During the day, Portobello market can be a noisome place, seething with tourists and trendies from all over the place. The most photographed shop in London must surely the travel bookshop off Portobello Road which featured in “that fucking film.” Every time, and I mean every single time, I walk past it, there is someone photographing that establishment once sanctified by Hugh and Julia.
In the evenings however, the crowds recede and the place feels almost tranquil. There is still lots of life and living. But it is just in better proportion to the environment.
If I lived in the countryside, I would probably go for a Sunday evening stroll up a hill or along a stream. But I don’t. and because it is only a short distance away, I went for a twilight tickle down Portobello road.
There is more graffiti than you would expect by a stream. Like this enormous graf of Samuel Beckett. It sort of sums up the area quite nicely.
It is hard to believe but here is another sale in a dinosaur shop. Ridiculous.
Photographers were setting up for a shoot here. I think it must have been for a Habitat catalogue. Funnily enough I just worked on a play with a girl who had set-dressed for the same publication.
A charming haberdashery. How quaint are there alliterative mottoes. However, apparently they rip you off mercilessly, according to a passer-by who kindly offered me her retail wisdom.
This is one of my favourite buildings in London:
Trellick Towers, designed by a chap called Goldfinger, is both monstrous and iconic. It is listed for being a pioneering design along the lines of Le Corbusier. I just remember the first time I saw it was at the Notting Hill Carnival. I was a bit worse for wear, to be honest and had been stumbling round the carnival route for a good while. I looked up and expected to see more of the elegant regency terraces. Instead I had this beast of a tower block grinning down at me, resplendent in its ruthless functionality, menacing the heavy clouds above with its dark concrete.
Ever since I have been awestruck by it. I can see it from my studio window and had often wanted to see the view from the top. I once snuck in there with my chum Greg and we went to the top floor. It was an unbelievable view. The Westway (the biggest artery into central London) snakes right by it, pulsing with cars. From up there you clearly can discern the bizarre mix of outrageous wealth and brooding poverty which makes Notting Hill the neighbourhood it is, and the carnival such a singular experience. I should confess that I have a cute little mug with Trellick Towers on it. How’s about that for admiration?
Some kids were trying to rouse their mate on this otherwise empty housing estate. I hate accidental rhymes.
Portobello Green: the last of the market traders were packing up their stalls. There is something sad about a market being packed up.
This guy sells military surplus and uniforms out of the back a van, and clearly loves it. He told me he was going of to a desert tomorrow where he will be fitting out a load of people re-enacting an old battle.
Local authority sponsored street art. Flower memorial made from newspaper. It looks really good, catches your eye, and makes you think about how these memorials catch your eye and why.
This, however, was a load of shitting fuck. It looks better here than in real life because reflections have obscured most of it in the pic. It is a crow, clearly drawn by an amputee doing a handstand. It hopelessly commends itself by having the exact digital time it was drawn printed on the top left. So what? It is rare that a piece of art is upstaged by the brick wall on which it hangs.
Five seconds before this photo was taken I saw something which I thought was really great. We had stopped in this excellent tapas place for dinner. Great Spanish cheer and food. The waitress in the pic had just poured the man on the right another drink. She did not get a new glass and pour the wine with a measure whilst printing out a receipt. She poured it straight into the glass as it lay in his hand, maintaining their conversation. He just sat there and drank, a happy customer being taken care of.
There was something so hospitable and friendly in this simple little difference from the cultural coldness drinks are served in bars in this country. It was like a wild west saloon but with less horse poo.