It’s such a pleasure to arrive home to my busy corner of South-East London in the evening. Work is in a dismally genteel portion of North London that would love to be Hampstead but doesn’t quite know how to go about it. I don’t know what Sigmund saw in it.
But once I’m south of the river it’s a different story. After the train has negotiated the shabbily trendy Peckham Rye it heads off down a secondary line, and quickly ducks into terraces of trees. Soon enough, I’m walking down the main road.
Just time to nip into the DIY shop before it closes. Then see what the local flowerselling mogul has left at the end of the day (irises yesterday). These days he’s so busy running his floral empire that he only comes out front to provide change in notes from the branch-thick roll kept in his market man’s apron. With his open-neck shirt neatly tucked into belted trousers, he’s old school South London and no mistake.
This time a young girl (a niece?) serves. We manage the whole transaction with the few consonants expressed coming entirely from my side of the counter. Being younger, she modulates “Alright?” to “Ao’ai-ai-ai?” in proper Estuary fashion (my wilds-of-Essex upbringing gives me a more clipped version: “A’righ?”).
Then, out to choose from the local foodstores. Certainly not the sleek and expensive deli: special occasions only. The famous specialist cheese shop will not be required tonight either (its tempting vegatable samosas will have sold out at lunchtime). The organic greengrocer is a popular choice for evening shopping, but tonight I’m visiting the Turkish ’supermarket’; at first glance it seems to be one of those London food stores where everything is squashy and dust-covered. Except that everything here — the boxes of vegetables outside, the cold counter full of home made mediterranean foods — is crisply wonderful.
Some Cyprus potatoes (from the north of the island, presumably), some salad, some Green & Black’s chocolate just in case, and home to forget that tomorrow I’ll have to head off to the barren steppes of the Finchley Road once again.