I love those moments where suddenly you feel like you’re a fly on the wall, just watching the world around you. You’re a voyeur of life, just watching people and you see what an absolute fucking chaos and mess the world is and somehow it just all comes together and makes perfect sense in how little sense it all makes.
I had one of these moments yesterday. At Costa Coffee in the Dalston Kingsland shopping centre.
I absolutely love Dalston, it has so much energy you can almost physically touch it. The Dalston Kingsland shopping centre is an absolute dump – or would be to most people – but I love it. The calibre of shops is mind-boggling, ranging from bright red pleather sofa sets that are always on sale to washing machines and fridges that can be financed from £9 a month, an entire store dedicated to women’s shapewear, random carpet sellers and the world’s most out-of-place Holland & Barrett – there is nothing not to love about the Dalston Kingsland shopping mall.
Sidenote: This mall is also home to perhaps the most reliable beauty salon in the country – Ria’s Beauty. How many times have I been let down by beauty salons that do not do threading, or their one-and-only-person-who-does-threading is away on the one day I need them or the salon is randomly closed for no obvious reason…but there is always Ria’s to the rescue. Ria’s is always open, they specialise in threading treating over 6 customers at once, they are efficient, reliable, quick and they charge Asian prices. I will always have a special place in my heart for Ria’s.
So I’m sitting at Costa Coffee post-waxing at Ria’s (they do that very well too), sipping a giant chai latte waiting for my friend Sam so he can return my phone charger he took home with him by mistake the other day. At the table next to me is a very big, very glamorous and very angry African lady who is shouting at her even bigger but not as glamorous husband. We are being served by a hyper-active Eastern European waitress who is loudly singing along to “Walking in Memphis” that is playing on the radio.
Outside the cafe the Turkish shopkeeper is closing down his stand for the day, it is endearing to see with how much care he is guarding his stock of hideous cheap bling that was probably made in Taiwan. A very skinny pale punk girl with bright green hair and Dr. Marten’s boots stands outside smoking her rollie and (probably) hating the world. The Indian girls who have finished their shifts at Ria’s Beauty Salon walk past on their way home gossiping and laughing to each other, wherever home may be – likely quite far away and sharing a room between a few of them.
All of us have come here from all around the world, looking for a better life, looking for success and happiness, looking for stability, safety and comfort…we have left behind us beautiful countries of sunshine, warmth, delicious food, beautiful nature (exactly those wonderful places that other people pay a lot of money to go on holiday to and gush about when they come back) to come to beautiful bleak, grey and rainy England and here we all are at the Dalston Kingsland Shopping Centre, living our lives between Shoe Zone and a giant Sainsbury’s; and it actually all blends into one big warm fuzzy feeling inside me and makes me happy and feel at peace, life is good.