Hackney is one of the poorest boroughs in the country, and the neighbourhood I live in is pretty rough and run-down, even for Hackney. We see more than our fair share of crime and inner-city depravity: just this morning I walked past a drunk woman taking a dump in a phone box. Nevertheless we were all horrified when we learned that the local library was being used, after dark, as a brothel and crack house. The police raided it around three AM, arrested 30 people and seized a stash of drugs and weapons. We were flabbergasted, we had no idea that we had a library.
hackney is the most wonderful place – it has a real harmony to it although sometimes i wish it could be more peaceful – there are no minorities here – 33% white, 33% black, 33% other and because of this there is virtually no prejudice. there is a high crime rate but this is because of poverty – hackney is one of the poorest boroughs in the country. my local health centre has to employ no fewer than 17 different interpretors
hackney is full of musicians and artists and mad people who shout at empty spaces and have philosophical discussions with traffic signs
hackney is filthy and it stinks, it has wonderful markets with stalls that sell stuff that shouldn’t ever be sold anywhere and food you will never find anywhere else – you can buy african snails (live) as big as your head (not kidding) and they crawl over their vendor’s arms and faces
hackney has more than its fair share of violent youths and guns and shit like that but it is a vibrant place and it never ever sleeps. police sirens wail all the time and their choppers buzz overhead, scaring us and protecting us. cops in london beg not to work here and we struggle to find teachers to work our schools but the youth of hackney are beautiful, they make their own rules, not always good ones but their own – they are not kids you would want to fuck with, a friend of mine recently got mugged by a gang of 8-10 year olds
i never feel that i live in a town or a city or on an island here: i feel as though i live on a planet. when the aliens come, they will come to hackney, where they will at least feel at home. later this year they are holding the olympics just down the road, most londoners are proud of this (and i am one of them) but the general consensus in hackney is to not give a shit. there were riots in the uk last year but hackney hardly got scratched, kids here don’t need a news item to tell them to kick in a shop window. it is sad, i know, but it has such vibrancy, such vitality. there is nowhere like it on earth and although i want to live on an island in the sun and would swap this place for such a paradise in the blink of an eye, i will always love this shithole of a borough, its stink, its skanky whores and drug dealers that pester you every time you go get a pint of milk, the fact that people will just play loud music and not give a shit about public order. and most of all, even if we are all a little scared of each other, we never, ever judge.
I have used a little poetic licence with this post, to make it more readable but only a little.