Friday, 17 May 2013

#Once upon a time - Alchemy. Part One.

Once upon a time .....

I held a one way ticket in my hand. Destination unknown. I was thirty years old - a watershed age, still in the hangover of my twenties, not too old, or so I thought, to consider the grown-up decisions - marriage, mortgage, kids - of my thirties. I was still playing at life, gambling with choices, motherhood nowhere on the radar.

A question mark over the DJ'ing, a recent redundancy in my pocket, I was headed south with no job, no five year plan, no sense of my next move. Surely I should be established by now? Should know myself like the blue and red veins on an ordinance survey map? Who was I now? What shape would I become?

I nearly bottled it, an inch from grabbing my bag and running like a hounded rabbit down the platform, back to familiarity, to comfort, to fish and chips on a Tuesday evenings with Grandma. But there was a shudder, a jolt, as the train quietly eased - the rhythmical clack and a clack on the track - out of the station.

Decision made I guess.

I looked at the rectangular card between my fingers. I could always return if this adventure fell on its fat face. I knew these streets so well, the junctions of my child hood, my teenage years, my twenties. Yes, I thought, I could always swim up stream, back up the M1, a tried-it-but-didn't-work-out salmon returning to fertile ground. But I never did. I knew even then, months and months before, slumped on the top deck of the 96 grumbling up Otley Road, autumn rain drops crying on the windows, the inner voice asserting 'time to move on, get out, do something new', that I wouldn't be returning to my birth town.

London was a like a giant spread of tapas - the olives, the calamares, the chorizo al vino, the patatas bravas. An endless selection of choices and ideas and inspiration. I discovered tai-chi and yoga and street art and new friends and just how rude commuters can be. There were windy walks on Hampstead Heath and picnics in Regents Park. Proper sushi. The finest vanilla ice-cream in candlelit restaurants on Upper Street. Watching gigs on sticky July evenings at Somerset House. Admiring installations in the Turbine Hall of  the Tate Modern.

I temped in grey offices, over views of the city - the monolithic pillars of Canary Wharf, the overbearing slabs of concrete caging Liverpool Street. I watched as tiny workers on ropes filled in the missing pieces of the The Gherkin, sometimes their limbs completely lost in fine, spectral mist. Then one day two towers crumbled - the fire, the bodies, the blood - and I smelt the death and sadness in the empty tube carriage, images of grief and horror on forgotten pages scattered on the floor.

I didn't get along with finance, with the starch uniforms, and the bare, bored walls. I was formally told off - a bad, bad school girl - for not ironing my shirt, for not combing my hair, for not making enough cups of tea for the team. A manager who clearly resented me. And the feeling was mutual. What was I doing working as admin in a risk department in Aldgate? How had I managed to swap my decks for a flat screen and the in-and-out tray and a hole puncher? The rent.      

The first home was a shared house in East Finchley, messy and cramped. The second, a flat on The Holloway Road - day and night the traffic never stopped, a constant noise of engines and sirens and horns. It  was broken into, DVD's and books strewn about, both my beloved Technics stolen. Then a flat I loved, large square rooms, a separate kitchen and lounge, opposite the Geffrye Museum on the Kingsland Road - a hop and a skip away from flowers and fresh coffee on Columbia Road or the vivid colours and curry houses of Brick Lane.  

Kingsland Road - Image Courtesy of Google

Columbia Road Flower Market - Image Courtesy of Google

Brick Lane - Image Courtesy of Google

The DJ'ing still continued, infrequently, in dusty warehouses and clubs under railway bridges and on boats moored on the Thames. I attempted at promoting my own night, 'No Fishes For Missy', the first foray a success - I paid the guest DJ, I broke even on the door, just didn't have the energy for another, couldn't muster the patience to spend evenings dropping flyers around every bar in Shoreditch. Something inside was deliberating, changing. I began tiring of late nights and vinyl shopping. Clubbing lost its shine - the days of waiting in queues, head-over-heels excited at the night's line-up, felt like a drag - so many nights over so many years, it was like going to work, like the nine to five. I always thought I would DJ forever and forever, until arthritis froze my wrists, the very last record cued aged seventy-eight.

When I reached my thirty-third birthday, I'd had enough.

One cold January afternoon the flat on the Kingsland Road was broken into, record decks snatched again. Faced with bent bars on the security grill, the front door wide open - 'come, come in - take anything you want' - I simply sighed with defeat, a resigned shrug of the shoulders, knowing what I would discover on the other side. The mixer and a box of best-ever records had also disappeared, and strangely a bottle of perfume. On the laminate floor, a pair of audio cables lay coiled, smothered in exhumed dust on the spot where my equipment should have been. At least the three thousand records lining the living room walls remained, stoical  amidst trauma.

And then I knew, truly knew - life waving its large, bright red flag - that over a decade of DJ'ing had taken its final bow.

A week later I met Younger Dad.


So once upon a time, what did you enjoy (or dislike) doing, seeing or creating? It could be anything. What were you like many moons ago? Do you have a once upon a time story to tell or picture to share? It could be a happy, sad or humorous tale. The skies the limit. So do link up below and grab the badge code ... and don't forget to tweet #onceuponatime. This is a monthly meme.

You can read my other once upon a time stories here.

Once Upon A Time

Grab the badge code ...

<a href="http://older-mum.blogspot.co.uk/p/once-upon-time.html" title="Once Upon A Time"><img alt="Once Upon A Time" height="170" src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7036/6775563952_fdaee4eeff_m.jpg" width="150" /></a>

64 comments:

  1. Ah, reading your trip down memory lane has my own memory lane lighting up. I lived in Tufnell Park for years, I wonder if our paths ever crossed on The Holloway Road... either there or out at a club night in Shoreditch?! It's funny for me living close by to Dalston and Shoreditch and seeing nightlife going on without me - or rather the many walks of shame mid Sunday morning, club suntans glistening in the morning sun!!! Great post, thanks for a memory-reviving moment!

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    1. I wouldn't be surprised if our paths did cross. In the Holloway Waitrose perhaps? 'Club suntans' - that made me laugh. Shoreditch is a fantastic place to be when you are in your twenties and thirties (most of)! Glad to have jolted your memory.

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  2. Ahhh loved the trip down memory lane!! Once upon a time I loved London so much I commuted for 8 years. I stayed in hotels for all that time and travelled around working and loved every minute of it. You'd regularly find me sleeping on trains. Then one day I realised I wasn't actually living my life. Just travelling during it so that I could work for the rest of it. Fate intervened and I stopped doing it and it was then OH and I finally got married and had little Z. :)

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    1. Seriously? That's dedication - but sounds like you had a fab time. I know those moments when you feel like you aren't living your life... then it's all change :o).

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  3. Perfection. Apart from the shitty bits, obv, but then they led you to perfection! Brilliant post love reading about you :)

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    1. Thank you lovely .... the crap bits weren't that bad, I've experienced worse :o). When you look back it is nice to see all the twists and turns that led you to that moment. :o).

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  4. So vivid I felt I was living it with you. Funny how life takes us in a journey!

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    1. Thank you lovely! Tell me about it... it all makes sense when you look back.

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  5. Whatever leads us to where we belong... your journey sounds amazing. I have never been to London. I don't count a one day trip with my boss to a graphic design exhibition. I loved reading about the different places you had stayed. I think I'm on a bit of a journey at the moment - since Izzy has been born, a year of hard work which I didn't see coming which has brought me to a place where I feel like I could maybe find my niche. Whatever gets us there... x

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    1. Very true indeed - life can weave the strangest of paths sometimes, it knows where we are going, it's up to us to trust where it is taking us - although that can be challenging if our circumstances along the way don't match our expectations. Great that you are now in a place where you have found your niche. X.

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  6. Fascinating! Sorry about the bad times, but love the last line. :o) xx

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    1. Thank you... they weren't that bad when I look back, glad you liked that line. X.

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  7. I would have loved to live in London when I was younger but I would have never had been brave enough, I love to visit now whenever we can. Love to read your post, sorry about the bad patches they lead you through to a good place :) Thanks for linking up and sharing with us at the weekend hop :)

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    1. It was a mad time, but I am glad I did it. It took a lot of courage to move down South, I could have so easily stayed where I was (having a boyfriend in London helped at the time). The bad patches weren't so bad in hind sight :o).

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  8. Gosh I felt like I was on your journey with you, I was gripped - great writing and love your ending! Amazing how and where life takes you xx

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the ride, and you liked the punchline! Life is pretty amazing like that isn't it? X.

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  9. How incredibly amazing. I looooove music and was probably in London during yr DJing days ... If only I had known u then. I can't believe what you went through but so good you listened to the soul of the world, and followed yr quiet voice. Life cld have taken a very different path. I'm glad it's on this one. I would never have met u, kimx

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    1. It was a very rich time in my life! Oh yes, I was a little raver, my DJ'ing days spanned the nineties, wonder if our paths ever crossed? Looking back, the burglaries and rubbish job weren't so bad, just life I guess, and I'm so glad it's led me to this point, and you too! X.

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  10. What a great idea for a meme, and so beautifully written as always. Time may move on and things change but some memories stay so clear x Lovely

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    1. Thank you .... please join in! Yup, those memories are all still there, flickering away on the back burner :o). X

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  11. Loved reading this. And it feels a little strange too as I used to live in Stokie and later on Liverpool Road and then in Hoxton...

    Love your writing. I want to hear more.

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    1. Thank you :o) .... Aaaaah - so you were an East end girl too! Great part of town, and so many drinking holes, especially in Hoxton! Part two coming very soon :o).

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  12. Fascinating post. Really enjoyed reading. I wondered what happened to your record collection (the one lining the walls). Do you still have them? Did you sell them?

    Lovely to read. Always love your 'Once upon a time' posts.

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    1. Thank you very much MP! I still have a few records left :o) I ended up selling a load as I just had so many, they take up so much space, and also to help me pay for the counselling course, which they did.

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  13. Some great memories, poignantly related. I hope it wasn't all bad!!!

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    1. Thank you very much. Most of it was very good!

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  14. Great writing... Brought back many memories of my own time in London, not that I was a DJ or anything that exciting! Hope you managed to replace the stolen records....

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    1. Thank you very much. I never managed to replace the records - that was the worst part - but I did buy new ones instead. Thank goodness I was insured!

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  15. Wow. An incredible post wonderfully written. I loved the insight into your life at that time. How brave you were! I would have never, not in a million years took off like that. I admire you.

    It's funny, but my possible next post that's been mulling around in my head for the past 2 days just might fit your 'Once Upon a Time' theme. Hmmm.... Won't be as wonderfully written as this though!

    xx Jazzy

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    1. Thank you lovely! I did have a then boyfriend who I was moving down to be with (but it didn't work out) - so that was a security blanket to move to. Oh please join in with your post! X.

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  16. I LOVE this post. I too did my time in Hackney - on Mare St, feels like an age ago now. Do you think you might ever get onto the decks again? It sounds as though it was a really important part of who you were/are, and often a passion like that never really goes away. Maybe you're just giving it a rest, so that you can do other things for a while?

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    1. Thank you very much! Oh yes! Defo! I still have a pair of decks - just not that utilised at the moment, and I still have a fair few records. My first novel is based in the nineties club scene - so I am reliving it all again through that. But you are right - the passion for something like that never dies.

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  17. This is so beautiful! I love the imagery and the way you describe London.

    And I would love to slap whoever told you off for not ironing your shirt...*comes from a woman allergic to irons* x

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    1. Thank you very much. The whoever was a woman - my line manager - and we didn't get along X.

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  18. Wow what an incredible post, I always love the way you write. A fabulous insight into years gone by and fate I guess - things always happen for a reason don't they. Great to find out about this blog hop too :)

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    1. Thank you very much - that's very kind! They are now very much years gone by :o) Where does the time go eh? Please join in! :o).

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  19. Oh Sarah, I love the graphic pictures your words paint. Your descriptions are just so vivid and real, I almost feel as though I was watching from the outside while the story unfolded. Your are a very talented writer and I do hope the next Once Upon a Time carries on from this one :)

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    1. Oh Nichola, you are so very, very kind. Thank you. I hope you buy my first novel :o) .... but I'll probably give you a free copy. Watch this space, part two is coming up very soon :o).

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    2. I will buy every one of your novels, I love your writing, you are fantastically talented and better than a good few novelists I've read :)

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    3. Huzzah! Thank you for your support - that's lovely. Lets see if there is a market for what I am writing :o).

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  20. What a lovely post - you write so beautifully. It is amazing how as years go by you change, whether it's you or circumstances or just life in general, it happens. Sometimes I look back ten years as if I'm looking at a different person entirely, it really is amazing how priorities and what you value can shift and evolve. Really enjoyed reading this - I'll be back for more! x

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    1. Thank you very much, that's very kind. I have just popped over to your blog - it's lovely, I'm a new follower! And I so agree, when I look back over a decade, I was such a different person. X

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  21. Sigh, your writing just makes me swoon. Lovely evocative post. And isn't it interesting how the universe just takes charge sometimes with the timings of life-changing events? Fabulous xx

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    1. That's lovely - thank you! And you are so right - funny how life steps in with a new path when we least expect it. I can say exactly the same for how I feel into blogging too. X.

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  22. I love this Once Upon A Time. So so nice to read more about your history. But of course, now I'm longing for part II :-)

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    1. Thank you lovely! Don't worry - part two coming up very, very soon :o).

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  23. So enjoyed this! What a rollercoaster of a route life took through your early 30's, and your wonderful writing just carried me with you. Love to read more xx

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    1. Thank you so much! To say my thirties was a roller coaster is an understatement... hope you come back for part two! X.

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  24. Loved this smooth writing, and the lovely finish; and it really reminded me of living in Bethnal Green (yes, Columbia Rd, yes, Brick Lane!). I've added a post to your Linky I wrote ages and ages ago as it fits the Once Upon a Time theme! Cool Linky :)

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    1. Thank you very much, and really glad you linked up, will hop over and comment as soon as I get a free moment :o) Oh yes! Bethnal Green! :o).

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  25. I love your writing and these posts. What a rollercoaster and so beautifully written. xx

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    1. Thank you lovely. Yes, my thirties were a bit of a white knuckle ride. X.

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  26. Ahh me, the club scene, those were the days... lovely post, beautifully written. Brought back some memories for me too :D

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    1. Thank you very much lovely! Those were the days indeed! :o).

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  27. I love this so much. I always enjoy reading peoples memories, especially when they include London as it takes me back to my own youth. I'd love to join in. Will write something over the weekend and link up x

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    1. Ah thank you! Please do join in... would be great if you linked up. X.

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  28. God but you write so well!! Love this post. Sarah x

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    1. Thank you - that's very kind. X.

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  29. Oh my god, I knew you were good, but I didn't know quite how good a writer you are. I was rapt the whole way through that story. I'm so buying your novel. You do have a novel, right?

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    1. That's very kind of you :o). Oh I so wish I did have a novel - I'm currently writing my first one.

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  30. You must have felt your ears burning last night, as I read this post, and then woke up to a comment from you this morning.
    I didn't comment last night as I knew I was bleary eyed and wanted to read the post again properly before commenting.
    This post makes you feel as if you were there. Your writing is exceptional. Can't wait till you are a published author.
    I'd love to do one to add to the linky, but I don't think I can write anything worthy.
    Great stuff, Liska xxxx

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    1. I love it when that happens! That's what I often do to - comment when I am feeling more refreshed.

      Thank you very much. I would love to be a published author one day (but not holding my breath).

      I'll bet you can write a great post - it would be great if you linked up.

      Thank you X.

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  31. Beautifully described - a journey so many have made.

    Mine started long before yours in Lewisham High Street and meandered through Holloway Road, Kingsland Road, Blackheath then out to Kent and for now Suffolk. Life is a river and picks you up and carried you on its current. All you have to do is let go of the side. Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Thank you very much. Love the direction you too. South then North East, East, then South again. Sometimes it can be quite hard letting go of the side!

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