Wednesday, February 04, 2009

South London pastoral

Sunday. I am in my front room doing some decorating. I hear horse hooves. I look out the window. The first light flakes of snow are fluttering down. Into view, on my quiet Victorian terraced street in London SE4, come two horses, both dappled grey. On their backs, two white youth in hooded tops. Five minutes afterwards, I wonder if it happened or if I imagined it.

On to my music player comes Caetano Veloso singing "London, London", written when he was in chilly exile from the right-wing military dictatorship in Brazil. The eight words at the heart of the song sum up so perfectly what England is like: "Green grass, blue eyes, gray sky, God bless."*

Monday morning. The snow has settled. The schools are closed, the roads are still, many workplaces are shut. Blythe Hill park is clogged with kids on sledges, dads who have taken the day off. A sense of timelessness: could be a hundred years ago. It's a cliche to talk of London's villages, to talk about community spirit, but it was palpable. The TV talked about the billions lost to industry, but how does that compare to families actually spending time together? To adults - and teenagers - remembering how to be children?

A carnival feel. In carnival, there is a taste of a different life, the sense another world is possible. Not governed by the rhythms of labour and consumption. Beneath the snow, as the helicopter ambulance man on the news said last night, the definition disappears. The grid is whited out.

*Check out lovely cover (and great video) by another Brazilian exile in London, Cibelle

More South London snow: Transpontine, 853, Anette, Howard, Ali Kati, Bird Champ, David Marston, Moth. Bonus link: Beyond the implode.

4 comments:

The Contentious Centrist said...

"...there is a taste of a different life, the sense another world is possible."

Imagine the Middle East with a Canadian winter weather. What would it look, sound and be like, do you think?

bob said...

Ah, what a thought.

To put next to it: the wonderful utopian vision of a tropical London that Salman Rushdie imagines at the end of The Satanic Verses.

fleshisgrass said...

Now if it had only been you rather than Rhidian on this morning's Thought for the Day...

Ahmed said...

On their backs, two white youth in hooded tops.

Perhaps Gypsies from the camp at Brookmill Road?