It’s a cold British summers’ afternoon, but after a couple of hours in Camden I feel as though it’s the heat of summer; my worries seeming insignificant in the mayhem that is city street-life. Shop sellers are thrusting tourist tat in my face, street entertainers – with what can only be described as ‘balls’ rather than talent – being cheered and encouraged. Tourists are busying themselves with the unfamiliar sights and sounds, students dressed in leather-clad clobber with pink, green and blue hair, locals not even batting an eyelid – this is normal to them.
Walking through the centre, past the ring of students sat circling a nearby pub, waiting eagerly to get the front spot at the latest gig, I feel a pang of jealously that I’m approaching 32, and I wonder if I truly appreciated my student days when I had them. I tell myself its unlikely.
We pass a bedraggled old woman begging outside the local Sainbury’s, and she shouts at us “hello Mr. & Mrs. English, and what are you hiding?” I realise how out of place we must look, me in my 30’s dressed in 30 something ‘high street acceptable’ attire and my fiancé in work trousers and a shirt. I instantly love her astute interpretation of us and long to ask her “what’s your story?” I don’t, I’m too ‘acceptable’ to cross the social boundaries. For a brief moment, I wish the boundaries didn’t exist, but I dismiss it before appreciating the absurdity of my thought.
We continue walking, and pass a grand looking house with a prominent bay window. There’s art hanging from every spec of wall, and a large ‘arty’ dog bounds up to the window, just at the right moment to make the creative look complete. I snap him but, as I often think, my camera can’t quite capture the realness of the image.
Something makes me feel at home in this somewhat bizarre and unreal reality, but then I remember; I’m not 20 anymore, and I continue onwards to greet my 20-year old (almost) sister.