Saturday, 15 December 2012


I woke up to heavy tummy of a home cooked full roast at home with friends. In fact, the first proper meal cooked in that kitchen. As I was getting dressed, I looked at the window, an the opaque thick mist was covering the Victorian clay little chimneys from the terraced houses down the road. The sun had just started to rise, and behind those hidden fume ducts, the sky was turning streaky purple and yellow.

In reality, what woke me up were not the three alarms programmed for the new schedule, but the magic sound of the copper pipes dilatating against the old wooden floor, with a sound of periodic drops. Disconcerted by the post-effects of the feast and the intriguing noise, as it sounded as though somebody had broken in, so carefully I opened the door check on the corridor. But it was just my imagination.

After the standard morning routine, I set a foot on the street just by the time the Town Hall was banging the bells to signal 7 o'clock. I had been warned beforehand of their fantastic presence but I hadn't been fully aware until that moment. The seven bells paced my gate and I joined the flow of pedestrians walking towards the Underground station. And the sun kept rising shy, illuminating the remaining fallen red leaves from the autumn, sign of the forthcoming cold winter.

It was indeed my first morning away. Riding my usual tube line in an unusual fashion, walking towards the platform to the sound of classical music pieces blasting through the station´s PA system. Northbound and then Northern line. Riding away from Isledon.

Away from Isledon.

But it is that, when packing all my belongings accomulated during more than 2 years, it started to feel odd to leave the place. Every piece of paper, photograph, pen or spare button had a story behind related to such an eventful location: just between those four walls, between those 4 floors, inside those kitchens and definitely right at the front door.

- 'There used to be shops around here years ago', said neighbourgh one night while D was having a cigarette at 3 am... - 'There used to be shops'. Now there aren't.

While dusting away some notes from my Masters, classifying the useful from the redundant, I remember about Uni just a year back. The nearby University, now infamous for their malpractice and fiasco with overseas studients. Those mornings walking to class, passing right next to the infinite concrete Council Estate, through the hurdles to stop the cars and right next to the Emirates Stadium. And the early rainy mornings walking through Highbury Barn, fighting against the wind, where I discovered the leafy Aberdeen Park. And walking towards the barn, towards the station, is where now sits that brand new, shiny student hall being constructed down the road. I saw it whem it was just a couple of asian imported clothing warehouses. I have seen the church in the corner being refurbished to become the main HQ of the Pentecostal church of UCKC.

I still remember my first trip to Finsbury Park and the moment I discovered that derelict house opposite to the dodgy church: the blue pub with the painted faces by RUN. It used to be a pub, a venue for punk bands in the 70's. Just like the dodgy church, that by that time was a Theatre called Rainbow where big names like Bowie sweated their shirt on stage.

But sure we'll miss Akdeniz, our 24/7 convenience store in the corner. So many sleepless nights there. Last minute groceries shopping, countless nights after a night out in Camden. So much 'fine wine', 4 for 1 corn in the cob and strange unconfirmed stories about holding two pineapples. Stories about unexplainable stomach aches after eating their sausages, ultra-fast going off milk and funny-taste eggs. But they never failed us we needed them the most and their tomatoes were ace.

And the 29. I used the famous 'bendy bus'.

A farewell too to the Swimmer. Hidden between the residential streets of Seven sisters road: The Swimmer at the Grafton arms. Our holy place to wash away our despair. Breakout area for when it was too hot or too smelly to be at home. A place where a very very good burger could be enjoyed unlike the Tollington, despite being closer.

Farewell to the Faltering Fullback, known by the locals as The Flower Pub. Actually, my first 'proper' English pub when I came here. My first contact with the city, and my first effort to try to keep up with your drinking pace, guys. Didn't succeed (and I didn't have time to have dinner that time). The dark and leafy atmosphere remained in our memory to come back as often as possible to runaway from when Seven Sisters felt dull. But we will always love the Big Red, that dark heavy metal pub in which our housemate D is not allowed in unless accompanied by us.

But Seven Sisters is just a street. It has its character. It's like your shy work colleague. Looks unfriendly, but after a while you become best friends. Perpetual opening 'offies', mega deal charity shops, the cheap butcher in the corner, the Sunday's car boot sale and the Nags Head Market. Fishmonger, Jamaican pasties, white eggs, buttons, fabric and trimmings, the eye-brow threader or the 3 for a fiver man-vest stall.

But after mentioning the good pubs, I cannot leave without mentioning The Coronet, the 'spoony' hidden inside the premises of a 1930's theatre, known by us as the sad pub. Or the infamous Gaff now converted into a Costa.

I will miss wandering around Sunday morning down Holloway road and trying on ridiculous 70s printed dressed and wrinkled 5 pound woollen coats at London Region CND.

I will miss Jai Krishna, the inexpensive Indian restaurant. We will miss The Front Room for those lazy Sunday brunches when it was more worth it to get served than go to the shops to buy eggs and cook. Just as much as Bon Matin, which I would have liked to have explored far more. Will miss the Beach Hut in Highbury Barn and its lovely humid atmosphere, easily chilled down by their delicious lavender ice-cream.

I won't miss Morrisons, but I will miss Selby's and their secret Topshop corner. I will miss Jones Bros impressive building as I was hoping to manage to get inside at some point to discover its Victorian insides.

And as I write this, I am scared of realising how emotionally attached I am to things and places. But I really enjoy that, at the same time, I can relate things to stories. Stories that I will probably forget in a couple of years. Stories about doors, coffee tables and sofas.

But it is just a farewell, not a complete goodbye.

At the end of the day, N7 is just a few stations away from SW2.

My world now revolves to the sound of the bells.

Bells will be another story.

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