LIVING IN ZONE GAZILLION


Friday 18 October 2002

Apart from the fact that it's just as wrong for you to want to read this shit as it is for me to want to write it, I'm going to describe my surroundings. Shut up. It's an exercise, and I want to do it. I could at this point make a joke about it being the only form of exercise I'm interested in, but that would be a lie, for only this morning did I mash my shiny black German bike into the lift, ride across the pedestrian crossing into the park, and proceed to completely and utterly destroy my lungs and confuse my leg muscles by cycling extremely mega-fast around Finsbury Park for half an hour, so nyah.

When you never leave the house, you forget that such colours exist. And massive trees, not little spindly ones like you get in Elephant and Castle, that get kicked to bits by drunks and blaggards, but proper trees, that cling on the hills, and reach up to the sky, and travel frighteningly fast towards you when you are hurtling no-brakes down the grassy incline.

There was no one around; no cuntish cars to inform me that they are glad to see that my bike has a saddle, or that they like my breasts, or that I should get out of their way or they'll smear me down the kerb. It was like a computer game I played the other day where you ride on a jet-ski and go round corners and avoid bumping into things and go up ramps and make splashes. It was fast and zooming and dangerous and wild, and you don't get that by staying in bed, except when you do. The trees were green and they were lime and some were yellow and some were brown, and the sky tilted when I went round a corner.

I have never been further down the hill than the Sainsbury's, which is set back a way from the road, like they always are, just to remind pedestrians that nothing is ever designed for them. The first time we went there my sister proudly put on her new Adidas shell-toed trainers and then fell down in the mud, and sat there simultaneously laughing and crying. We bought five bottles of wine and two lottery tickets and waited for our ship to come in, but it never did.

There is never anyone interesting in the Sainsbury's, not like the Old Street Somerfield, which was tucked back and next to an Argos like some horrible Arndale Centre throwback, but was always full of people with intricate haircuts and trousers hanging low down their legs. On Brick Lane, in Taj, they have a hundred different vegetables, none of which do you know what they are. You buy pints of mango lassi and giant cans of chick peas, and peer up at yourself in the round anti-shoplifting mirror, and notice that you are the only non-Indian person in the shop, and you grin and grab some Bombay Mix, the red and green kind, to feed to the people coming round, because there are always people coming round when you live on Brick Lane, and you feel special. A boy tried to talk to me once, about the vegetables, because I was handling them assuredly, filling my basket with slabs of pumpkin and handfuls of green bananas; but that was the only curry I knew how to cook, and I had nothing to tell him. Here there is a small Turkish supermarket, but it's not the same. The bread is mouldy and the vegetables too dear. But the people are kind.

Last Friday, I went to the pub near the Sainsbury's. It was with the pErSoN I'M nOt gOinG tO tAlK aBoUt and the person was being crap because of the sItUaTiOn I'm nOt gOinG tO tAlK aBoUt. There were men beside us who stared. They stared at me and they stared at him and then their gaze dropped veeerrrryyy deliberately down to where my hand was resting on his thigh, and I shivered.

On my left was a woman of fifty with bleached hair and crepe hands with red nails, and a man smoking cigars. They were drinking pints with shots and not saying a word. The pub lights glared off the verdigris shiny ceiling and dazzled our smoke-smarting eyes and we fought about feminism and magazines. When we left it rained and I pulled the grey coat around me that I had bought from a charity shop. I loved the angle of its bell sleeves and the curl of the lambswool and the swing fifties cut. I had given it to my sister and now it was claiming me back.

The pErSoN walked off in the rain and I crossed the road and the lift slowly shuddered me back to the ninth floor. I scraped my feet against a smear of chewing-gum and closed my eyes and counted to ten.

I sleep on a sofa bed. I've become a Sofa Person. The Sofa Person has blurry edges because they don't have a nest. They are not homeless, but they are bedless. Whenever my ex-boyfriend's mum was depressed, she'd go to bed. It wasn't much of a bed, having a mattress built at some point in the seventeen-nineties, but it was a nest and it was hers; sheets and duvets awaiting her arrival: her perfume and products and skin-flakes; the pillows still sunk with her head-shape, open like a lover's hug.

The Sofa Person waits until everyone else has gone to bed before she can; otherwise, she takes a pillow and the tartan blanket from the chair by the door, and crashes wordlessly in front of the TV. One night I woke to find my sister preparing my sofabed for me: yanking off the pink duvet; dragging out the mattress; and gratitude spread through me like heatstroke. We groom each other like the kittens; enquiring after each other's days; making each other tea, lighting each other's cigarettes; swopping dinner for washing-up and washing-up for dinner. One day, when the future unfolds, I'll head to some unspecified place that has a bed and a door for me. And till then? I'll have a zones one to gazillion travelcard, please.


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