London Rants

Camden days and a 50’s nightmare

I have this general difficulty with writing about my own life, because I’m often convinced that it’s the dullest thing in the world, and that nothing is really happening. Then and again, I’m not really sure what I’d expect from a weekend where I’d decided I needed to stay in and read (admittedly, I really enjoyed what I’d read – Pieces of Eight by Gordon White, his pretty incredible collection of short pieces on chaos magick in the post-Carroll era) and just generally minimise the amount of money I’m spending.

Well, actually, I lied – life has been happening. Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon waiting for someone to come and see to the hot water – we haven’t had any hot water running in the flat since Wednesday (I know …), and it only takes about a day without hot water to make you realise how much you appreciate a good shower. Trust me – I boiled myself a pot of hot water on the hob earlier and washed myself with a cloth, and I must say, I never imagined I’d be so immensely pleased by the pore-opening, muscle-easing splash of freshly heated aqua on the skin. God, life can be good, even if it feels like you’re stuck in a bad post-World-War nightmare of rationing from the early 50’s.  Anyway, after waiting for aeons, I heard the gratifying click of keys in the door and left my flatmate in to take my place so I could head out for a short grocery run and to pick up some stationery.

To my dismay the usual shop I get my stationery from was closed – and in my determination to get what I wanted I hopped on the Tube to get to Camden. Camden Town. The once-grimy, once-hip alternative dream of north London now swamped with same-y stalls selling the same-y stuff (mostly badly printed T-shirts and assorted “oriental” paraphernalia) and frequented by innocuous tourists and the occasional Goth still clinging on to some long-dead heyday (although Sai-Sai is an excellent place for Japanese Goth apparel).  Call it spontaneity or a couldn’t-care-less attitude but I popped up at Camden Town station all the same and found myself caught in the expected mill of people trying to battle through the bottlenecks that tend to form around the stations least equipped to handle them. Following the slip-stream I found myself finally on the street – and, shock, horror, discovered that the Ryman’s I was looking for wasn’t there.

Thank God for Google Maps. Found that it had moved about a street down and got my stuff, but not before I’d done the obligatory sweep of the nearby shops. I’ve never been one for the shops filled with imitation Tibetan flags, cushions overdone with sequins and frills and bronze Buddha statues but there’s always time for pushing at your comfort zones, and while I must say it’s unlikely I’ll go back to the shop again, it’s fascinating to think about how someone who frequents shops like these sees the world around them, or how these shops relate to them as a person, whether spiritually or aesthetically. Possibly I’ll never really understand as I grew up around the “Eastern” traditions (really not a fan of the East–West divide personally) and view them in a different light but just because you might never break through some perceptive divides doesn’t mean you can’t wonder. Wondering (and the occasional wandering) is what I do.

Pretty much spent the rest of the evening just reading and looking into St. Cyprian. That’s probably a discussion for another time.

Otherwise, it’s looking like a fairly quiet Sunday ahead. Think I’ll play the millennial and go grab some liquid caffeine down by Store Street and have a poke around Treadwell’s as I usually do most days I’m in the area.

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