I walked home from work today, and as I did so I passed through a part of town that I haven't been through in a long while. I lived there for several years, mainly while I was at college. Perhaps inevitably, it threw up a number of memories.
Here are a few of those memories: I read an article once in which the writer started every paragraph with "I remember...". It was irritating when I first read it, and took some getting used to. Now, I've grown to like it and it seems to suit these recollections. So:
I remember feeling a little perturbed to find out that there'd been some kind of mini-riot in the area a few weeks before I moved in. I'd moved there after a huge argument with my previous landlady, after living on what was apparently one of the most deprived housing estates in Europe, and I wondered if this was a case of "out of the frying pan.." Soon after moving in I was watching the news with a friend and one of the big stories was of a major police operation, I think they were doing drugs raids. I'd remembered hearing lots of sirens early that morning: so that was why the streets on the television footage looked familiar...
I remember one road being a hangout for the drugs dealers, I couldn't walk down there without being accosted: regardless of my then-straggly-haired appearance, I really wasn't into anything stronger than alcohol. The dealers used to scare the hell out of me til I got used to it. Though there were very occasional exceptions, if you didn't hang around or try and cause trouble, you didn't get any trouble in return. I remember one dealer coming up and walking next to me:
Dealer: What you saying?
Dealer: Why not?
Me: Nothing much to say really.
Dealer: You want something?
Me: Yes, I've come down to get fish and chips.
Dealer: Don't go to that one then, the chip shop round the corner's much better.
Me: Thanks, I'll give it a try.
I remember a different occasion where I was coming out of the chip shop and a guy who had an iron bar started giving me some verbal abuse and waving the bar. Without thinking I blurted out my standard response to the dealers, which was "No thanks," and which confused the hell out of him so I just carried on walking home.
I remember a loud knock at the door one day, and three rather intimidating-looking men standing staring at me. Before I had the chance to say anything one of the men looked me straight in the eye and uttered the word "Dosh." Oh shit, I thought, is there some kind of protection racket going on now?
I was staring blankly at him, and he said it again. "Dosh!" I wondered how I was going to get out of this one. I decided to play for time, feeling very nervous since all three men were staring at me, unsmiling. "Dosh?" I asked, shaking my head slightly and frowning.
"Yes, is he in?"
I was completely thrown now. Is who in, I wondered aloud. "Dosh! He does live here doesn't he?"
I couldn't believe it, here was me expecting some attempt at extortion: it finally became clear that they had a mate called Dosh who, as it turned out, lived a couple of doors down the road.
I remember a friend of mine getting mugged in the most passive way possible. On the street with all the dealers, someone beckoned to him to cross the road. So my friend crossed the road, and got mugged.
I remember a guy who took a lot of drugs, who had come to visit one of my housemates. Our cat had gone into the kitchen and helped itself to some mushy peas which were left on a plate. When it ran back into the living room this guy freaked out, seeing what he thought was green foam emanating from the cat's mouth.
I remember I used to love living there.