This weekend I’ll be at the Wilderness Festival, leading a poetry workshop for my friends at the wonderful Idler Academy, who are also offering lectures on camping, gypsy music and foraging (I’m on at Sunday at 3pm if you’re around). Then next week I’ll mainly be packing boxes and being made to hold by utility companies, as we’ve (finally) exchanged contracts for our move from Dalston to Peckham – I may be quiet the rest of the month whilst I scrub things and attempt to get my broadband sorted.
I’m sad to move away from East London – I’ve lived here since I moved into a shared house off Brick Lane 12 years ago, and have been in my Dalston flat for 6 years. When we first looked round it, it was less than alluring – carpet had been laid upon carpet; the dark lounge was lined with wardrobes and the Romanian owner was boiling a cabbage. There were crack-whores on the stairs every night and Kingsland Road seemed to regularly shut down for stabbings (see my poem The Skulls of Dalston).
But we slowly did the flat up: sanding the floorboards, painting my study Bombay Yellow and opening up the fireplace so we could have a real fire in winter. We got to know the people in our block, which seemed to sum up Dalston’s diversity: Columbian, American, Polish, German.
And I fell in love with the area – the Turkish supermarkets full of halloumi, lamb chops and bunches of mint and coriander; sneaking to the art-deco Rio cinema on wet afternoons; the bright hand-painted signs on Ridley Road market; the walk to London Fields Lido. Lots of our friends moved locally too -handy for impromptu kebabs or parties or BBQs.
Lately it’s gentrified a lot (there’s a hairdressers at the end of my road called ‘Blue Tit’). For a while we’ve wanted more space and I’m desperate for a garden, so we’re selling up to move to the (cheaper) South. The prospect of moving to a new area is exciting – I like change – although I know ridiculously little about Peckham. My sum of knowledge comes down to: Only Fools and Horses; Muriel Spark’s The Ballad of Peckham Rye and the fact I once went to a Campari bar called Frank’s Café on top of a multistory car-park there and drank a negroni.
As readers of this blog will know, I’m very keen on Campari-based cocktails, so this is definitely encouraging, but if you have any more Peckham tips, I’d appreciate them…