Wednesday, 22 March 2006

Oh lord. I can't believe he thinks he can write fiction. (Part One)

20 things you need to know if ever you find yourself in south London

One. The Battersea Children’s Zoo does not have any children in cages. They roam wild.
Two. We don’t have parks. We have commons. There are twelve in total. North London has marshes, heaths and flats. Commons are much better for meeting people. Sometimes these people get along so well they rush straight off into the bushes to have sex.
Three. No one really speaks in that weird accent, you know, cockney with attitude. We put it on when you’re in town. Jenna speaks a bit like that though. She’s not from round here.
Four. South Londoners can’t count. And we’re not very good at keeping time either.
Five. Ok, we do have parks. But a couple of the bigger ones, Richmond and Greenwich, are royal parks so they don’t count. I was meant to meet Jenna in Greenwich Park last month. On One Tree Hill. Except I was waiting at the top of the wrong hill.
Six. One Tree Hill in Greenwich Park has a lot of trees on it. It’s very confusing. And it makes it hard to see if anyone is there. I never understood why we couldn’t meet at the gate or in a bar. Jenna says I’m unromantic. It’s not true. I was just lost. And late.
Seven. When the World Cup was stolen in 1966 it was found near my grandma’s house. No charges were ever brought against her. I took Jenna to see my grandma. It went horribly wrong. My grandma thought we were engaged. Jenna thought it meant we were getting engaged. I thought I was getting a decent home cooked meal. Turns out we were all wrong.
Eight. I thought our anniversary was on the fifth. That’s why I was a week late giving Jenna her present. It turns out there’s a whole week’s worth of Jenna I am not aware of and will never get back.
Nine. Not many tube lines come south of the river. That’s why Jenna was mad when I wanted her to move in with me. She says my place is hard to get to. She should try the Falkland Islands. She acted as though I asked her to live on the moon. But I like it here. Why should I move?
Ten. I once spoke to god on the 249 bus between Crystal Palace and Balham. It turns out his name is Brian and he works for the local council assessing social security claims. He told me that life is pretty good as long as you compromise. I told him that Jenna wanted me to compromise about where I lived and god replied that I should, “dump the bitch because she knows nothing.” I took it as a sign.
Eleven. There is no Crystal Palace in Crystal Palace anymore. It burned down. If I was a little piggy that would confuse me. “So if I build it with glass the wolf can’t blow it over but he can burn it?” Jenna thinks I spend too much time worrying about whether or not my house is going to be attacked by wild animals.
Twelve. There are tourist attractions on this side of the Thames. The Globe Theatre, Kew Gardens, Tate Modern, the London Eye. But they hug the river so it hardly feels very south. Jenna thinks I should call off my boycott of tourist attractions north of the river. God thought I was being proactive. Jenna says that she is a non-believer and that even if god does exist he’s more likely to have a chauffeur.
Thirteen. South London is the fried chicken capital of Europe. Jenna says Dallas Fried Chicken is an inappropriate venue for eating out despite the fact that they have loads of those little tissues you wipe your fingers with so that they smell of lemon for three minutes.
Fourteen. South Londoners have no patience.
Fifteen. Clapham Junction is the busiest train station in the world ever. I think. It’s also the place where I left Jenna waiting for forty-five minutes. Apparently in that time we missed three trains and a strange man asked her to go water-skiing with him or something like that.
Sixteen. Jenna has been angry with me for some time now.
Seventeen. I miss her.
Eighteen. Are you still here? Ok, twenty was a bit optimistic.
Nineteen. Look, we’re not together anymore. Is that what you wanted to know?
Twenty. I’m not sure that god was right. I’ll tell him when I see him next.


Gata said...

I really enjoyed your South London observations as I always stay with friends in Balham when I come over there. (There are a lot of fried chicken places there. And why do all the good restaurants and shops close on Sunday? I end up defecting to the West End. Sorry.) Perhaps I will write about the borough of Queens sometime.