I’ve been trying to work out what that smell is in Holloway.
The smell that grabs you by the throat as that first blast of fresh air hits you on the escalator up to the surface from the tube. The smell you can taste.
Part exhaust fumes, part stale alcohol, part melted plastic, part rising damp, part southern barbeque. But perhaps the latter is more directly specific to my street where the strange little Irish pub on the corner, seemingly only for ‘local people’ with a minimum blood alcohol level of 0.5 and a maximum of four of their own teeth, seems to be forever joining forces with the evangelical church community centre that sits next to is and lets them use their pavement space for their barbeque. Whats even more peculiar is I can’t think I’ve ever seen anyone eating there. Just a sad looking man in an apron and chefs hat.
If I wasn’t a vegetarian I might be half tempted to sit down on one of his broken plastic chairs and share a burger.
This Holloway smell used to my nostrils convulse but now I breathe it in. Now that fresh country air has been well and truly squeezed out of my wee lungs by whatever it is that makes the sky glow orange at night, I find it almost comforting.
Whenever I leave the city, I miss that film of grime that comes off with my make-up at the end of the day, that lingering smell of people that sticks to your hair and leaves itself on your pillow, the dirt that tattoos itself to the skin under your nails.
It’s as if there is too much air to breathe.