house near the Elephant which they tried to open last week: we were on the roof, he said, everything so quiet, everything so slow, so rythmically slow: releasing the screws of the skylight, gently, in continious motion, but so very slowly. As if time stopped, we took the skylight out, then lowered D inside, inch by inch. The noise was deep, muted, as if some big fan started working, he said, it took me long seconds to realise what it was – D cried out – Alarm! And then suddenly it was all action, all quick, the speed of it, getting him out of there as soon as possible; movements and hands and shouts, getting away from there as soon as possible.
There’s something about opening houses which always makes me think of Time, I told him: how time can slow and quicken, stop and start; and how five minutes – in which you could be doing anything – can be so important for your next six months.
I hope it goes better the next time. That’s soon: we should be out of here by end of next week.