Clapham has become a village, around a green. The streets barely populated, though every supermarket with queues to enter (Tesco, Waitrose, M&S). By the time you hit the park it’s quite crowded, albeit each of us 2m apart -an army of dog walkers, joggers, footballers, weight lifters, cross-fitters and yoga poses as far as the eye can see, clogging up the horizons. Plus the odd toker, affiliated to certain certified benches. Sitting in cross-legged rings, furtively swigging cider, hands on knees to adopt a tantric position should the copshop suddenly materialise, charging from the bushes. We positioned ourselves in the centre of the field to be able to see them coming, then catching up: gossiping, bitching, laughing and swapping news stories. We’ve nowt to report life-wise, it’s all too static. Drinking in the sun, just the one -I am become everything I said I wouldn’t be.
Then the slow traipse home, stopping often. The shop windows, some empty, others promising alternate realities of a different time -but all in still, frozen as a photo. The setting sun, the empty glass of the world -people passing lonesome in the air so clear. Weird, that there are no more animals.
Positively suburban bliss.
Ubiquitous selfies, not sure why. Maybe if I DIE.
But then the harsh disconnect and back to reality.
Next is the worst fucking street in the Junction, the covered section of the A3207, or Falcon Road, and one of the most heavily used to access all the supermarkets, shops, bars and pubs. Dank is the word, no other better description. It divides up the residential spivs from the upscale shopping area right next door, and is suitably manky to ward off any gentrification exploring beyond the WholeFoods, despite it being only a few dozen metres distant.
I very much want to put up a sign saying Here Be Dragons over the awning, beyond which our estate was originally posited, alongside a small and good natured gathering of local drunks at the light at the end of the tunnel, right by the gates of our highrise patch. These folk can be likened to handy gatemen (and one woman), the aged Caribbean guys on one side and the younger East Europeans and homeless on the other pavement, each talking in their native dialects, and who guard against the spectre of rising house prices that our estate could fall swooningly into. A large chunk of them are delivery guys from the parked scooters congregating, local shopkeepers keeping them company, or those out of work and in the next-door housing. These people are utterly, utterly safe -J finds them an annoyance, I prefer to look on them as public figureheads defending the realm.
The ‘street’ itself drips with slime, enough for stalactite formation they’ll one day come to study and take school groups to eye in wonder. The walls are slurried and dangerous to touch, accumulating pollutants and industrial guano -not even graffitti dares, as likely it won’t even stick. Grey water drips interminably from above, as to make people bring brollies for the stretch, and is filled with exhaust fumes for the hundred metre sojourn, with a pavement so narrow (no one wants to walk under the soggy ventilation pipe) you can’t have two abreast or have difficulty in passing. Two directions on the same sidewalk is problematic. When it rains it becomes a sewer, and a very splashy one with large tsunami-generating puddles at either end -so ubiquitous we should give them names, like Lake Eeerie or Eyeball.
Then once outside you’ve passed through the eye of the needle and straight into the swankier high street. In short if it weren’t for the tunnel everything beyond would have long been turned into a leafy nappy valley, and their giant pavement hogging three wheelers:
This sorry state of affairs is due to two competing councils I’ve heard, that one side of the street is Wandsworth and the other Lambeth, and that they’ve argued like tits over who’s going to cop the bill for the clean, e.g. the roof. Or that it would be silly to just clean one half, insofar as it’s scientifically impossible to correlate gameplans. Or that you know, they just can’t be arsed. The poor do not warrant the effort, and neither do they write in with strongly-worded diatribes.
I do worry. I’m becoming the small town window twitcher, writing letters to the council. Who are of course irremediable fuckclowns the lot of em.
1. All Black folk be talkin like they from the ghetto. Even if they’re a stockbroker, an office manager, cop, priest, mayor or judge. Man, whatchoosayin?
2. If you’re a Black man you shoot the hoop on your time off. You are kool n the gang with your White buddy. In a family friendly, Neighbourhood Watch friendly, approachably middle class yet gangsterly kinda way. Like LL Cool Jay in Deep Blue Sea.
You’re funny, likely musical. Likely had a career as America’s most famous Black comedian du jour, that one job that made you approachable to White folk.
3. If you’re a Black woman, you’re sassy. Empowered. Endearingly obnoxious – you tells it how it is, as you are the salt o’ the earth easy to anger, easy to laugh. You are big but you wear it tight, and take no prisoners nor shy from anything Heeelll No! A lot of the time you are angry, you’ve had to be this way to defend yourself in thug society. You are not shy, retiring or ever, ever quiet.
4. Every Black church is the heart of the working class community, evangelical and full of shafts of morning light, uplifting music, and clapping. The preacher will be fiery and impassioned, as will be the be-hatted congregation who will sing, shout and nod their rather stupid exhortations throughout the service. There will be several middle aged women fanning themselves and mhhhmmming.
5. If you’re an older Black woman with a serious expression, there are many, many opportunities to become a High Court judge. Approximately 85% of all judges in America are made up of older, Black women with serious expressions as a sign of what a progressive, fair and egalitarian society that country harbours. You will be firm but fair, and liable to call all lawyers up to the bench to give stern admonishments to over your serious glasses.
6. If you’re British there are many, many opportunities to become an evil, globally dominating villain of the highest order. Or a butler. If you’re not insufferably posh (first choice), you can settle for being Cockney. This is the closest to foreign you will ever see.
7. All spies are White, 30 something, fit and 99% male with a token female who is a real ballbreaker. Also STRIKINGLY good looking, made up, manicured and well dressed the entire time she’s jumping rooftops, like a supermodel striding around on a corporate shoot. For some reason they blend seamlessly into any crowd, however foreign, and will not be looked at by anyone ever. All spies spend most of their time running around shooting stuff (East European shaven headed thugs mostly, which most men from that part of the world are), attending gala events (transformed!), getting involved in spectacular car chases, with minimal office work, shopping, going to the loo, queueing for a latte, getting their cat de-wormed, or dayjobs. They do not keep a low profile at all.
8. All muggers are stupid, pale Wasp men in their late Twenties who bear striking resemblances to LA waiting staff, but with dark leather jackets/ hoody, hobo hat and needing a shave. They will often have the tables turned on them.
9. All people with dark hair, at some later stage in the story, will reveal themselves to actually be Jewish, usually by namedropping Bar Mitzvahs, bagels, schmucks, or their super Jewish, neurotic parents. Chances are they are also loud, sassy and endearingly obnoxious as Black women. But more highly strung. -They are people too. Like if they didn’t announce their religion you woulda carried on thinking how lovely they were haa!
10. Ethnic minorities do not cry. Given the opportunity, they are stoic. Though really it’s just they never reach that stage of character development in their lives and loves (unless you’re single in NYC, ridiculously skyscraper-owningly rich, powerful, handsome, well groomed, funny, inventive, kind, educated, strong, rich, did I mention rich? Like billionaire rich, ripped, fatherly and heart-rendingly widowed enough to court Waspy new secretary in town, Dakota Johnson).
11. All maids are lovely Mexican women who can barely string a sentence together in English. They work hard and look after several impoverished families back in Latin America, for which their low paid job is a lifeline for the entire favela, and 75% of the Mexican economy that’s not drug related. As a loving, kind and surrogate mother they brought up generations of neglected yet sweet rich kids who dumped them on gaining their inheritance. They are all resoundingly, frailly illegal. Live in a cupboard (or possibly the stairs at night -no one really knows) with a crucifix on the wall.
12. LA is riven with Latino gang members who wear slick hair, 90s plaid, do their top buttons up, and sport bandanas like Notorious B.I.G. Their quasi-Mexican accents are as thick as yo mamacita’s guacamole. They prefer knives to guns. Those are for Black people. Statistically they are the least represented on-screen race per capita to their real time population, more so than even the semi-mythical East Asians.
13. Italian Americans have lovely, huge nouveaux riches families and are adoring to their kids, despite their murderous mafia links. One of these ‘family friends’ will be obese and thuggish; and they will all talk with the Italian East coast accent ( not to be confused with the pan Jewish East coast accent, or New Jerseyitians). The long suffering wives wear a lot of gold, peroxide and have big hair, and can be just as ruthless despite their feminine charms. Not to be confused with Jewish princesses.
Actually fuck, it Jews, Italians and New Jerseyudlians are one and the same. They just change surnames on set.
14. Native Americans are middle aged, wise, long haired and monosyllabic. They live on reservations or national parks and often sport cowboy hats paired with clinking jewelry, beads and totems as constant reminders of their timeless, majestic, pre-modern culture that your collective forefathers truly fucked to the tune of 98.7% of their missing gene pool. They tend to drive vintage trucks and have guns they use for manly stuff, especially when they switch to horseridin’ (they’re all hunters and trackers).
They do not catch trains or hang out in cyberspace, schools, libraries, malls, cities, gyms, Chinese restaurants, nail bars, playgrounds, hair salons, comedy clubs, theatres, sports clubs or bars. They prefer to buy their alcohol and drink it copiously at the trailer park or on the range. They are all male.
15. East Europeans. Women are pale, blonde, blue-eyed gun-toting Slavs, cold, beautiful and casually evil. They will sleep with you for money, perhaps sell their child. Men are dark, shaven-headed, yet unshaved, chain-smoking, gun-toting Gipsies. -Whether you’re a henchman or an oligarch you’re the same side of Dodge city. They have yet to register a personality among them, being sociopaths yet lacking the narcissism. Children are on an autism spectrum.
It’s always cold. There is no music where the sun does not shine. And Vodka, lots of it.
16. Asians don’t really exist. Except as news reporters; or waiting staff.
16b. South Asians, despite being the world’s biggest ethnicity, really don’t exist.
Race appropriate(d) roleplay.
White folk: Spies, office workers, bartenders, truckers, pilots, captains, muggers, parking attendants, waiting staff, shop assistants, artists, art students, subjects of art, ballerinas, ex-pats (not to be confused with ‘immigrants’), travelers, firefighters, surgeons, mountaineers (not to be confused with Sherpas, ‘locals’, or guides who do the same thing), ice skaters, ice hockey players, skiers, snowboarders- pretty much anything cold related
…swimmers, lifeguards, divers, pool babes – pretty much anything water related, farmers/ ranchers, cowboys, Mounties, line-dancers, woodcutters, hunters, hippies, eco-warriors, extreme sports enthusiasts, – hell, pretty much anything outdoors related.
…Europeans, American tourists, academia, hipsters, nerds, rock enthusiasts, Goths/ emos, toll booth operators, Icelandic fishermen. Serial killers. Vampires. Ghosts. Werewolves. Dinner party guests involving pent up, over-the-hill upper middle class people, in melodramas with endless discussion, trying hard to be funny and blasé by talking about sex.
East Europeans: henchmen, oligarchs, thugs, prostitutes, sociopaths, spies, cruel women.
Black folk: Hip hop/ rap, R n B artists, musicians, gang members, basketballers, anything else just so long it’s not academic/ science / tech / finance/ rural / outdoors / er, water / or art related. Judges (see 5. Black women).
Mixed race: Hip hop/ rap, R n B artists, gang members, techs, nerds, occasional hipsters -the more approachable side of what it is to being Black (read: sports, music and crime). If you’re Black you can be a rapper, if you’re mixed race you might even be a poet.
Latinos: Maids, gang members, policemen (California only). US/Mexico border control, border crossers, cross dressers. Mexican prostitutes. Drug lords. Token cowboys.
East Asians: You are not in the army, you are not in the arts, you are not in academia, you are not in entertainment, you are not outdoorsy. You are not bar staff, surf instructing, cheer leading, basketball playin’ or any sport in general. You like business school, medicine, tech or nerdy stuff and news presenting. You do not hang out in bars, have family picnics, wait in post office queues, operate toll booths or any random activity that you do (but don’t – I mean do). You are peripheral.
Arabs and Middle Easterners: Terrorists. Misunderstood terrorists. Understandable terrorists. Innocent civilians terrifically terrorised by terrorists. You do not hang out in bars, have family picnics, wait in post office queues, operate toll booths, or any random activity that you do (but don’t – I mean do). Terrorists.
South Asians: Sorry, who are you again?
South East Asians: Sandra! Can you show these nice people where the coffee machine and cookies are?
450 million Burmese/ Indonesians/ Malays/ Filipinos – Wait, no. What???