I’m supposed to be writing my MA dissertation, but I can’t. I’m wondering what the hell happened to my WordPress interface…
A bit of fanangling and it’s better. But still eh.
I’ve not been writing much since I moved to London. I feel in many ways as if I’ve lost the spark to do so, drowned it in the Thames or the rain or the overwhelming desire to drink a beer that thinking about how much money I owe for a rather useless degree brings on.
I want to capture what my life is for posterity. It sounds stupid. Vain. Recently, I spent ages on the internet trying to find out who lived in our Victorian terraced house when the Great War broke out 100 years ago this month. I found them, a whole family of emigrated Scots by the name of Kenzie. A son who was 22 when the war began. A daughter who was 24. Surely, surely, the war touched them closely. In Dagenham last year, we found the gravestone of two grandparents who required a living and grateful remembrance of six grandsons who fell in the Great War.
Six grandsons who fell. A generation lost.
I’m of a somewhat lost generation, too…though not through war and machine guns and chlorine. I graduated in 2010, in the midst of the worst economic climate since the Great Depression. I’ve travelled the world. My life is so much better than my ancestors could’ve imagined…but we are still in a transitional economy. I’m still working for less than £7 per hour while I finish a £30,000 degree. I’m still living in a house with eight people and a single toilet. I’m still spending what money I have on practically two things only: rent and food.
I’ve been watching the Great War Diaries, a series on the BBC that puts the words of those who lived through that Great War in action. It’s haunting. I still feel a thrill of terror whenever I hear bells ringing wildly like in the opening scenes.
I want people to hear my voice in 100 years, for my descendants to hear my stories and my world. But I’m not on the Western Front. I’m not in Armenia. I’m sitting around in my room all day, every day. The details of life are strange.
A pack of Mayfair cigarettes in the gutter of East London. The DLR’s aching grind while a couple from Texas break the code of silence on the city’s transport. A pack of venison delivered from the butcher, cheaper than beef of the same weight but with the warning “MAY CONTAIN LEAD SHOT” on it, almost an apology. The droning of the night bus along the periphery of Hackney Marshes at 4AM.
I am 26 in 2014. I’m a student and a bar maid. I live in the converted front room of a Victorian house in East London with my fiancé and our small collection of material possessions. I read about the world every day, in the form of stories about Gaza and Ukraine and Ferguson…and the many Spanish, French, and Italian-language news I read since I studied and lived abroad.
We eat well. I get one craft beer each shift at the Brewdog bar I work in, and have one or three more in the shift includes idiots wanting Auchentoshan as a shot. I wear old clothes with holes in them, because I don’t want to buy into the global system that weaves blood into the very threads we carry on us. I can’t escape it, of course. Try as I might. So I am trying to stop buying any clothes at all.
And this is my London. I want to photograph it in a different way. Show a different side. What I live in. Not necessarily the big gleaming tourist capital. This is the first in a series of posts about my London, and my life here. I hope to continue once I finish my dissertation.