I said goodbye to Faraday Road.
An unlikely sojourn in my life, in London’s east end
And pure utility. I’d visited once in 10 years.
It’s London lolly gave me the recourse to live up here in Suffolk.
I recall being annoyed sometimes when I had to attend
To repair something broken. Barry helped sort it.
Barry. From Wandstead flats post war, his family
were re-settled here in purpose built council flats
two up two down and loo. The bath is still
the one he used as a child.
After his first million, under the free market Right to Buy
of Thatcher, he bought it from Newham Council.
I bought it for his mother father . They died here.
He rented it out, extra cash.
Until he needed some cash, when I was cash rich
and in a dithering menopausal sojourn in my life said yes.
We did a deal, of course, some under the table.
The 2nd time I saw the place – empty now – when MJ came down
To renovate to sell. Unaccustomed to keys, I left them in the front door lock
the downstairs neighbour saw, took them in.
Over a menthol tailor made cigarette, (she offered) I thanked her
so we exchanged. She’d seen life there, 15 years, the girls on the steps
waiting for the dealer, just out from inside for 2 years.
They’re buying them back, she said to me, the council she meant.
Corona Virus 4 months later, we exchanged, Newham Council and I
‘Your windows been open’, she came out to tell me. Is your carpet ok?
‘I’m glad for you’ she said, ‘you’ve done well with that.
We smoked a tailor made menthol cigarette (hers) on the steps
2012 to 2020. Did I ever see the upstairs bathroom? The same as Barry bathed in 70 years ago. Upstairs where Barry would get dressed up on his drapes. Dave waiting downstairs with the mum and dad. Always waiting for Barry.
‘Its not as bad as I expected’ said MJ. Six days MJ worked, painting all, even the embossed wall paper, the chipped wood work, knocked down a cupboard, balanced on steps and a plank to reach the ceiling. She worked into the night, and even slept there.
‘I’ve been here 15 years, Dianne, the neighbour said. It’s got much worse. I’ve seen the changes. Shooting up outside the front door, shouting all night. My flat had been firebombed twice! Had been lived in by a prostitute and dealer, years later I kept getting knocked up looking for service”