Pavement blood splatter glints metallic in the morning sun,
I’m hoping it’s cherry stone bird shit but no, it weaves a linear trail away up the street.
The midnight sirens I romanticised to a city backdrop come back into my mind, a figure running from a blue flash heartbeat into the dark.
Chopping block blood splatter sluices down the market stall pavement, end of the day swilling to foam and wet tarmac.
Son of the market trader, voice barely broken, calls out the wares
‘Pork steaks, lamb chops two for a pound now, lovely pork steaks’
Every accent is a local one in London, twenty languages I can’t understand, filled with city movements, purpose and time, lyrical laughter with a story unfolding behind.
A black man with a heavily scarred face weaves between my feet and wheels, with arms length wielding of a litter picker, in the ten minutes I’ve been here he has covered the whole square of the shopping mall under the watchful eye of the Angel sculpture. I’m assuming he is a refugee from a war torn African state and is probably a well-qualified doctor, but he could just as easily be born and bred in this borough, scarred in a car crash as a teenager.
A building contractor hauling sheets of plywood behind a boarded up vacant plot offers to help me up the not so dropped curb.
He begins apologising for the condition of London’s pavements.
‘Well it’s not so bad’ I say, ‘at least they’ve started and it is getting better’
Yes, it’s getting better.
The last hundred yards feels like a mile.
I stop at the entrance, haul myself up to standing with the iron railing, taking a breath before the final effort.
Two women come by smiling, dykes I think, the black one with the stylish denim jacket and the sharply cropped hair bleached to orange, offers to help.
Effortlessly she picks up the chair and puts it at the top of the short flight.
She waits, holding on to it while I make my way up behind her
‘Didn’t want it rolling away on you’ she says
I thank them, wrestling with tears as they head off, animated chatter, plans and protests fill the air, then fade away round the corner.
Janet Jones, 49, Brighton