Thirty Thousand Streets

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Smell is the most evocative of all the senses, I think. The one most likely to conure up a particular memory, a sensation of time, of place.

The place I used to work in Manchester was on Richmond Street, parallel to Canal Street. A few doors up from us there was the back of a restaurant called Velvet, and from a fan here issued cooking fumes from the kitchen. It always smelt like barbecued meat, and it was odd how when walking past, even in the depths of winter, I'd be transported, momentarily, to my mum and dad's patio in some unspecified summer.

A similar thing happened today. As I walked up Camberwell Church Street, the sun peeked fleetingly from between the clouds, and just then, I caught a whiff of chips cooking from the open doors of The Hermits Cave. For a moment, I was walking down the street in Kavos with Ade and Dunc in 2005, where the aroma of fried breakfast vied for your attention with the roar of mopeds, piloted by lobster-red lads with buzz-cuts.

It's been happening quite a lot recently. The merest thing sets it off. The faint pong of seafood at the Chinese Supermarket, the smell of cigarette smoke chiming with a spoon's clink on a cup, and I'm elsewhere – usually it must be said, somewhere sunnier and drier. Recently I've been feeling very nostalgic for other times and places, and feeling pretty restless in general of late. Another week in work, then I have a weeks holiday in Barcelona. I can't wait. After that? who knows. I think I need to shake up my life. Do some different things. Change is important I feel.

It's been a quiet weekend. Went for a meeting on Saturday morning about some design work for a charity festival. Unpaid gig, though I'll probably get tickets for the events, and fingers crossed, some creative fulfillment. I wandered across town afterwards, over to the city, where a road was closed to film a car chase sequence for National Treasure 2.

Last night was pretty quiet. Went for a few drinks with Ade at the Sun and Doves, to be joined later by Rachael. The Sun and Doves is one of the few bars I've ever been to that manage to curate art exhibitions effectively (most places don't seem to have a clue) and they've had some excellent paintings by an artist Called Jo Lewis for the last month (though I see the exhibition ends today).

They're watercolours, washed by the ebb and flow of the Thames to introduce an element of chaos: spinning drips of paint into bruise-like nebulae of colour. The combination of errant stuttery line and soft clouds of colour reminded me of Gerald Scarfe and Futura 2000 in equal measure. Excellent.

Work tomorrow. Yawn. I know I'm going on about it a bit but this weather sucks hard.. right now if feels like all of London is trapped beneath a wet duvet.. all warm and stale.

Here's hoping Barcelona keeps warm and dry for me.

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