Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Tooting High Street

Did anyone else watch the brilliant documentary on Channel 4 tonight called ‘My Street’? I have to say I was gripped (I did have to watch it on Channel 4 +1, as I am addicted to the new Dawn Porter series, more about that in a blog soon) from the start until the finish.

It was part of the Cutting Edge series which I have to admit I don’t tend to watch for fear of them being to high brow for me, I think I will watch more in the future. The film maker Sue Bourne decided that after years of living on her street and having met no one she would go to every one of the 100+ houses and try and find out more about people.

A fair few people thought that she was simply being ‘nosey’ and in all honesty in London most people would feel like that. The ones who didn’t however were on such a wide spectrum of society it was fascinating. There were large families, families dealing with a father with cancer, a millionaire – the laziest millionaire who doesn’t live or look like a millionaire, a 80+ man who live don his own and had no visitors, some authors, a drug addict or two, some very crazy New Zealanders and a women who was very successful and single but not really happy with the latter. There was a very sad story of a lad who had Tourette’s syndrome and as the show went on the worse he got and sadly he died, alone, with no one looking after him, none of the neighbours new he was even ill.

The story was fascinating. What do we really know about our neighbours? Other than a baby crying upstairs and the fact I like the neighbours downstairs as little as the last ones I know nothing about the 4 other flats that I share a hallway with let alone the other 224 buildings and their inhabitants, and some of those building have multiple flats like mine. I didn’t even know that no one had been living in one of the flats for the last 4 months until I was talking to the agents, I may move up there!

What must my neighbours have picked up from me? They know I sort the post out as one of them once came to see if I had taken something, so they also think I am the thieving type. They know I am gay as most of them came into the flat when the police raided us all and Mr B and I were in our matching dressing gowns. They know I am a cat lover, she never shuts up meowing at the door when I am out; maybe they think I am a cat punisher? Oh dear. Really they know a little but not a lot and what happened to the good old Nescafe days where you could pop to the next flat and get a cup of sugar as you had just run out and the guy was fit on the next floor… and the bloody corner shop charges you an arm and a leg?

I could go and make little ‘hello’ cards and slip them under their doors and down some of the street, but I feel that’s incredibly gay and also they probably couldn’t give a toss. I remember when I first moved to London and I thought wherever I lived would be like Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, only in the UK. Where I would meet a fabulous Mrs Madrigal and have my very own Mary Ann and meet my very own Michael Tolliver (though in the TV show I always fancied his Dr boyfriend more) …or something. Alas I suppose that life is never quite as good as fiction, though having said that with all the characters in Sue Bourne’s street it would make an amazing novel.

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