double take (clifton, bs8)

i think i’ll take a walk around clifton. grand old clifton: older than bristol itself, sitting pretty on top of the hill.

as i head around another georgian corner i bump into Chris. i normally see him in the early evening: 2 bags bigger than him, capped and second hand smoke in mouth. we sometimes have a chat but not today – he seems keen to get on.

i’m heading downhill along st. john’s rd. i can feel the parallel energy of whiteladies and picture the cafe’s full of their regulars having a gas, alcoholics’ annonymous smoking cigarettes outside the church and orange bagged shoppers leaving the supermarket. i cross the bridged tracks behind roo bar, over alma rd and onto hanbury.

approaching the triangle from the queens rd side i begin to meet more people and, even though i have my music on, hear the sound of flute floating toward me. it’s John in his usual spot – between all saints and boots – with a firm wall to lean against and a glass overhang just in case of rain, though today it’s baking hot. he’s still got multiple layers on and must be boiling. retro aviators (one side held up with string) make up his attire. we chat about his visits to cheltenham (the joys of pedestrianisation vs. noisy roadworks), our plans for the day and the glorious sun that shines on both of us. “bye jim” he says, as i get up before i get too comfortable and so he can get back to work. “see you soon” i reply. his flute kicks back into action before my back is fully turned.

busy shoppers are all around and it’s a little too full and familiar for me, so i loop the loop (via my favourite, manos, for a coffee) and head up the thin pass behind la tasca up into park place.

houses appear to be getting taller and grander now. there’s a curious mix of people: the latest wave of students (injecting bristol with money, cars and funny accents) and eccentric cliftonites; old as the hill on which they live and twice as weathered. i imagine them tutting under their breath about last nights noisy party next-door.

the sun is getting low and i head to the albion for an earnt pint of bitter.

as i leave i see Stretch sat underneath the arches with his dog (i don’t know his dog’s name and i doubt he mine). Stretch – 7 foot 1 in height – is an alcoholic and rather slumps on the paving. i join him and he kindly offers me a can of standard lager as he sips his 9% special brew. i accept and we chat a bit incoherently, throwing a ragged tennis ball for said canine to fetch (apparently very happy and evidently more sober than the both of us).

eventually i wend my way home again. the alcohol, days’ conversations, descending night and emotions cast new meaning to my music. i see more people through tall sash windows in lit rooms than i do on the streets and i’m keen to get back home and into the warm.

giving people a bed… and a reason to get out of it: emmaus bristol.

and a track for today: i live a lot of places – woodpigeon.

thanks for reading don’t forget the sun. take care. k x

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2 Responses to “double take (clifton, bs8)”

    • thanks no boots, good piece. i’d appreciate you keeping me posted with other charitable orgs you find doing good work in bristol. x

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