Friday, 11 July 2014

An open letter to Johnny Walls Bakery

Dear Johnny Walls Bakery,

East London in spring, when the sun is showing-off and it’s market day – well down Broadway there’s a bustle.  Tied up in this tangle of bodies, if I tuck my elbows in tight and shrink my shoulders, and step and wriggle and step and wriggle, well I can float right through that crowd; one slack chunk of hairy flotsam; smelling pies and pocketing those things I hear that curl my mouth upwards.  I keep them in my little piggybank, a classic case of trash and treasure.

In the sun people drink beer on the sidewalk, they laugh, smoke cigarettes and fiddle with their phones.  Pretty girls smile at tall boys with good skin.  Wriggling through this crowd I’m not ugly anymore, I’m invisible.  It feels good.

Well down Broadway, one sunny Saturday a few weeks back I traded a sweaty collection of silver and pennies for a good coffee from a rude man with teeth like mine.  I sipped and strolled over the bridge and away from the crowd, down past the costumed kids on the BMX track at Haggerston Park and left onto Hackney Road, and on, and on. 

My feet fell quiet outside the Bethnal Green tube, stood still waiting for my 309.  Up high the sun hung a huge hunk of butter melting in the heavens, and in the park behind me, spread out on rugs on the manicured lawn, manicured couples read, napped, kissed and avoided dog turds with effortless grace.  The fat man to my left turned and tossed his lit dart through the fence, into the park, then sucked, slurped and spat for good measure.  I picked up a parked bike and smashed it across the back of his head, it made a good sound.  The bike bent around his body, and he just collapsed beneath it like an empty argument.  Silver spokes snapped clear of the rims and littered the ground like pine needles at the foot of a Christmas tree - I mean that’s what I would have done, if I had more time, but the bus was coming and I don’t know how to pick a bike-lock.

Onboard the bus was crowded with folk and fat with fumes.  Through the glass the sun outside still shone, dogs tugged at leads and boys and girls in dark glasses took their time to reflect in shiny shop windows.  The bus continued to rattle, it slugged and oozed along side streets, cutting corners and creeping towards Bow.  And as the 309 spat black smoke out along Ben Jonson Road, well to my right, white text, big block letters rising up out of a red backround announced Johnny Walls Bakery, which at a glance I read as Johnny Was a Bakery.  If I’m honest, Johnny Walls Bakery, Johnny Was a Bakery really is much better.  Think about it. 

Wil Greenway.      

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