For a piece of English coursework I was asked to describe a simple event in detail, using a piece by John Steinbeck, 'Breakfast', as a guide. As always I struggled for an idea and resorted to asking my mother for help. "Why not do it on Camden?" Eyes were rolled but after a while I accepted that her idea was better than mine and that is what I did.
Some poor misguided fool suggested I node it and as I have nothing better to do...
As I broke away from the bustle of the busy station I moved onto the street. The pavement was already bursting, littered with groups of friends and people on their own, many of whom had turned their backs to the ongoing stream of human traffic. The heavy sultry sky seemed to fill me with an awkward anticipation. Allowing myself to be swept along I suddenly became very aware of my own being, feeling uncomfortable, yet guilty for it in the same confusing instant.
The vibrant colours inhabiting the shops were out of place, cruelly abstract against the haggard architecture, after failed attempts to disguise their long since decaying corpses. Spinning globes flaunted their youthful energy, bringing to mind futuristic preconceptions of gleaming metal and flying cars, while jeans of momentous proportions hung from the brickwork high above in a fashion of which Dali would have been proud.
I felt a stranger, intruding on this foreign scene, but angry with myself for making presumptions like those of narrow-minded people, which I myself despise. I tried to look on with the eyes of an innocent young child greedy for new experiences, not judging what lay before me.
And so it was, with unease, that I travelled around the first maze of stalls weaving my way through narrow passages distancing myself a little, but warming unconsciously as their treasures unfolded before me. Nagged from behind by my companions with familiar, icy stares I felt pushed to move on, spiralling round once more before returning to the road, fuelled by the ammunition which was meant to discourage me.
The market had finished, or so I thought, but still I wandered on, down that same teaming street as before, but on crossing the road found more stalls which opened into a vast labyrinth more interesting than the site I had previously visited, as now I was filled with a defiance of a naughty child who had just been told off.
I felt the warm sunlight, breathing gently on the back of my neck.
I was drawn towards an opening of bright colours and fluorescent white light, in which stood a young woman. She was tall and slim and her acid red hair fell loosely about her soft face. She smiled a slight, genuine smile as I walked passed. The clothes were amazing, so individual, I had never seen anything quite like them, and they had a personal feel about them.
“Would you like to try that on?” she asked, seeing that I had picked up a top.
“Um. Yeah, thanks,” I said.
She nodded and gestured towards two cubicles, and I stepped inside the one on the left.
“That looks lovely,” she said, ”a really nice neckline, I think.”
I smiled, trying to ignore my more cynical nature.
Stepping out into the open, after the inevitable changing of money, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the contrasting smells: the fresh exoticness of fast food, not boring burgers and chips, but hot eastern delights and old clothes in warm, musty caves, wanted again after years of lonely isolation.
Winding my way through the tangled pathways of the labyrinth I stumbled upon a little tranquillity amongst the madness in the form of a canal, which I crossed by way of a steep hump-backed bridge, near to the lock. A longboat was sandwiched between the lock gates, watched by a host of onlookers, whilst its crew busied themselves with the gates oblivious of their audience.
Walking back along the busy road, there was now music playing from one of the shops, somehow breathing life into the street. To my right an old man was dancing, moving his stick in time to the beat, and humming along to the sweet melody.
Allowing myself to be swept along, I turned to my left but then slowed down a little. Sitting against the wall of a bank was a woman who looked to be in her late thirties. She looked very tired and was holding her head in her hands. The pavement was littered with groups of friends and people on their own, all of whom had turned their backs to this woman. I doubt many people saw the blood falling down her neck.
The sky was heavy, sultry sky filled me with awkward anticipation.