11
Aug 04

The only living American boy in New Cross (not necessarily true)

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The only living American boy in New Cross (not necessarily true) — as I mentioned yesterday, I had reason to be in New Cross for two of my London trips, and while I can’t say I got to know the entire area or anything like that, for me, for a while, it was what I considered to be home away from home when I came. And of course me being me the only thing I had ever heard about it was That Carter USM Song, which is not only one of their best efforts but helped provide part of the spectacular ending to Tom’s pre-wedding FAP, so nyah to those who would complain. But I digress.

I remember that there are two New Cross stations, and the one I was familiar with had a bridge over the tracks that I then crossed, walking up a short distance to then cross the street and pass by a pub. It seemed to be popular enough for the area, fairly roomy and had a chalk sign indicating who was playing what on whichever night was upcoming — never had cause to poke my nose in there, but it might have been fun.

The walk would continue up a slightly curving and longish road, past a row of houses for the most part, but I remember one more open driveway and some overgrown patches of weed and sod near the top of the road where it curved slightly. It was a bit of a haul traipsing up there with my luggage, as it was definitely uphill and all, but it could be managed. I recall seeing somebody, maybe a couple, in the process of moving out one of the times I passed by.

At the top of the curved rise I would cross the street again (or not, I could just as easily cross later) and then turn left and go down a slightly sharper descent along a main road, the one that if you head west eventually takes you past Goldsmiths College, if I recall correctly (I might not — I know that somewhere down there was a Sainsbury’s as well, way down the way). But I was heading east, and I remember that walking down that block took me to an intersection that I always rather enjoyed, as that’s where my then-girlfriend’s flat was.

It wasn’t distinct in and of itself, perhaps — maybe it was a little dangerous (I recall being worried terribly when she mentioned the murder that had occurred around the corner one day). But actually aside from that unfortunate incident it felt like, well, a neighborhood, and a modern English one at that — the majority of businesses (hair salons, chicken takeaways, the corner stores, more besides) were run by folks of Jamaican descent, which also described most of the customers. There were billboards and signs all over the place — I remember one of A. Kornikouva, at the height of her diaphanous ‘she doesn’t actually win anything does she?’ fame. Everything felt very lived in, comfortable — maybe those there would assume something far differently, and I could have easily been overlooking something in my ‘oh, is that also going on?’ mind.

All the exact details are a bit of a smear in my mind now, I never took any pictures to my knowledge, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be back to see that particular intersection again. But personal memories define and describe that neck of the woods for me, and why my London visions inevitably conjure up the location of a basement flat in New Cross.

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