From the tube station, exit left to the High Road. Pass the fruit and veg stand. They are already selling daffodils and the asparagus looks fresh. Turn up the High Road, cross, and cross, to where the bicycles stand. Stop. Turn ahead. Wait for a break In traffic. (I have seen people and cyclists hit.) Cross, twice again: Now at Baronsmere (You’ll know by the billboard; corner-shop – left; chemist – right.) go straight. Stay on pavement, right. First right. Third right. You’re there.
Yesterday evening I was walking home and took a moment, as I turned past the pharmacy, to snapshot the corner shop opposite. It’s been closed for some months now, covered in torn, graffitied posters of the liquors it once offered for sale. On Saturday morning, after meeting a friend for a coffee and collecting an order, I again took a moment. This time, under the awning of another corner shop in the neighbourhood, I took in the low table of luxurious orchids, arthuriums and bromelias. These were not your usual scrappy £8.99, plastic-sleeved bouquets. Had I forgotten it was Mother’s Day or something?
From this point at Kentucky Fried Chicken I must make a choice. Should I cross the road? On the other side is the second-hand bookshop, the tempting window of a charity shop and a few cute coffee places, one of which I follow on insta for their cake and pastry updates. On the KFC side is the youth arts centre, a grocer-deli that has an ardent local following and the Thai eatery that I love for its disco fish tank and attentive service.
The last third of the High Road is my favourite section. At the four-way preceding while waiting for the lights to change, I may pause to look up at the stucco and decorations of the late-Victorian buildings (I presume, thought must check), take in the sky (grey, clouded, sometimes blue), glance at the other pedestrians waiting to cross, log Domino’s and the gastro-pub on the corner, perhaps there will be some red buses on the roads, too. At these moments, I’ll think, yes, here I am living in London.
I’m now intrigued to pick up a copy of a new art book from Laurence King – Think like a street photographer. (Seen on insta, like so much of what tempts my consumerist urges these days.) I like the idea that the poet may also be a notetaker of the street.
For more street snippets see
- Pavement Writer
- The colours of the street have changed
- Near Liverpool Street under scaffolding
- On a traffic island halfway across High Road, evening
Today’s poem is in Necessary Work, a forthcoming collection of BeadedQuill’s more recent poems.
In the meantime, have a look at Jangle between Jangle, a recent mini-book of verse written while jangling to-and-fro across London in pre-pandemic commute times.