A walk to Crystal Palace

I’ve not posted in a while, save to pointlessly repost communist columns. I can’t really explain why: blogging is a habit, like heroin addiction or being a nun. I fell out of it, but like Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act 2, I’m back.

The reason I’ve returned is over a third of a year has passed without much to write home about. It’s almost like I’ve been in stasis. In this time I’ve been to both Istanbul and Madrid, but I’ve also been very depressed and because of this I have been moving around in a fog, a cloud; a poorly fitted virtual reality headset from the 1990s, which didn’t make you sick like the current models but just wasn’t very convincing.

Life simply hasn’t been very convincing to me lately. But by scooting back over some old blog posts, I remember the things the past me did, and am happy at the existence of his thoughts and adventures. So present me is doing this as a service to the many future mes that will presumably exist.

(It turns out Whoopi Goldberg was once a junkie, making the end of that first para work better than expected.)

Yesterday I was sad because I’d wasted almost an entire Sunday. I saw the first bit of it – the sun burning up over the sleeping hills of South London – but had wasted much of the rest, tending to my imaginary self on a nintendo app (miitomo is not very good, but at least the me trapped behind the screen is dressed as a goth Lolita) and playing video games in an automated kind of way. I could feel Monday morning creeping up on me, and so left the house, picked the direction with the least immediate threat of traffic, and started walking.

I headed up Streatham Common, past a mentally ill man who harangued me using cultural reference points I didn’t understand. Above me, with an hour til dusk, the sky was magnificently blue, save for one, impossibly enormous cloud. They were like the ones the alien ships cunningly hid behind in Independence Day and, who knows, Independence Day 2.


I headed up the line of trees to the right of the common, past dog walkers, young asian kids playing unsuccessful badminton in the middle of the path as their father smiled apologetically, and a young couple having take-away in their car, parked, so it seemed, to enjoy the impending sunset. I was now high enough to catch the final sunlight of the evening, and my shadow was doing strange and unsettling things to the grass and the trees.

I found myself in the grounds of Norwood Grove, a Grade II listed mansion. Nearby, but long gone, was a villa where Queen Victoria stayed to take the waters at Streatham spa. It seems strange to consider that Streatham was once a resort. I walked through the grounds, met a small dog, and took in the view over Croydon and the South Downs beyond.

From here, I lost the capital ring signs, but had a nice time enjoying the approaching dusk as I walked through deserted suburban streets. I felt wonderful familiarity in these unfamiliar residential thoroughfares: I spent a lot of my teens and twenties walking the suburbs, hearing DIY and family arguments emanating from semi-detached houses, luxuriating in the reassurance of life going on as normal.

I spotted the crystal palace radio tower, and followed it until I was standing at its base. On the way, I was lured by the false siren of a rival (but considerably shorter) tower. I walked up a muddy bank as I listened to a radio show about America, and looked up at my false metal God. But the real thing was only a mile away.


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