Thirty Thousand Streets

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sleepless in Camberwell

I couldn't sleep last night. I thrashed around in my sheets, restlessly turning my pillow to the cool side, and flipping my duvet. Every forty minutes or so I would switch on the light and read another few pages of Cormac McCarthy's 'Cities of The Plain'.

It was impossible. I felt restless and couldn't get comfortable, and even though the linen was clean the bed seemd to itch against my back. At around half three I gave up, and got up, and pulling on some jeans and a hoody, went out for a walk.

Camberwell seemed impossibly quiet. The only other people I could see were two of the guys from Morley's Fried Chicken pulling down the shutters, accompanied by the whoosh of the odd lonely car. It was cold. Birds were tweeting. It felt like I'd got up to go on holiday somewhere.. I hadn't.

I stumbled up Camberwell Church Street, crossing by the green to head up Denmark Hill. Bolu Kebab was open, as was the Golden Grill – slowly rotating pillars of sweating meat being a twenty-four hour commodity. I looked through the windows as I passed. If I'd thought about it, I might have found the the sight of my fellow travellers purchasing chilli-soused grey flesh oddly comforting, but I felt a bit too vacant for that. I stared in at their faces, hollow in the artificial light.

I walked up past the hospital by Ruskin Park, the turned left by the Salvation Army headquarters. I passed a few people. At the end I turned left again, and headed down Grove Lane. Half way down, two guys walking up, slowly, going nowhere. One drifted to the centre of the road as I passed:

"Hey mate, got a minute? come over here yeah?"

I glanced back, without breaking my stride:

"Nah mate I'm going home" I said

And I was. The last I saw of him was staring ambiguously after me in the streetlight, as his friend trudged away beyond him.

I got back in ten minutes later, shucked off my crumpled attire and collapsed into bed. A sleep, or semblance thereof, came after half an hour or so.


Peter Gasston said...

A half-hearted potential mugging?

The Eyechild said...

Who knows.. whether they were up to any mischief or not is a moot point, but they were certainly up to no 'good' ambling round at ten to four in the morning (but then again, was I?)

One thing though, whenever I suspect I'm going to be accosted for money, I try and keep any exchange to the bare minimum, and avoid entanglements. Look but don't stop (don't even look sometimes) speak but don't talk, that's the London way, eh?.

Zeno Cosini said...

It was me, enfant de l'oeil! I was the guy in Camberwell last night. I was a bit cheesed off you didn't seem to recognise me,to be honest. I was going to ask you if you wanted to come for a kebab. You must have been well out of it.

gridrunner said...

Maybe he wanted to hug a hoody.

sigh9 said...

I know we've been over all this before but...

The Eyechild said...

ZC: You must have blacked up then dude.. and I NEVER eat after two in the morning anyway.

G Unit: Hug or MUG. One of the two.

Sigh9: The most failsafe way I've found is drinking yourself unconscious.. though it's got obvious drawbacks.

Little Nutbrown Hare said...

Get a sleep machine from John Bell & Croydon (Croyden?). Works for me everytime.

The Eyechild said...

Sleep machine.. sounds intriguing.. I'll check it out.