I went on a long peramble today in the hope that it would suddenly become sunny, but it didn't. I'd organised about 40 books into piles ready for catching up on writing this weekend and decided to walk first to clear my head. Finding a way on to the canal towpath at Camden was impossible because it was so crowded you couldn't move, so I strolled up to Camden Road where it was such more peaceful. Accompanied by the dulcet tones of ducks and geese, I peered at houseboats with bicycles strapped to their roofs and bay trees wedged into crevices on their decks. The St Pancras Basin seems to be gripping on with white knuckles to its right to exist, but I sense the steam-rollers of progress snorting upon the horizon (and Camden Market should be trembling in its cowboy boots too).
The towpath's a bit of a con because at Islington you have to walk through a housing estate and then you get lost. Or I did anyway, until Chapel Street Market suddenly appeared. From then on it was football fans all the way; they appeared to support a team called Fly Emirates that I've never heard of but I liked the red shirts anyway. Islington is a curious place, with very expensive houses and very expensive shops to match them; but the streets are full of all sorts of people who must live somewhere in a parallel universe of metropolitan affordability. As I walked up Holloway Road, diving into vintage furniture shops I'd only ever seen from the car, the fans passing by got drunker and more noisy. Were they consoling themselves or celebrating? I never really picked that up. I saw the new Twelve Bar, which was hosting a large number of pavement drinkers. Further along, two rappers charged down the road rapping in unison. Then the shops gave way to lurid plastic signs for burger bars, kebab shops, and what appeared to be hundreds of minicab firms.
Holloway Road appears to be arranged in cultural stripes, with some middle class bits and some much poorer parts, with the air quality to match. Have the posh houses got ionisers tucked into the bushes in their front gardens?
I walked almost six miles this afternoon, much further than I'd meant to. It worked- it has cleared away the fog. The thought of Steel Pulse at The Forum was tempting, but writing won the toss in the end.