Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Bricks collapsing in upon one another inside a window frame. Beyond that frame the pile of bricks mounts up all around clustering around that entrance. I crane my neck out the upstairs window on the bus rudely past the passenger on the inside of me, staying with the bricks for as long as possible. In the background, Alexandra Palace, shimmering on the hill. At the carnival I go down a side-street where multi-coloured animals fill the space between the buildings from pavement to pavement. People are enmeshed within the drapes and foam, preparing, standing this way and that, adjusting head-gear, taking pictures of one another.
I take some pictures and it looks like an animation on my screen with only the glint of eyes hinting through at the real-life aspect. In one animal- some kind of white lizard, there is no head at all. Just the odd motion or swaying from within. Then the head pops out and rolls to one side. A sleepy child sitting on the pavement waiting to begin.

Later in the thrall of people I try to make my way down a side street but am blocked by police. Suddenly that gateway is opened and I am literally pumped down that channel. I want to cross the road and get into the park. The swim of people are pressing in. I step on to the road where the parade is moving but a woman holds me up. I say I want to get to the park. She says I need to go around to the end of the procession. I look out into the distance at a shimmer that fades but never ceases. It just keeps coming. She looks as well. Finally she brushes me through. In the park a man is doing body moves with the children and throwing out hand-fulls of sweets which many eyes watch searing through the sky, then pounce on. A large woman tries to get them too but the kids are on them before she has even bent over. She straightens up again quickly. There's a basin where children run, holding on to the rim so that very suddenly you are face to face with one of them. Then letting go and falling down, turning and running on to the bumps and mounds in the centre they become smaller.

A small boy with a barrel chest, shorts and stick out hair keeps low to the surface feeling out the smoothness with his hands, clambering up a bit, slipping down, falling on to his bottom, turning on to all fours, jumping up, then propelling onwards again until the next slope or curve slows him and positioned now onto one of the small mounds in the centre, he is jumping up and down, working up a rhythm with his whole body raised and lowered in tandem so that a jolt seems to rivet through his frame each time his feet slam into the concrete. When he runs back through to the steep part of the slope a mature woman with blonde hair, a salmon pink ruffled skirt and a white blouse bandaged around her breasts, moves unevenly to the top of the rim and hoists the boy up with his outstretched arms. At the top he jumps up and down once again and then rolls back down on his bottom with his hands to either side of him, and his feet scrambling, slowing him. Another child rolls his trycicle to the rim and when it rolls back down towards him he sits down on it. A skinny girl, older than the others, does cart-wheels back and forwards continuously up on the rim near a group of adults.
The music from the parade is making the park throb. People lie out on every patch of available space. The smells of chicken cooking are everywhere. I eat a piece of cake. The air is full of smoke and as the sun lowers, light cuts through these wafts of haze between the trees, revealing a limb, a hand, a gesture, a breathing stomach a chair-leg or dis-used  polystyrene container. A man buys corn where it is being cooked on a large grill. It is put for him into a brown paper bag which he pulls half-way down immediatly as he is walking away so that his mouth can make contact with the sweet burnt corn.

Old people line the edges of the park facing outwards to the gay paraphenelia of the parade. They have deckchairs, easy chairs, stools and hard-backed chairs. Some carry umbrellas and most have elabrate sun-shades attached to their hats. Some of the women wear multi-floral headscarves which hold in place wrap-around glasses. A young black man who is very skinny and wears a neatly pressed checked shirt tucked into his belted jeans and who has on his face heavy rimmed black glasses calls down to some people from the top of the slope next to the concrete basin where the kids are still running and jumping. A thin tall elegant black woman and a fair haired man with blue track suit bottoms and a T.shirt with foreign wording on it make it up the slope holding hands and stand a little distance apart from the other man, with arms around each other.
I go down to the street again where the parade is on-going. There is a man across the road in an immaculate white suite standing by the sporting club. With all the commotion in the street -the comings and goings of trucks, sound-systems and winged men and the red head-dresses of dancing women- I am transfixed by this apparition shimmering in the distance. He is so completely still.  In the park again I watch the police using a very specific hand-gesture with an open palm which looks more like an invitation but is used by them almost like a flipper to direct and/or inhibit the flow of people. A young officer with reddened cheeks and his helmet crushed down too far over his narrow head is trying to execute this gesture effectively. He keeps stopping and adjusting an earpiece. As it happens, perhaps because the command keeps changing so regularly, the special flipper gesture floats a certain section through and all of a sudden, almost randomly inhibits the entry of this person or that, who simply flow around the edges of his flipper hand or wait a moment until the order reverses in on itself and helplessly he lets the built up surge flow through.  He looks hastily from right to left at his co-workers who are busy becoming gates and levies all of their own. Then suddenly a rigid panel up ahead is formed with layer upon layer of uniformed bodies that seal off the top of the road as the truck rolls to a halt and again the procession is jolted out of any continuous motion- compartmentalised into short "takes". One man in a puffer jacket rheels against the obstruction he faces. He reverses into a backflow through the crowd which he bombards his way through. Time passes and a back-log builds up behind the truck, of people on people. The police now begin to seperate out again streaming out from the centre line like a knot unravelling. The engine of the truck engages.

Across the park by the side of the canal there are black metal steps that spiral up to the level above where the road just past the junction spans across the water. These stairways are blocked off from ground level with a large wooden board tied to either end of the bannisters and resting on the grass. Up above on the bridge a policeman has his back to the black metal gates. People are entering and leavng the park through a tiny slit in the greenery. I pass through as well and stand watching people trailing off along a narrow path in single file next to the water on which some boats are also moving.

Walking back down a side street far from the parade I stop outside a pub for a guinness. There is a woman sitting by the side of the road with her head  in her hands. She stays like that and does not change her position all the time I am there. Her hair is over her face. As I pass her later on I see a transparent tube coming out from a square blue hip bag by her side and feeding across her chest into her mouth.

No comments:

Post a Comment