Thoughts. Ramblings. Heavy-hipped. Mango-obsessed.

Come. Come see.

I watched a film documentary on Channel 4 a few weeks ago: about people who chose to end their lives by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Unfortunately, it's apparently a frequent occurrence. In 2004, 24 people fell to their deaths. As I read through the names of the 24 in the end credits, I noticed that most were men.

Of the film, one person sticks in my mind: a man in a leather jacket, his long dark hair blowing in the wind, smoking a cigarette, walking up and down the bridge. If I'd been on that bridge same time as him, what would I have said to him? How would I have sold life to him?

I was at the Royal London hospital a short while back and there was this man who started talking to me. He was drunk. Within 5 minutes, he'd told me his life story: his ex wife, where they got married, his 2 beautiful daughters whom he hadn't seen in years, their names, their ages, his sexuality, his boyfriend. He'd even been a martial arts practitioner for 20 years. His eyes were so sad. Deeply. He'd tried committing suicide before by jumping off a bridge. He said he needed help which was why he’d come to the hospital.

I can't remember what I said to him. I didn't say much. I listened.

Who knows if he was telling the truth; he could have been a pathological liar or schizophrenic. But what I saw in his eyes was no lie.

The doctor called out his name.

I happened to be in the cubicle next to him. The doctor asked him how he was: his reply was he planned on committing suicide by Xmas and that he felt like killing himself and everyone around him.

I hope the doctor listened. Really listened.

On the Channel 4 docufilm, a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge was shown from afar and it looked really beautiful. It must be quite high 'cos I could see a rainbow beneath it. I also saw the glow of the sunlight and greenery on the landscape. I remember seeing the bridge from that angle and wishing I could tell the guy with the long dark hair: come, come see.

3.09 am...

The prostitutes walk the streets like zombies looking for their next feed. I feel a mixture of anger, curiosity, amazement, sadness, irritation and pity for them. I can't begin to tell you the things I've seen over the past year and I'm just a bystander – just seeing glimpses of what they do. The whole picture must be much darker than that.

I had a dream the other night. For some reason, I dismantled my front door. I couldn't put it back together no matter how much I tried. I then looked out onto a roof which seemed to be on the same floor. It was like one of those roofs you see in New York. Suddenly, I noticed movement and three prostitutes came out from makeshift camps they'd set up. They'd been sleeping there. Weeks before that, I had a dream they were living in my block's basement – a basement that I didn't know existed. There were loads of rooms – as if someone had built a hideout for them.

I've been looking into the history of where I live as I want to find out why prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse are rife in this area. There must be an historical energy about this place that’s feeding the now.

If you're an early sleeper, a heavy sleeper or sleep with your windows shut, then you won't notice a thing. I know this because one of my neighbours didn't have a clue what was going on on her doorstep. During the day, the air flows freely and people generally go about their business. But at night, it shifts. It's still possible not to notice, but once you see one thing, you notice the rest.

Sometimes, the nights spill into the days and some prostitutes stand out there from 6.45pm 'til 7am and approach people going to work. Now that winter's here, it's likely they'll make the most of the extra dark hours it brings. A friend of mine who I recently bumped into and who lives in the same area as me told me that weeks ago he was propositioned by a prostitute at 10 in the morning.

In some ways, believe it or not, things have improved. The police appear to be stepping up, catching and charging some kerb crawlers, patrolling the area, etc. But it's kinda on and off. They don't seem to patrol late enough or frequently enough. Like rats, when the police disappear, the prostitutes and their watchers come out.

The area might get a total breather in the time leading up to the Olympics as there's apparently talk of money being pumped in to do a clean-up. I'm not sure how true that is, but if so, it would seem someone's got their priorities slightly wrong. It shouldn't take the Olympics to do a thorough job of something they should be doing anyway.

I was thinking of moving but I love my flat and in spite of what's been going on, there are good people living here. I hear the cutest little girl every couple of days. And there's a boy with a mop of red hair who sometimes rides his little scooter down the road, secure in the knowledge that his mummy's right behind him. I don't like dogs but I see two beautiful ones walked by their owners every evening. I see a fox every now and then. People still stop and say hello to each other. There's an old woman I say hello to – she reminds me of my mum. The other day, I complimented an old Eastern European woman on her hat and she reached out and held my hand as she pushed her trolley. Her hand was plump and soft. She let go and we walked and talked 'til I got to my flat. There's a nutty woman who seems to have a fondness for me - I find her enthusiasm really overwhelming at times, but her heart's in the right place. I love my shopkeeper. And though we all tend to keep to ourselves, most of my neighbours are quite friendly.

I like where I live. But I don't like what's happening to it.

Sometimes the sun deliberately sets where I can get a good look at it from my back window. The clouds don't need to join in either, but they do.

From Bad to Worse…

img credit: dcJohn
The prostitution in my area has actually gotten much much worse. It's reached the point where one of my neighbours is moving out.

I can't go into much detail for now as I'm pissed off and a bit upset. What I do know is that it's reached a whole new level. I feel disempowered because I feel enough isn't being done about it even though I and some of my neighbours have constantly complained about it to the police, the neighbourhood ward and our housing association. It's one thing for the prostitution, the pimping and the drug dealing associated with it to happen - it's another to watch it fester because the people who can do something about it don't appear to be putting 100% into it.

After a while, I knew that it would take someone getting physically hurt for the police to step in and that's, unfortunately, what happened at 7.30 this morning.

I love my flat, but today's the first time I've actually thought about moving. But then, why should I be the one to move?

Made myself a cup of herbal. Need to shake off the morning I woke up to.

Just Seen a Prostitute Giving Someone Head...

Unfortunately, we have quite a few prostitutes in my area (and most of them are drug dependent, I suspect, 'cos a lot of them don't look well AT ALL). The level of activity wasn't that noticeable to start with, but over the past few years, especially this year, it's gotten particularly bad.

They usually use our communal car park. You hear a car parking around 1, 2, 3, 4am. Then they look for a couple of blind spots to do their business.

Tonight, they weren't really hiding. If anyone else had looked out the window (like I had), they would have seen A LOT. It's one thing to use the space, a space that you have no right to use - it's quite another to not care if anyone sees you while you're at it.

Tonight, I couldn't take it. I opened my window and told them they ain't doing that in my backyard, to which they scuttled off.

Then, when I closed my window, I heard voices IN THE BUILDING. I opened the door and a couple of prostitutes were sitting on the steps smoking. I said "excuse me, could you leave please?" to which they did. I don't know why I sounded so damn polite but that's what literally came out.

I remember the look on one of their faces. She looked so young. Nothing like the rest of them. Healthy. Like she was new to it.

I closed the communal door after them - making sure it was really shut (which is part of the problem, you see, because the door closes sometimes but doesn't shut and I think they've cottoned onto that).

As I went back up, I saw a piece of tissue on the floor. It was a bit bloody.


That's what I get for being a night owl.

I spoke to the police about the problem some time ago. They said they had wardens who patrol the area 'til 2am or so. WELL, THAT'S NOT BLOODY GONNA HELP, IS IT - not if the real activity happens around that time and continues through the night.

I KNOW the police see them on the streets because I've seen them drive past without so much as slowing down.

I don't think the solution is to clear the prostitutes off - as much as I'd rather not have them in my area, they'll just reappear in another part of town if they're moved on - and the inherent problems won't really have been dealt with.

But something has to be done.

What the Night Sky and I Saw...

img credit: Solar ikon
I'm a real late sleeper.

Late last night, around 2am, I heard some voices behind my building. I looked out and saw 2 men holding a man down. I initially thought it might be plain-clothes policemen but it didn't take long for me to ascertain that it wasn't. The 2 men looked like they were trying to take something off him and he was really trying to stop them from doing that.

I called 999.

They were hitting him in the face.

I was trying to explain to the operator what was going on. And I don’t think I was doing a good job of it.

Eventually, one man left.

The other followed.

And the man on the floor stayed there for a while.

He was conscious.

I could see that he was.

A woman approached him – she was on the phone – and said something to him. I imagined – or hoped - that she was asking him if he was ok.

She walked away.

He stayed. On the floor.

The operator asked me if he looked like he needed an ambulance.

I didn't know. Couldn’t tell.

I opened the window and asked him.

He said no, got up and walked away.

The operator asked me what the men looked like. To describe them.

I said one was black …one was white. And the other, I couldn't remember.

I felt stupid.

I closed my eyes and tried to remember more. "He had on a black jacket" "I think" "His hair was short"

"How short?", the operator asked me.

"Short", I said.

"What did the woman look like?"

I told her what I could remember. Which was little.

She thanked me for the call.

I could see two wet patches on the ground where the fracas had taken place. Wasn't sure if it was blood but I suspect it was.

Later on, during the day, I looked out my window. And sure enough, it was.

As I walked down the road, on a white boarded-up area close to where I live, I noticed 5 thick lines of bloody prints that his fingers had left.

I could see small drops of blood on the pavement – trailing along every now and then like bread crumbs.

A week ago, someone sprayed 'Free Palestine' in blue on the other side of the same white board and the following day, it had been removed as quickly as it had appeared.

I wonder how long the bloody prints will stay there.

The Little People Down the Drainpipe...

img credit: aeruginosa
the little people down the drainpipe
Sometimes, when I'm doing the washing up, I imagine there's a family of teeny-tiny people that live at the end of the drain pipe...

...a community even...

...and that whatever escapes down the sink will feed them, sustain them.

So when I'm washing the rice and some of the grains go down the hole, I'm there thinking 'yes, I'm doing my bit for charity'.

Bits of sweetcorn, bits of fresh meat from when I'm giving the chicken a good rinse, water drained from the can of kidney beans and tuna, the coffee/tea I didn't quite finish.

When I run the tap, I imagine said little people have some kind of medieval but highly-efficient mechanism that separates the hot from the cold water and preserves it at said temperature.

I apologise to said little people for my washing machine. For every time I turn it on, it smells out the place when it reaches a particular point in its wash cycle. It can't be that pleasant for them at their end.

I'd try pouring some bleach down the drain to stop what I now call 'washing-machine farts', but I fear for the safety of my little friends. I don't think they could cope. And even if they could, what if they crawled their little butts up the drain in anger and tried to kill me in a Gulliver's Travels stylee?

Not good.