Across the road they huddle together. A sea of hoodies paints my urban landscape in dark greys, navy blues and blacks. Splashed all over the front of their tops are famous brands that pay the hoodies nothing for promoting their products. The luminous sign advertising yet another link in the ubiquitous KFC chain is their meeting place, market, Freud's reclining couch and work experience office. I lean against a lamppost whilst waiting for the bus. A couple of bikes with no brakes are ridden, their front wheels are raised and daredevil acts are performed on them. In the middle of the road. A gaggle of laughs elicits from the group and travels steadily and slowly through the evening air, stopping oncoming pedestrians on the spot, making them do a double-take and finally persuading them to cross the street subtly. Ever so subtly. Nobody wants to venture through the sea of hoodies, but nobody wants to be seen avoiding them either.
this is SE15, E8 or N17. It would be different if it were N10. Then the hoodies
would not be up, covering the mainly black heads fully, like urban hijabs of
the night, but down, with their owners feeling part of the hoodie fraternity
without sharing its stigma.
cool breeze mentioned earlier today on the BBC’s morning weather forecast makes its
presence known. The last of the languid rays of the autumn sun dies behind one
of the high-rises. The wind suddenly picks up. I spot my bus. As I put my own Chelsea hoodie
up and adjust it in a way that it only covers my head up to my hairline, I see
out of the corner of my eye a woman take two steps to her left away from me. Just before the
bus pulls over and blocks my view I look at the clowder of feline-like figures across the road. And
not for the first time I feel some sympathy for them, even if sometimes I am
one of those avoiding them, subtly.
Next Post: “Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music”, to be published on
Sunday 16th November at 10am (GMT)