I’ve sat in this armchair off and on now for almost a year ( just in case you were wondering I do get out of it from time to time – it’s not that I am actually glued to my armchair all the time ), but truth be told it’s normally a good few hours per day – on account of my creaky bones and the bloody arthritis.
As I sit and while away the hours and the days and the weeks until my shiny new hip is fitted by the N.H.S. I look out of the big bay window and watch this little corner of North London and the life in the street.
There’s not so much happening to be honest, it’s a fairly quiet little residential street not unlike thousands of others in London. Every once in a while there’s an argument when two vehicles approach from opposite directions and without room to pass each other in a street full of parked cars the encounters often descend into futile arguments. One driver screams and shouts at another, they trade insults for a while, each goading the other, refusing to give ground, occasionally they resort to blaring horns, as if they imagine the noise will make a difference, he who honks loudest and longest wins? There can be only one victor, eventually somebody gives in and the street returns quickly to it’s normal sleepy self.
There’s a satisfying cycle to the day, in the morning folks begin to leave for work, the kids head out for school, rushing for tubes and buses, on foot, on bikes and in cars.
Then the delivery drivers begin work, Amazon vans with electric engines head up and down the street silent sceptres with soundless engines on their endless cycles of delivery, supermarket vans with their differing logos deliver groceries, the postman in his shorts and blue shirt, his fat Royal Mail bag in regulation red.
The neighbours on one side are an elderly Chinese couple, today they have visitors, the family have come to visit, two grandchildren, around ten year olds and their mother.
Proceedings are carried out in the street, Covid still counts, a year ago when the fam would come to visit it was distanced, they would stand back on the pavement, the grandparents would stand at the front door, no touching, masks for all. Now a year on it’s still a distanced affair, but the gap has shrunk, they still meet outdoors, but now the grandparents step outside the door, the grandkids just a metre or so away, close enough to reach out and touch, the masks that once covered faces are pulled away, the granddaughter smiles at grandma as she talks, they almost touch, but not quite, gifts are exchanged, it looks as though grandma has cooked something for them – that’s grandmas the world over isn’t it? They stay together talking for a few minutes, as the meet up draws to an end grandma reaches for grand daughter, she strokes her arm, gently, tentatively, she’s unable to resist & it’s plain to see that love is alive and kicking in N17.
At a little after three p.m. the schoolchildren begin to trickle home from school, the boy and his younger brother, noisy and chattering, the mother pushing a wheelchair with an infant walking alongside back from nursery, then the workers one by one drift home from near and far their days work done.
The houses come to life once again and indoor lights are turned on as the evening draws in. Blinds and curtains are drawn, chinks of light peep out from behind therm, TV screens flicker and music plays, as it grows dark the street lights come on, the coming darkness bathed in pools of street-lamp white. The delivery drivers finish for the day and are replaced by scooters, drivers with pizzas and curries and kebabs in carrier bags ring doorbells.
N17 settles in for the evening as another day comes to an end and one by one the house lights are dimmed and the folk in my street and those in ten thousand others in London Town head to bed and I was here to see it all.