Clarity is hard to come by from a London point of view. If you’re from here, you are here, very hard to get perspective from that deep buried position. But anyway, this city is my home, as it is for a lot of others. It’s not a lifestyle we choose or an experience to be had, it’s what we wake up to every day. It’s friends and family, those experiences we’d rather forget and those we revel in. It’s hard to reconcile that with all the people to whom this city is an adventure, a lifestyle choice, a test of themselves or whatever.

Y’see we, as native Londoners, get split. On the one hand we have our home, which we know to be a magical, wondrous place, just as everyone says it is. But on the other it’s ours, it’s familiar, no more special than Kent or Norwich or Leeds is to you. And as the fight for the soul of the place grows harder, as gentrification and civlization drives us out in favour of someone elses dream, we have a hard time connecting that. Because our home is the place where we go down the shop, drink in the shitty pub, get by in the flat we can afford. Why is it so special as to need stealing from us? It’s just home, right? But of course it isn’t. It’s a warzone.

One where I’ve heard people say ‘be nice, don’t be intolerant of change’ and ‘fuck change, kill them all’. And that’s a question Londoners face. I’m not including some struggling Somali refugee or desperate seeker for a safe life and a safe home. Nor the people who come to build a life as they are, rather than demanding a new image in the city of who they want to be. I’m talking about the immigrants to London who are making a vain choice, those coming from the home counties, or the EU, or the US, the ones who want a lifestyle. Why should we give that to you? This city is a product of the people who live here, not the money you can wield to buy a bespoke experience.

At a certain point we need to choose how far we’ll go to defend that. Foxtons in Brixton had their windows bricked three times in the last year – good, to be honest. I don’t like a lot of the incomers to London but I’m indifferent to even more of them. Right now though, right here, it’s a conflict of my home vs your dream. And to be quite honest I don’t give a fuck if you feel scared or uncomfortable in this city. If you feel excluded by hostile locals or sneering jibes at your little purchased islands of ‘culture’. You should. Because the people selling it to you don’t give a fuck about the effects of their actions. We do. And we need you to check yourself before you start saying things about ‘Nunhead Village’ or gentrifying Lewisham. It’s our home after all. Maybe not always as magical or beautiful a place as was advertised to you, but still.

London has always been here for those who need to build a life but why should it be here for those who just have enough money to play at one?


The Weight of History

The frozen parade of granite faces stared down at them, though those observed seldom stared back up. There was no need, no benefit in acknowledging the immovable presence of the past. If anything it was a self-imposed torture to try, an opening up to acidic intrusions on lives lived in rough and tender skin. The past had left the stone faces. Stern monoliths in vaguely human form engraved into an inhuman surface. A cryptic message or judgement or warning, hewn from the cliff face by hands whose owners, certain as they may have been in their work, had left no clues to inform the uninitiated of its purpose.

It made the faces both impossible to ignore and hard to care about. Especially as the immediacy of life lay at eye level. Readily demanding without the need to crane necks in search of mystic incomprehension.

And it was as the stolidly current humans faced all that was on their level that the past decided to collapse on them. A plethora of faces were scattered by tremors forcing their way out from even deeper in the rock of the landscape than they were. All sent gurning, screaming and roaring down from the cliff side to smash into the present. Rolling to staring halts before half-hearted observers, suddenly forced out of their once all consuming time and place and knocked into confusion by the past’s sudden invasion. Long neglected granite eyes now laughing, scorning and longing for the descendants of their creators.

No one died. Not through the avalanche of rocks at least. But life was left bruised and rattled by the ominous collapse. Through uncertainty questions proliferated, through discomfort they went unanswered. Was some distant point buried beneath their own ancestry angry at their habitually averted eyes? Disappointed at the level stares of lives lived solely in the present? Even enraged at what they’d seen through inert irises during their long and silent observance? Even now the faces blockaded and punctuated the movement of the living they gave nothing away but their presence.

People drifted away after that. Shying away from their ignorance to the wants and desires of their oppressive inheritance. Whatever the past was, whatever it wanted, they could find no way to serve it.

Inertia is all
an absolute for fleeting drama to play against
Trees forming on tired rock
people walking on tired land
novelties to impress the unimpressable inert

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Feast of Humanity

The creature we all feed on
feeds on us in return
turning poisoned teeth of humans
into emotional concerns
not always loving missives
not always hate filled curse
but a necessary living
to complete the human verse

But the feeding turns to cruelty
when we clamp down to the bone
covering with greed’s laughter
the slowly dying moans

And if the feast continues
‘til gluttony is done
we have an empty carcass
a vision of what will come

So feed and gorge and satiate
your human needs and wants
but leave the breathing being
to which we all belong

Featured image by Ashish Das.

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Bring the Future

Bring a hundred thousand people
bring a hundred thousand more
bring the armies of the faithful
bring the legions of the poor
bring all of those belonging
and the ones who are left out

Bring the children of tomorrow
and those aged with crushing doubt
bring all of the resistance
to the cruelty of the few
but start with that one humble voice
the one that comes from you

Featured image by Guilherme Kramer.

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Rat Run

What do you call this future? The one at the end of the rat run you’ve built out of today and into tomorrow? The one we can see as a pin-prick at the end of the tunnel, a pin-prick of grey light and confinement. Why do you want us to go there? Really, why? What motivates you to shepherd us with threats, prods and promises of milk and honey which sound bitter even as you speak them? We’re still playing in yesterday’s rubbish after all. Our attentions are all hooked on sun faded Tango cans and empty crisp wrappers we left as a legacy from our childhood to remind us of the way home. Maps formed of artifacts from our own antiquity which we’re more than happy to struggle to decipher because at least we know the juvenile cartographers drew those lines without guile or malice.

Why should we, why would we dash into a clean and compressed passage which leads to nothing more than sterile light and a dream you can’t explain? A dream where all the rest has been swept away?

How are you going to make us?

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Author Dylan Orchard’s Site