They always told me I couldn’t do it, I’d never be able to achieve my dreams. It isn’t possible for someone round here to do it, we’re not meant to be successful, we’re supposed to stay like this all of our lives, feeling sorry for ourselves, knowing our place in society. You listen because you think that they’re wise, they’ve seen it all, they know what they are talking about. They had been in your shoes, they had tried and failed and now they don’t want you to waste your time doing the same. Yeah, wise, been there and done that.

Then you get old and you become rebellious, who are they to tell me what I can and can’t do? What I can and can’t dream of doing? Everyone has dreams, places they want to see, things to achieve. It might be difficult but you can still do it. Why does everyone have to be the same? They just don’t have the same desire as you. You’re still trying to be persuasive though, you think you’re persuading them, but really you’re trying to persuade yourself, you’re not telling them they are wrong, you’re telling yourself that they are wrong but really you’re not sure.

Youthful hopes and dreams slowly turn into fatigue and struggle. You knew it would be difficult, but you didn’t think it’d be this difficult. Perhaps it isn’t worth it after all, maybe you are destined for a life of struggle and knowing your places. Those dreams can be happy memories from childhood when you were young, innocent, naive, didn’t realise the realities of the world. You’re not content, you just are, you do what you have to do to get by, aspirations don’t go beyond that. You start to look at young children and you’re thinking the same way as those who were telling you not to try when you were a kid.

When it’s all over, when there is nothing left to hope for, when the years of struggle and hardship you were told you were destined to live have been lived, you look back and wonder why you didn’t try that bit harder, why didn’t you believe in yourself? You know it could have been different if you really had wanted it to be. You just didn’t believe enough, or you did believe, you believed in what they told you, you never really had a grasp of them dreams and now there is nothing you can do. You lived how they told you you would, deep down you believed them and not yourself, it was all just a self fulfilling prophecy.


The Great Unwashed

It’s great round here, you’re near Portobello market, Notting Hill, not that far away from the centre of town. It’s a bit different from where I used to live, but it’s so real, you know?  You get to see real people, real characters, we didn’t have that in the little town that I grew up in. Friends asked me if I was sure I wanted to move in here, they said it might be a bit dangerous, a lot of them dodgy types.  That’s what I want though, a bit of adventure, living somewhere really nice like Kensington, that’s no fun.  I could afford it of course but I want to live with and understand real people.  Besides I’m not the only one that’s been moving in here.

I don’t get all these people with loads of money that are moving in here.  It’s like they think it’s ‘cool’ to live with people that haven’t had it as easy as they have.  They don’t get that they’re never going to be one of us, besides they can walk away anytime they want most of us can’t afford that.  Funny thing is, it isn’t even that dangerous around here, but I suppose when you’ve grown up somewhere like they have it’s different.  I wouldn’t be bothered but they end up bringing all their own people around here, it’s like they dilute the community.  We’ve lived here for years and now they come along and suddenly people take notice of us.

One of my friends is thinking about opening a juice bar on the top floor of the block.  I don’t know why someone hasn’t thought about it before.  There’s so much you could do with this place, make it look a little bit better, feel a little bit better.  I think the residents would appreciate it too, bring a bit of extra bit of money to the area.  It’s one of the things that I miss, not being able to get good food and drinks close by.  I’m sure everyone else that lives here would appreciate it.  There seems to be a few apartments for sale in the block, I’ve been trying to persuade my friends to buy them, I really do think they’d love it here, get to know the real London, you know?

They’re supposed to be opening a ‘juice bar’ on the top floor.  I don’t even know what a ‘juice bar’ is.  If I want juice I go to the shop and buy one.  They all go on and on about wanting to live with us but then they come in and start opening things like ‘juice bars’ and vegetarian restaurants like they’re doing us a favour.  Not a single person I know that has lived here for a long time wants these things, anyway what good is it going to do us?  I’m not going to get anything out of it, they’re the only ones that are going to profit. They don’t get it though, it’s all about them, for all their talk the only people they care about are themselves and their friends from the suburbs and how ‘cool’ and ‘edgy’ they are.

I feel really connected to the people here, you know?  It’s like I understand them.  I can see what it’s like to live in poverty, or with drug addiction.  A lot of the kids only have their mothers too, I can’t imagine what that must be like.  It’d be great if more people were like me and tried to understand how other people live.  I doubt I’ll stay here forever or anything, well maybe, but we’ll have to see what property prices are like.  I’ll always remember it though, you know?  Living among the needy, a great learning experience in life, something to tell the kids when I’ve progressed up the career ladder and finally have some.

They’ll never have any connection with us, they don’t get that though.  It’s like they think we’re all destitute and poor.  Some people struggle to get by but I wouldn’t say anyone is poor.  Understanding?  What understanding is there to be had?  If they understood us they wouldn’t be trying to change everything.  It isn’t theirs to change but they’ve got money, and that’s all that matters these days ain’t it?  No one asks us if we want all these people moving in and opening juice bars and pretending that they have some kind of connection with us.  They don’t and they never will, at some point it won’t be trendy to live here anymore and they’ll all go away to try and ‘understand’ some other place.

There are many parts of London that have been gentrified in recent years, they’ve lost the character that they used to have.  People with money move in because they think it’s a ‘cool’ place to live and they’re are seeing the ‘real’ London.  As more and more move in it completely changes a place and affects the communities that live there.  Bars and restaurants start opening that have no appeal to the people that have always lived there. The building in the picture is one of those places, it’s quite a famous building because of the brutalist architecture.  I used to go to college just behind it when I was a kid.

Quick Message

I’ve not been writing much recently as I have been putting all my efforts into finishing my first book which will be published soon. I’ll be back to writing at least once a day from Monday!

I’d also like to say thank you again to all my followers, your comments and follows have been one of the reasons that I have persisted in finishing this book. It took me a long time to start a blog, even though people suggested I should, but I am delighted that many of you enjoy reading what I write. So thank you, it’s really helped me keep going on these long nights I’m spending finishing it off!


Bottles and Wallets

Sitting in her balcony again, another pile of books, another five hours of homework.  Watching the world below her that fuels her imagination, brief respites from the relentless work she has to do.  Today it is not so busy, there are only a few people selling food, the bars empty, no stools out on the streets for the late night revelers to sit on.  The old lady is there again, looking through the rubbish bins, looking for the bottles.  Her bag seems less full today.  She sees her every night, a strange connection with a person she doesn’t know, may not even recognise if she saw her on the street.

The woman walks away, her bowed, unhappy with her days foraging.  The girl has a feeling of sadness and helplessness, there’s nothing she can do to help her.  She wonders if the woman has any family, if she does why aren’t they helping her?  She lets out a sigh and looks back to her books.  Turning the pages, not able to concentrate even though it is unusually quiet.  A man falls out of one of the bars, he crawls over to one of the people selling food, they look down at him and then move the cart on, the man gives up crawling and falls face first onto the floor.

The old lady has come back, her bag still half empty.  She walks over to one of the carts selling noodles, the owner becomes animated and she walks away.  She sits down on the curb of the pavement, head bowed again.  The girl goes inside with her books, she does not want to sit here and watch her desperate plight.  She sits down at her desk, tries to carry on reading her books but the words are just a blur, her mind elsewhere.  Curiosity takes her back out to the balcony, the woman is still sitting there, a passerby hands her a plastic bottle which he takes gratefully, but it’s still not enough.

The man who had fallen on the floor was crawling again, heading towards the same curb that the bottle collector is sitting on.  The girl has a feeling of fear, worrying what this drunk man might do to the lady.  The lady appears to notice him, edging away down the curb.  The man falls on his face again, not moving.  People walking past take no notice, maybe they are scared or they just don’t care.  The girl feels an anger rise inside her, a man in a helpless situation and an old lady forgotten by society side by side and no one cares.  The food sellers not even having the heart to feed her, the people walking past not having the heart to help him up.

Something is on the floor next to the man, a small black object that she can’t make out from high up on her balcony.  The old lady puts her bag down on the floor, and approaches the man.  Taps him on the face several times but there is no reaction.  She picks up the the black object, studying it, then puts it back inside the mans jacket pocket.  The girls attention focused on them, none of them have noticed that the bag of bottles have gone.  The old lady looks around desperately, asking the food sellers where it has gone, they all ignore her.  She sits back down on the curb, this time holding her head in her hands.

A tear runs down the girls face, there is nothing she can do.  The old lady is now standing again, she walks back towards the man, again tapping his face and still no reaction.  Giving up she walks away, no bag and no bottles, hungry and tired, still finding time to take care of someone she doesn’t know, someone that has far more than she does.  The girl rests her head on her arms and closes her eyes, she’ll sleep for an hour, hoping to dream of better things than what she has just seen, hoping to awake to see an old lady with a sack full of bottles, she won’t, but she can still hope.

This story is a continuation from another two that I wrote before:

Bottle Collector

Looking Down