The A10/Kingsland Road (a selection from)

 

by Christina Lovey

The A10 is 90.4 miles long, beginning at London Bridge where the Thames cuts its way through the city to the sea, and ending at Kings Lynn in Norfolk, an ancient port where the River Ouse bursts out into The Wash. The road has been there for a very long time – it is almost entirely straight. Its stories are compelling and they call to me – but this is not the place to explore them. This is a place to consider my lived experience. My story. Parts of it at least. And in relation to this: the A10, Stamford Hill, Tottenham High Road, Kingsland Road, Stoke Newington High Street, Kingsland High Street and home again, home again, jiggety jig.

Affect, form, motion, e-motion, sound and light are the elements under consideration here. Now. These are universal phenomena. Non specific but all interrelated – how can I determine their features when they all blur into one? I tease out the elements.

Affect: organic/inorganic, natural versus man-made, belonging, place, past/present/future, making (homes, babies, music, clothes, films, art), responding, memory, never forgotten/forget, assemblage, organic scenography, creativity, anticipation, problem solving and imagination.

Form: Old North Road, straight, Roman road (Ermine Street), sand/clay/limestone/shells/chalk, bitumen and roadstone, tarmac, 450 year old oak tree, plane trees, cattle troughs, sheep drovers, hunting parties, junctions, crossings, queues (traffic), The Waste, markets, Town Halls, Banks, Schools, houses, shops, blocks of flats, cinemas, office blocks, factories, inns/pubs, bridges, City Wall.

Motion: vibrations, engines, walking, rhythm, time passing, time not passing, timeless, sun/clouds, trains, buses, cars, people, arterial, chug/chug/chug, chuga/chuga/chuga, brummmmm, hum, fast/slow, step/step/step, silent planes, sirens, never, ever still, constant.

E-motion: home, overwhelming/overstimulating, relentless (heat/noise), long, aesthetically pleasing, reassuring, terrifying, waiting, boredom, repetition, constant, beyond, searching, looking/thinking/listening, love, happiness, friend/foe, escape, drudgery, never-ending, frantic, desperate, calmness, peace.

Sound: NeeNorNeeNorNeeNorNeeNor, vroom/vroom/vroom, ring/ring, buzz/buzz/buzz, tap/tap/tap, drum/drum/drum, coo/coo/coo, caw/caw/caw, screech, ding, honk/honk/honk, swoosh, thrum, rev/rev/rev, beep/beep/beep, squawk/squawk/squawk, SHOUT (anger/fear/pain), cry, SCREAM.

Light: North/South, East/West, darkness, sunlight, shadow, stars, moon, crane lights, buildings (lights on), lamplights, traffic lights, headlamps, buses, shop lights, Christmas decorations, fireworks, promise, plane lights, never truly dark.

 

 

1. 1960. Linthorpe Road, Stamford Hill, N16

Up, up and away, in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon.

In vitro.

Reach for the sky; up, up and away. My mother – not generally prone to story telling – once told me that when she, my father and my brother lived at 46 Linthorpe Road, just off Stamford Hill, (and I was in vitro) that the Jewish woman in the flat downstairs asked her one day to turn on her lights, as she was not allowed to do so given that it was the Sabbath. No other memory seems to remain. Yet I feel it somehow – a connection to this road, the house, the place. I wonder what it was like in 1960. I can see the old library building and an old school and my vibrant imagination makes sense of the past in relation to the now. I feel rooted. After my father left us and we were a sad single parent family living in Northampton, I once spontaneously started singing the song, Up, Up and Away. My mother shouted at me to stop. I don’t like that song, she said. I don’t like that song. I sang it silently anyway. Up, up and away, in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon.

 

 

3. 1983. Middlesex Polytechnic, White Hart Lane, N19

I don’t want to go to China,

I don’t want to make the tea,

All I want to do is dance around and around,

Tapping my feet on the ground.

Education.

Humanities with a major in Drama. Audition. White Hart Lane campus was a short walk from the A10. Here I read Freud and Jung, Margaret Mead, Aristotle, Gogol, Raymond Williams and Grotowsky. First year, when we had to audition for the end of first term production, I wrote a silly song that nobody laughed at. I got the part of the Wicked Witch in the non-traditional pantomime. I screamed at the top of my voice: Where is She, Where is She!!! And I got to hang daggers above Cinderella’s head. I am confused by the memory of this place, that song. The lyrics state a desire to tap dance. Yet it was not then that I danced around and around, tapping my feet on the ground. It was in 2005, when I found self suffering, struggling, unable to do anything but tap my feet on the ground. This action made me feel rooted. In 2013, in Belfast Road, at the bottom of Stamford Hill, where the constant thrum thrum of the A10 invaded my dreams. But I confuse myself . That’s a different story. In White Hart Lane, I found that I was able. Able to read, think, debate, perform, sing, write and be. I found my home amongst the radical lecturers and diverse student body. I joined the Women’s Group. I joined the Sit In. I found myself with no other option than to open a squat. One night, armed with a crowbar and a list of empty Hackney properties, an old hippy from Cornwall – old enough to be my father – helped me as we scoured the houses looking. Looking for a home. Found in Tottenham Road, N1. A three bedroom house, with carpets, a sofa bed, open fires, a bath in the kitchen and an outside toilet became our home. The front bedroom was mine, the second my five year old son’s, and the third I offered to another student, who shared it with her friends who sat around all day and night cooking heroin and playing chess. The constant thrum of Dalston Junction and Kingsland High Street almost in ear reach – but near. Near enough. Nearly. I don’t want to go to China, I don’t want to make the tea. All I want to do is dance around and around, tapping my feet on the ground.

 

 

10a. 2016. Hundred Years Gallery, Pearson Street, E2

I don’t want to go to China,

I don’t want to make the tea,

All I want to do is dance around and around,

Tapping my feet on the ground.

The Bong and Shirley Show.

Us. A creative partnership that emerged out of a long friendship. We worked on songs, stories and secret stuff and then we started to share our songs, stories and secret stuff with others. The song I had written in 1983 was developed to include a story about an angel that lied and a demon that told the truth – of course. And now I danced, around and around tapping my feet on the ground. Mr. Bong Crisby made everyone smile. His sartorial elegance was oddly contrasted with the strange mask he wore, yet he carried it off with style. Dame Shirley Claquette tried. I wore a Barbra Streisand style curly wig and a fancy 90’s outfit with shoulder pads and sequins. People came along and smiled. They even clapped. Some cheered. I loved seeing the smiling faces although my nephew’s confused face as he stood at the back perturbed me. He had not seen that sort of thing before. Not many people had. We were unique. We had been invited to perform at the closing event of an art show by a man who wore a kilt. During his introduction, when he had finished playing his ukulele, he lifted up his kilt and bent over so we could all see his robust backside. Mooning. Moon. Some people were embarrassed but I knew that this was nothing. I had seen it all before. Naked women writhing around in red paint; strange sounds emanating from electronic devices; blood letting. We were mild in comparison. Memorable? I don’t know. I don’t want to go to China, I don’t want to make the tea. All I want to do is dance around and around, tapping my feet on the ground.

10.b 5.b 2019/1988 The Glory/The Victory, junction of Kingsland Road and Orsman Street, E2

We were washed out to sea by a giant wave,

And our poor drowned bodies were finally found in a cave.

Great Night.

The last night. He breathed heavily after our first number. We were on first but that did not matter. The host of Werk in Progress introduced us as icons. Andrew Logan was there. The basement of The Glory smelt of sex and stale beer and poppers and glories that fade. Just as he did. That was the last time I saw Bong Crisby. It was inexplicable. No cause of death was ever determined. I think he died of happiness. At the end of the night, we sat and talked in the same place that I sat and talked to my youngest son’s father, many years ago on our second date. We flirted while a pianist played Chick Corea songs in the corner. Not the same man. But the same story. He died of sadness and sorrow and pain and never to be accomplished dreams. He died alone, in his sleep. Bong Crisby died alone, in his sleep. But he died of happiness. We all die alone. The road vibrates with memory now. Sometimes I cannot determine time and place as separate things – they mold into each other. Entanglements that unravel only to become entangled again. Like my hair. In 1988 I used to only brush it once a week – I recall evenings spent pulling apart matted locks of hair only to then allow it to matt itself again. Entanglements of time, place and memory are like that. Unravelling becomes a waste of time and energy and I allow. I allow self to entangle and then I watch as I slowly, naturally, effortlessly, unravel. To feel the sadness. We were washed out to sea by a giant wave. And our poor drowned bodies were finally found in a cave.

 

 

11. 2020. 66b Stamford Hill, N16

High on a hill lives a lonely goat herd,

Laya oa laya oa layio.

Now.

Grief. Present. Up here on the hill. Again. I have been here before. A few doors up at 84a in 2010, then a few hundred yards at Stamford Hill Mansions in 1999, but that is a different story. One I wish I could tell, effortlessly. By letting it all unravel. Unable, I look out at the sky, spectacular when the light is failing and the sun is setting. I can see new buildings on the horizon, the lights of cranes cutting through the dark sky and crowding out the darkness. I can feel the vibrations. Prayers sung in strange deep voices, children laughing and playing outside. Who are those people in their gardens talking odiously and incessantly for hours and hours as thumping dance music drifts through my window. Stop. Stop it. Stop making so much noise. The constant thrum thrum thrum of the road is inside my head. I can make it stop if I scream, silently, in my head, so as to not disturb the neighbours. I am older. Much older. Time has passed – I know it has – yet time stands still here. Up on the hill. Alone. I am alone. We all die alone. I watch from the second floor as the world continues on the street below. Walking, talking, laughing, shouting, running, moving constantly. Never still. Never silent. Constant flow of life below. Below on the street. Below. High on a hill lives a lonely goat herd. Laya oa laya oa layio.

 

 

Dr Christina Lovey is a performance artist working with text, photography and film, rhythm tap dance and ritual. Her work considers experience and uses multiple modes to re-present aspects of experience. Christina studied performance art at Middlesex and worked in applied theatre, before lecturing and tutoring – she currently tutors neurodivergent learners at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, while maintaining her own diverse art practice. Christina gained a PhD from University of Brighton in 2016 – her phenomenological practice-led research project considered the liminal experience of grief and its re-presentation in film. Her current research interests include somaesthetics, performative writing, shamanism and its relationship to artmaking, and auto-ethnography/place.

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