mr. smiley (montpellier, bs6)

last night’s in my system. i walk down zetland rd, leading to the junction of cheltenham rd and gloucester rd, i take a right down kingsley rd (the one with the newsagent on the corner). there is nothing obviously of interest – no other shops or busy pedestrian thoroughfare – but i wait and look, facing zetland with the sun at my back. a union jack sways out of an open window. loose cloud disipates, lost within a deep blue sky. electricity cables radiate 360 degrees. a couple of people walk past… and then a man on a bike approaches. as he passes his rucksack provides the finishing element to my frame and sets the tone for the day.

onwards along cheltenham rd towards ashley rd, the energy, along with function, shifts. i walk under the arches (the old viaduct) and then past the colston girls school – a jacobean beacon amongst the otherwise victorian surrounds. walking past the pipe and slippers, i bump into a friend, still up from at last night and strong in will if not mind or footing. we embrace but this moment is his and i depart.

at the junction of ashley rd and picton st i arrive just as the shutters are pulled up at the magpie. the magpie is a creative space used as a workshop to make music, clothing, furniture and art (from materials they find/have been thrown away). the site acts as a meeting place, they also offer holistic therapies and internet access. they’re squatting and have been resisting the proposed arrival of a chain supermarket. it appears that the community support them – “they warned the move would kill off small family-run shops in picton street which were essential to encouraging a community spirit in the neighbourhood”.

picton st is indeed a vivacious place – i hear it has a revolutionary reputation. what is clear are rows of georgian properties linked with a cafe, specialist/organic food shops, a retro clothing outlet and other small businesses. the road is thin and properties tightly knit…  

there’s a sun-bleached sign hanging from a first floor window that says “leave art not turds”.

i climb a hill and find myself facing a row of individually coloured garages. to my left there’s a group of eight or so people slowly making their way over. i can tell by the way they move (their arms, their legs, their heads, their cider) that they are still riding a wave from last night. it washes them up the hill. i don’t take a photo, i just stand and admire. as our paths cross, heads turn and eyes briefly meet and then they’re gone – floating away into the great beyond.

the next day i took a trip with another bristol blogger (and talented filmaker) – weekend autopsy – to look and film the justice instillation at the old bridewell police station in bs1. artists with an interest in human rights, equality and abuses of power had travelled all the way from france and new york to bristol to express themselves.

the luxury of leaving such an austere setting and stepping back into the sun is not lost on me. i look forward to spending the rest of the day appreciating my senses and the city in which i live.

today’s musical instal is from a couple of french antifolkists. a track inspired by a trip to the uk, and in particular it would seem, bristol. who could blame them? bristol – herman dune

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

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