Wandering Thoughts

June 24, 2009


Filed under: Going Places — terence @ 8:21 pm
Tags: ,

First time I got sick I stayed for a while with a friend in Bethnal Green. High up in a red-brick block of flats with black iron gates that separated the gentrified world within from the not so certain streets. I slept in the bed of a travelling South African. A window open for the summer heat let in sounds from the road below. One time, shouting woke me in the afternoon. Outside, a bunch of kids with pasty skin and shaven heads were trying to mug a Pakistani pizza delivery guy. He twirled a tiny length of chain as if it might fend them off, before thinking better of it and dashing for his scooter. Speeding away as one of the kids booted the back of the bike.

One night as I lay in bed unable to sleep I heard the smash of glass. Then the thump of car panelling being kicked. I lay flat on my back, curious but too sore to move. Wrench – a windscreen wiper bent or broken. Smash. Crack. One after another cars being vandalised. The trail of destruction moved under the window.

“Wait don’t ‘it that one,” a slurring drunken voice, an East End accent, “…it’s English.”


The owner of a Jag or a Rover got lucky and the vandals kept on down the street, breaking things, uglier than before, comforted by a lie.

…mainly built by foreign companies – Jaguar and Land Rover are owned by Tata Motors of India, BMW owns Mini and Rolls-Royce, Volkswagen owns Bentley, while the MG is owned by Nanjing Automobile Group of China…

Someone should have told them. But someone stayed quiet, staring up at the roof, a wandering New Zealander, immobilised by a disease he caught in Africa, listening to angry oafish East Enders kicking in their neighbours’ cars.


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