Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Everything is going to be alright

When I was a poor student (as opposed to the poor, middle aged unemployed girl I am now), I set down stakes in a particularly cheap part of Hackney in now-trendy east London.

At the time, it was the only moderately affordable part of the city in which a student could find digs. That was before the area's pre-Olympics makeover. It was still a real neighbourhood then. There were no chain stores on the high street. There were still anarchists' and artists' squats in the neighbourhood. The Turkish guys who ran the off licence around the corner where we bought our milk and tomatoes would lend us money for the bus if we were running short. Every Sunday, this big group of Jamaicans who frequented the pub down the street would set up an old steel drum, light a fire, and serve jerk chicken right there on the pavement from their improvised BBQ. It was - at least in my mind's eye - idyllic.

(There were also three times in the two years I lived there that crime scene police tape prevented us from entering our flat four hours on end. The particular stretch of Hackney we occupied became notoriously known as the Murder Mile. It really was 'inner city', with all the connotations that term evokes. Well...I said it was idyllic, not perfect).

Anyway, at the time it was just barely becoming the haven for arts that it is today, and at the end of a derelict old dead end street the artist Martin Creed had chosen to place one of his now famous light installations on the portico of an abandoned building.
 
It read: EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT



The building, which has an interesting history in its own right as the 19th century home of the London Orphans Asylum (oh, the historical irony!), was a sight I passed every day on my way from the train station. Sitting at the end of that street I walked past, it's pale blue light would catch my eye at an oblique angle as the twilight was setting in. Located in a forgotten and dingy part of the city surrounded mostly by poor tenement blocks, I was never sure if that neon sign was being ironic. But there was a whimsy to its placement as well, and I have always had a soft spot for the beauty to be found in small, forgotten corners and encounters.

Still, at the time I found something eerie about that work's glowing neon presence. Now I kind of realise, in a whole new, deeper, more grown-up way, that it was true.

Everything is going to be alright.

10 comments:

  1. I needed this today. Thank you.

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    1. I'm glad if it helped a bit Cristy.

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  2. Oh yes, it will be all right.
    That sign is just awesome , I am glad you took a photo. Is it still there?
    And your description of London, such an authentic, local vibe, makes me want to go there. I am sure there are places like that still, probably somewhere else?
    Wishing and hoping for you (as we start our 6th IUI cycle).

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    1. I love it too, and am so glad I took the photo. Sadly, although the sign still exists, it was taken down from the building in Hackney (which itself has been renewed - a lot's changed there since my student days), and is in a much more conventional space now at the National Gallery of Scotland.

      There are places like that in London if you know where to look - I think this is what I meant in our conversation in a previous post about South Ken being 'cultureless' for me. In contrast to this everyday kind of culture, I find what's on offer in those affluent neighbourhoods to be a bit sterile, a bit limited to rich old white guys. Sure, there are great museums (but those I can visit from across town), and nice frou frou bagel cafes, but if I want really amazing and cheap Vietnamese or Turkish food, or for anything else really, I'll take Hackney any day :)

      And yes, everything WILL be alright. Everything crossed for your next IUI!

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  3. I love this post and the idea of that installment, Sadie."Everything will work out fine" is a mantra that I cling to in good times and hard times.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Catherine, and for your comment! I think, as mantras go, that's about as solid and optimistic and true as any can be. It has definitely seen me through a whole range of experiences.

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  4. I love this post. It feels like it should be published somewhere. So, so well written.

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    1. Aaww, thanks for your sweet words! It was a nice reflection to be able to put to words, and I'm happy if it struck a chord with anyone else.

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