A stream-of-consciousness tribute by Kim Williams
All forms of life pass by my window. The street-cool kids heading for a trendy ‘blitz’-feel night-out with the likes of Princess Julia – who I often see tottering past. The ‘crusty’ man and his dog who sit outside Tesco Metro asking for spare change. The hordes as they walk to Victoria Park for a summer festival to be repeatedly rained upon. The cyclists in Critical Mass as they pass by on a Friday night. Mums with small kids heading to the City Farm with excited or crying toddlers.
On Sundays you can’t get a parking space to save your life as the Flower market in Columbia Road gets packed full of foliage-carrying folks. Street artists love my front door, and deposit small pieces of art that are only a step away from sticker ‘flyering’. Periodically gangs of boys fight with each other as Hackney Road seems to be their border line between one tower black and another; kids, grow up! Their antics always make me want to play the West Side Story film score. Hoxton Overground has confirmed that Hackney Road is on the map, and through a small gap in the buildings opposite I can see them coming and going from my roof terrace. I can also see the Bingo in the other direction but it doesn’t interest me.
Every Bonfire night the East London Chapter Hell’s Angel, who’s club house is opposite, host a firework display that would rival any at the Ally Pally. And what about the amazing day they buried a fallen Angel and 2,000 bikes filled up Hackney Road with noise, fumes and spectacle?
More than once I have a seen a horse-drawn hearse pass by my window; the police trot by with regularity too. Every ‘flavour’ is available on Hackney Road – the gay Carpenters Arms, Indian take-aways, Oriental supermarkets, tattoo parlours, the Old Axe strip joint and more handbags than Victoria Beckham could fathom. If I walk out my front door with my hand held high – a black Hackney carriage will stop almost immediately. This is their main thoroughfare from Essex, where they all live. Games of cricket or rounders fill me with delight as I watch the kids on the grass opposite; they make me recall my own childhood. Once, a bus was used to carry a failed terrorist bomb. The result? A day-long empty road. ‘Twas on a lovely sunny day too.
The wonderful pungent smell of leather from my neighbour below, a master craftsman. Artists and artisans tucked away everywhere along this road. The Premises rehearsal studios and cafe/bistro, where I once saw Charlotte Church eating a plate of chips. In the summer, when all the windows are open you can hear her repetitive rehearsals. Double Decker buses that stop at the zebra crossing whilst the people on the top deck watch me drinking wine on my terrace. As the folks walk past my place some wave at me as I water my plants. I love Shoreditch. Although my Shoreditch is Hackney Road.
For me, Hackney Road means shouting! Day and night they shout. When manoeuvring a HGV goods lorry, the arguments of lovers, the calling for a loose dog, the name calling of kids, the happy sound of folks saying hello or in drunken revelry. Arguments spill out onto the pavement at the British Lion pub. Pedestrians shout at cars from the zebra crossing as they come around the corner too fast. Cyclists and cars shout at each other. Folks shout hello and goodbye.
I’d like to have the last shout…a big shout out for Shoreditch – woo hoo!
For the past 16 years, Kim has run Club Rub, a fetish club in North London, though she works from her home in Hackney Road. As well, Kim is also a club promoter, and proud Shoreditch resident, having lived in the area for over 15 years.