What I’ve struggled with since returning to London is the enormous distances you have to travel to get anywhere. From departing my flat in Stamford Hill/Stoke Newington, I traipse through street after street, after street, after street (25 minutes to be precise) before alighting on board the 149 to Hoxton.
Stamford Hill is a Haerdi Jewish village and it makes for a sinister handmaiden’s tale. I’ve become fascinated by the visual segregation of the Jews since I’ve moved here. The passive hostility you feel walking past swarms of men in long black coats and side curls.
Watching shaven headed mothers with wigs pushing buggies, the ultra-Orthodox community is a frozen repository of piety that dates back to the 18th century. Global souls like me are ignored to preserve the other-worldly purity of their sect. I’m just a passing visitor with no social responsibilities. I wear my headphones as ear muffs and sport £40 Americana jeans and Nike trainers.
N16 does feel incredibly isolated and with no tube or central train line, you can only escape by taking multiple red buses. The insularity of Stamford Hill is simultaneously suffocating and quaint. I unwisely entertain unsubstantiated theories about what might happen behind closed doors. You should never do that, but I’m probably not alone in wondering how other people live their lives.
From walking along a crystal arrow in Florence with its magnificent arrangement of green hills, geniuses and endless blue sky…to trudging through Stamford Hill on red busses, I’ve given up on London (again). I used to think nothing of travelling to the West End for a night out, but just leaving the house now feels like a chore.
With its occasional flourishes of love and glamour, London is a machine to live in alright, one filled with rootless metropolitan trash.
On that note, my next stop is Lisbon.