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For people who kill themselves

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27 March 2015

I almost walked out of work before even starting, waiting like a moron for my boss to open his door so I could ask why I hadn’t been paid. I called him two days ago and he said he’d get back to me.
In his office he said he would call the pay people on Monday and let me know. He asked me if I was struggling and without hesitation I told him I was. He said he’d lend me £100 out of his own pocket and that I could pay him back later. Until that moment I was indifferent towards him but this changed things. We shared a hint of a smile and I asked where he’d like me to work figuring I’d see him later about the loan.
I went out to the busy beer garden and got on clearing tables of glasses and plates, scanning any horizontal surface for lost valuables. I can’t look at the patrons because my hair sucks and I don’t know what to say when they talk to me.
Chris is behind the bar. He’s not worried about his hair, neither am I really. He always smiles and doesn’t get weird. His girlfriend is best with the bosses girlfriend. We talk about Italian shirts and I squirrel wedges from customers plates. I’m doing my best believe me. I realised a drinker had been watching me wedge and a jolt went right up me as I continued stacking glasses and refusing to look up.
I found a packet of unfinished cigarettes and as Charlie walked past with two towers of glasses I tucked them into his top pocket your the man!
There was a brown paper bag under one of the tables and I took it. There was a half eaten steak and a pair of orange Ray Bans.
A rugged looking new employee brought some glasses up as I was stacking the dishwasher and asked if I was Australian. He didn’t seem to notice I was weird and we cleaned up the beer garden together in the dark singing Tomorrow by Silver Chair. I found a gold pound in the stone floor crack marvelling at it in my fingers. I added it to the other 85p I’d already found and shifted the ray bans from my bulging jeans pocket into my shirt. If anyone came asking for them I’d give them back but they’d only be looted from lost property and sold for 20 quid.
I’m aware my morals are sliding but being poor makes it ok. If it weren’t for cashing someones’s oyster card I found in the dunny I wouldn’t have been able to get to work today or buy a chocolate orange from Poundland.
I was relieved about that loan though and could finally buy my girlfriend and I some food. But it felt like cheating because I wanted to be in this position out there broke in London. Making it up minute by minute not knowing later, in the jacket alone in the grey, pecking at the path, not knowing about the nits. Carry on only luggage euphoria and no alzheimers.
At the end of shift I realised the boss had gone home early without a loan and the Ray Ban’s had fallen out of my pocket so any relief would have to wait til tomorrow.

KH

 

4 Oct 2013

London doesn’t look the same in the darkness of 3am, there’s no people anywhere and all the restaurants along the South Bank have their outdoor tables and chairs neatly stacked and chained to the wall.

I’m wearing everything in my backpack and I’m still cold, laying here on the Victoria Embankment on part of the Thames River Wall. It’s overlooking the downward ramp entrance to RNLT Tower Life Boat Station which is a stones throw north from Waterloo Bridge. I’m on a granite block elevated to about head height of the passing pedestrians, it’s dark enough for them not to notice me but anyone with street eyes would spot me.

There’s rats running around and I can’t really sleep because the slab is cold and I’m freightened of rolling over the edge. Surreal moment : Am I actually doing this? It’s a section of time when you are sort of detached from the reality of your geographic location, so far away from home in a situation your mother would never have wanted. I understand why people talk to themselves, it’s like your the centre of the universe, everybody else is frozen and your walking around looking at whatever you like in Murgatroyd’s Garden.

I moved heading north toward Blackfriars Bridge and saw a little round man walking toward me with a shopping bag. Anyone walking around this early is a nutter so I held a reserve of tense curiousity.
I could smell his cologne and he invited me to sit down. There was not much space on the part of the bench he suggested and he did not move over despite the contact of our legs. He was from Romania and I didn’t feel like talking but he said he was starting a company and had some big plans. He asked for my email address which I gave him, then he left.

I crossed the bridge after looking for a better spot by walking into the tiled subway entrance to Blackfriars London. It was drenched in tuscan light not a sound at all, there were some people under blankets just outside.

On the South Bank on the otherside of the river almost directly opposite my previous spot I found Bernie Spain Gardens. I was so tired, I hadn’t slept for 48 hours since hitching from Glasgow.
There’s a bunch of scattered green benches there, right up the back of the small park I can see a white face supine on a bench facing me asleep in an eskimo rimmed sleeping bag. About 30 metres away to my right a man is sitting on another bench slumped with a big hood over his head shadowed from the garden lights by trees. He has no blankets.
I lie down and pull my sleeping bag over me which is only half effective now since washing it in a machine (it’s duck feathers.)
I look at the back of my eyelids, wondering if those sounds I hear are people walking up behind me with a bat about to bludgeon me for assaulting this public space with my seemingly worthless presence.

I hear the sound of jogging feet. I peak out of my sleeping bag and the black has turned to pale colour as people run past with their headphones on and men in suits walk to work not even looking at me. Those other two guys have gone.

Bernie Spain Gardens

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Black Friars Bridge
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RNLT Tower Life Boat Station

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