“And as I came away I saw on a board that epitaph to all our yesterday’s, ‘Acquired For Development by…’”

- Alexander Baron, ‘The Lowlife’

It was a process of unlearning. I should have been feeling my insides burn and cider running through my veins, standing on the edge of Holloway Road surrounded by Mohawks and studded leather, an endless roll-up blazing in my mouth, discarded fliers pushing up against my feet. I should have stood under canvas on Blackheath, whipped by rain and wind but now glowing with human heat and energy. I should have found that squat in East London, a party to continue that feeling that something, somewhere, mattered. Anywhere but here.

Those places a different universe from these phantom bars, alcohol nights where I tried to convince myself I belonged, no result, just anger and frustration, cognitive dissonance, hundreds of human beings with nothing to say dislocated from time and place. A line of coke on glass, a sad handjob in an alleyway, a Catch 22. Maybe, as some had told me, it didn’t matter.

A doppelganger who shared my face and name but little else. He had tried to change himself for someone who neither deserved nor desired it. Lives swam in and out of focus here, multi-national but rootless, transitory, paper thin. You could push your finger through their skins. He had to run, regretting his failure. Leave your brain at the door. Enthusiasm was passé.

I thought of a picture of the 4-Skins leaning against The Bricklayers Arms, I thought of Stewart Home, and I thought of Cockney prostitutes ripped apart to give us the modern media, the serial killer and an unending conspiracy theory. Morbid tourism. I thought of the Hawksmoor, I thought of those plague bodies under the market, the Jewish Anarchists, a Banglatown unseen by women protected in sunglasses and dyed hair. If you asked me, I could never fully articulate why I cared. Overpriced warehouse flats full of Europe’s privileged, unknowing elites, yes it did piss me off but... no anger, now, just a fading frustration and a sense that this was not where things happened. A sadness that they didn’t care.

I unlearnt. Escaped.