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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Mommy, can I go out and kill tonight? [20060502|15:14]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[with a hint of |guess]

Today, I walked from Vauxhall Station down the Thames Path into the sprawling, ugly council estates of Wandsworth. I felt alien, and not just because I was the only non-black person in sight. Poverty seems to drive people into the streets. Mothers with children too young to go to school, elderly people making the arduous trek from home to the shop for their groceries, gangs of idle teenagers looking for trouble or making it. They stared at middle-class me with a mixture of curiosity and hostility. I could see their thoughts in their eyes. "What are you doing here? You belong in the West End. Go away." I took my Lomo photos as discreetly as possible and obeyed.

Three blocks later, I was in Lambeth, heading toward The Oval down a wide, tree-lined avenue. Since affluence seems to seal people in their houses, I faced only the bright white colonnades fronting each building. I meandered down the silent street past drawn shades and home security warning signs. Halfway to the end, I spotted a house covered by overgrown vines and peeling paint, with a small unkempt garden where the other houses sported spotless paving stones. Everyone in that neighborhood hates that scraggly, singular home, seeing the zeroes dropping off their property values every time they pass it.

I hope the oblivious, eccentric owner lives to be a hundred and sixty.
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Comments:
From: 24db
2006-05-02 15:46 (UTC)
Nice one, strangely enough I did the same thing last year. :)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-05-02 20:55 (UTC)
It's a weird area, isn't it. I mean, there are a lot of places in London where abject poverty is smashed right up next to opulence, but that's a particularly striking example, probably because of the sheer size and decrepit condition of those council estates.
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From: 24db
2006-05-02 16:01 (UTC)
the Court Tavern

Wooden Spoon House
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-05-02 20:56 (UTC)
Well spotted. I love the commentary too, and the way the arrow on the Wooden Spoon House sign appears to be poitning to an archer's slit. Yikes.
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From: boxofkittens
2006-05-02 17:08 (UTC)
Aww, my neck of the woods! Did you go to Bonnington Square gardens?
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-05-02 21:03 (UTC)
No, I didn't, because it isn't emphasized on my map - it's right by Vauxhall Station, I think? Now that I know it's there, I'll definitely make it part of the next expedition. I've been planning out my routes ahead of time for the project I'm doing and I don't deviate much because of the area I have to cover. But if there's anything in Fulham that you think I ought to visit (particularly south of Elephant & Castle and east of the Imperial War Museum) please do tell!
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[User Picture]From: victorine
2006-05-02 17:16 (UTC)
That was just... beautiful.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-05-02 21:05 (UTC)
Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: thefounder
2006-05-02 18:20 (UTC)
i'm glad i'm not the only one who bothers to explore around where they live to see what it's really like. i try to do similar with places i visit as well; people who think they've seen a town or city when they've not ventured out of the centre annoy me.

having a fairly similar walk yesterday made me want to take a leaf out of your book and starting taking photos of places. i started with a couple of views from my windows yesterday afternoon.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-05-02 21:12 (UTC)
I have to admit, it took me a while to get comfortable enough to do this. In fact, even though I have an Oyster card and am familiar with the Underground and a lot of the bus routes, I still have to muster up courage to go out and walk bits of London that I don't know intimately. I feel I'm just starting to understand how huge this city really is.
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[User Picture]From: thefounder
2006-05-02 23:47 (UTC)
personally, i'd feel hesitant to walk around London simply because of how little of it i could cover on foot compared with how much i could see by bus in the same time span. different when you live there, i suppose. i doubt i'd walk around Nottingham much if i didn't live here.

i hope you continue to enjoy getting to know dear old London. i think part of the reason it isn't to my taste is how different it is from 'normal' towns and cities. are you planning to explore any such 'ordinary' places?
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-05-03 20:32 (UTC)
It's true that you can cover more by bus but that doesn't give you the chance to crouch down on the pavement when you spy interesting things and snap photos. Or talk to the locals, which is also fun sometimes.

I'd like to explore more of England, sure. Marco and I have taken a few day trips here and there (Dover, Warwick) and visited Shropshire and the Cotswolds (courtesy of imyril) but I'd like to spend some time in a few other places. The visit to Shropshire, in particular, demonstrated clearly that London Is Not England.
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[User Picture]From: thefounder
2006-05-03 22:40 (UTC)
mm. a good point. i may have an excuse for my lack of interaction along the lines of not wishing to interfere with what i observe, but i'm unsure of how true that is really. probably more to do with my being a bus enthusiast...

i'm glad you have managed some further exploration. you've done better with that than a lot of the natives, so. i think most of the people who moan about Nottingham in the letters pages of the Evening Post have never been anywhere else. there are still fair chunks of the UK i've not been to; in particular, there are many major towns and cities i've not yet explored [e.g., Bristol, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Hull, Glasgow]. i haven't even been to Southwell Minster yet, and i can get there by bus for nothing.
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[User Picture]From: omniana
2006-05-02 20:17 (UTC)
Interesting contrast, very different sense of community. Hmm. Gotta respect someone who dares to stand out, including yourself.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-05-02 21:18 (UTC)
Exactly. Cooking and laundry smells, music and conversation wafted all around the first neighborhood. Total silence reined in the second.

Also, that was a sneaky compliment. ;-) We should talk soon about Ireland, now that I seem to be coming out the other side of this latest depressive funk.
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[User Picture]From: omniana
2006-05-04 20:13 (UTC)
Most surely. Send me a line when you have an idea of free dates.
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[User Picture]From: seismic
2006-05-03 05:45 (UTC)
I hope the oblivious, eccentric owner lives to be a hundred and sixty.

And has oblivious, eccentric heirs who share his or her longevity.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-05-03 20:35 (UTC)
Amen. I'll drink to that.
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From: ripperlyn
2006-05-03 06:50 (UTC)
'What are you doing here? You belong in the West End. Go away.'

Oh, I hate that feeling. I hate that feeling with such a horrible passion.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-05-03 20:38 (UTC)
Yeah. There really isn't much you can do about it, because it's an appearance-based assumption. Unless you were to actually get to have a lengthy and meaningful conversation with the people doing the assuming, you don't have a hope of breaking it down.
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From: ripperlyn
2006-05-04 07:16 (UTC)
And lets be honest, that kind of environment isn't condusive to that kinnd of conversation. :(
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[User Picture]From: slutbunwalla
2006-05-03 08:34 (UTC)
miss kitten...I must get that song... haven't heard it in ages.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-05-03 20:40 (UTC)
Ding! You are correct. Well, it's Golden Boy featuring Miss Kittin. I'll YouSendIt tomorrow if you like.
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[User Picture]From: slutbunwalla
2006-05-04 01:07 (UTC)
that would be great!!
:^D
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-05-04 08:48 (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: slutbunwalla
2006-05-04 08:54 (UTC)
YAY!
Hope I can get you back sometime.
And if I go to london in July we must meet...It's completely a pipe dream at the moment but I'll let you know if it happens.
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