Thursday, March 31, 2011

london belongs to me

Cheshire Street, Londonas I touched upon it in the last part of my previous post I feel it might be time for a digression on memory, dreams and the city.

the first time I went to London I was almost 25. that means that for at least 20 years I had watched tv programmes and films set in London, and for more than ten years I had listened to music set in London, and read books and articles about bands in London. I was basically steeped in references to a city I had never visited. so finally coming there, for a rushed two-day trip where we were meant to stock up on clothes (at the time my travel companion and I were both living in Dublin and, as much as I love that city, it really wasn't the place to find clothes) and records was a weird experience.

everywhere we went I encountered names and places I'd read about but didn't really have any actual relation to: Neil's Yard, Wardour Street, Portobello Road, and, most puzzlingly, Ingestre Place. Ingestre Place was a mystery, suddenly we were standing in this tiny cul-de-sac surrounded by anonymous walls, and it had been me suggesting we'd go in there. because I had seen the street sign on passing and it stirred some kind of memory: I knew, I knew there was something that had been important to me that was related to Ingestre Place. but, to be honest, there was nothing there to even give a hint what that thing might have been.

way later, after having moved back to Sweden, I was rummaging through my LP's looking for some record or other when I cast a glance at In the Beginning There was Rhythm and there it was: Soul Jazz Records, 12 Ingestre Place, Soho, London W1F OJF England.

suddenly it made sense, suddenly it fit, something that was very important to me did have something to do with Ingestre Place. just not the actual street because to me Ingestre Place was never that cul-de-sac, never those office buildings. to me Ingestre Place was Soul Jazz Records, the company that had released some of my favourite compilations. and in the same way Parkway is Saint Etienne's London Belongs to Me, rather than the actual street. even when I last walked along it – in dreary January weather – I was transported to a lovely lunch in Regent's Park from years ago.

I have never really encountered this phenomenon on any other of my travels, not in Tokyo, not in Berlin nor in Milan. I guess it's because London is ubiquitous for those taking part of any kind of pop-culture. it's probably the same with New York, at least for those of a more American leaning even if not to me. it was strange, though, the feeling you knew this place but not having a clue why or why you'd even like to know this tiny little street in the middle of a bustling city.

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