Friday, 14 April 2017

Highgate eccentrics

Highgate Village attracts its fair share of eccentrics. Sometimes it's wonderful simply to take a break from working in the window of the cafe to stare out into the world. I'm aware that it's not the realist world in the world. But then again, what is real? Why is the middle class bustle of Highgate any less real than the grimy streets of Hackney? People are still living and working here. They feel pain. They fall in love. I think there's a bit of a rush to invalidate certain communities in the country because of a perception of wealth, class, or lack of diversity. Highgate Village definitely feels like a community. The same faces dart around on a daily basis.

There's the woman who knits very thin scarves. She pours over them for hours, using a pair of scissors to snip away the tiniest little yarn imperfections. But the scarves she knits are only about five centimetres wide and I always wonder why she knits them.

There's a bloke who wears enormous Jamiroquai-style hats. He shuffles around, somewhat nervously, and seems to argue bitterly with other villagers.

There's the tall, over-formal, incredibly posh, yet slightly autistic Chinese lad who stops and bows at you in the street if you smile at him.

There's "Fingers", the man who spends every day of his life walking around the neighbourhood taking things from dustbins, one assumes that he will later sell.

We occasionally get visits from a chap called Ben, who paints the most extraordinary miniature pictures on chewing gum attached to the pavements.

Then there's a couple who must be actors. They're probably in their sixties, but incredibly well-preserved. She's a bit like Liza Goddard with delicate Shirley Temple blonde ringlets tumbling down the side of her face. He's all angles: razor sharp cheek bones, D'Artagnan-style goatee beard.

I make up stories in my head, imagining where the people are heading to, and why they're in Highgate. I think the two actors are having as torrid an affair as 60 year olds can manage. If only the world were more interested in communities like mine. Highgate would form the basis of a tremendous film documentary musical.

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