Brenda’s Unfortunate Record #21


On Tuesday evening I was invited up one of those New Labour-looking (although in reality, probably more Coalition) blocks at Dalston Square. For the second day in a row, I’d been struggling to make my life look interesting on a highjacked instagram feed. ‘If only this had started on Sunday!’, when we’d swanned down to catch Red Axes in Brixton before ending up in a basement party in boarded up Soho. There was even an altercation outside McDonald’s on the way home – teenage girls with bloody knuckles and plenty of day-glo coppers. All far more interesting than my four studio walls. In saying that, it seemed my most popular post was with laptop and midi keyboard, so what do I know? But yes, I was needing outside stimulus.

Kristina’s parents had arrived in town for a 3 day visit and were staying in a 14th floor AirBnB. I’ve been living around here far longer than that complex, but have never been higher than Hackney Library, two stories up. In fact I realised I’d never even walked down towards the Richmond Road end of the square where I was surprised to find a ‘could be anywhere in the modern world’ primary school and some lavish-looking ‘could be anywhere in the modern world’ lobby, decked out with chandeliers & generous seating. Was it a hotel? A hairdressers? Although there was something about it which reminded me of Manchester’s Spinningfields district, or more specifically an all-you-can-eat Brazilian meat restaurant I was once taken to before a gig. Scratch chin, stuff to ponder as I buzz the adjacent building. 

Diversion : Years ago I took part in a group photoshoot for ID magazine. I guess it had seemed a clever PR move to sandwich me in with some London-scene I wasn’t really a part of. We were at The George Tavern and I’d spent the day lurking timidly in the shadows as far more extroverted and close-knitted characters jostled for the spotlight. The session culminated with a one-to-one interview and I was asked the best thing about the city. I remember being embarrassed about my answer, ‘the way it looks from the sky’, especially after seeing the confused look on my manager’s face and reading another girl’s response a few weeks later. ‘It’s ghosts’, sounded sooooo much cooler, but now I stand by my 21 year old self. 

I love flying into London. Looking down on the weave of Victorian terraces – like tightly braided locks or strings of pearls. Nothing’s straight and this city’s got it’s own unique sprawl. Even after spending quite a few years taking off and landing on any given weekend, from any given airport, I can’t imagine tiring of the sight. Depending on the light and flight-path, there’s always something slightly different. In saying that, despite the variations, you do get used to a certain perspective from the plane. 

So I arrive up to the flat. Kristina’s bought some bubbly (thank you!) and the west-facing balcony doors are open. The view is mind-blowing. We’re all mesmerised, including Kristina’s mum who suffers vertigo (and I have to admit, pressed up against those railings, staring straight down to the alley-way, my thrilled knees feel a wobble too). To the right you can see Alexandra Palace piercing the clouds and down to the left, the City’s starting to illuminate. If you look carefully, the dome of St Paul’s is just about poking it’s full cap between two of the Barbican towers. Nothing more poignant than a dwarfed monument, right? The Nat West Tower’s lit up with a Valentine heart and the skyline’s dotted with hundreds of red-crane peepers. Of course they’re for aviation safety but I like the allusion of what else they may solicit. 

Closer to home, it’s strange seeing your neighbourhood from such a different angle. Despite having spent years stomping up and down Stoke Newington Road I’d never noticed how much it buckled – like a total dogleg past Shacklewell Lane! And then there’s the stuff you never knew was there – that big parking lot off Ball’s Pond Road? We all agree it’s like being in another city. And in that respect, I don’t think it’s something I’d want to get used to. Not like it’s ever the kinda place I could afford to live in, but I quite like the idea of a mini-holiday, 14 floors up, just down the road.


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