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Claremont Road #2 - Sued For Slush

Ever Fallen In Love, In Love With Someone, Ever Fallen In Love, In Love with Someone You Should've Fallen in Love With? Paul H's insights into squatting in East London take a romantic turn

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by Paul Hawkins, for outsideleft.com
originally published: August, 2006
As for me, I had met the woman of my wildest dreams. That is what it felt like.
by Paul Hawkins, for outsideleft.com
originally published: August, 2006
As for me, I had met the woman of my wildest dreams. That is what it felt like.
Claremont Road #2 - in an ongoing series; Part  | 1 |

The summer of 1990 was an eventful one along the M11 link road corridor. Many things happened that will be documented by my index fingers at a later moment in time. One episode that definitely changed my life for ever was this tale;

Around June time I remember walking along Grove Green Road with Perry and Alex. Perry was squatting with others, including slightly paranoid veteran anti-road protestor extraordinaire, Colin, in Fillebrook Road (another part of the intended demolition zone). Perry was a mate and was a white Rastaman, with huge dreads and surprisingly few of all the clich?©s you may, given a judgmental mindset, expect from a white dude Rasta. He was over 6 feet tall, skinny as a drainpipe and also seemed to wear the same clothes for months on end. He introduced me to a fantastic and very cheap curry takeaway in Walthamstow on one of our first evening sojourns out. Later, we went to catch the On-U Sound stalwarts Dub Syndicate play deep, hard, roots reggae in Notting Hill.  We got to become good friends, trading dubious substances and the like for quite a while. ULU, London, was a favorite haunting ground for lucrative student grant deals.

Alex I didn't really know, other than he was squatting in Colville Road, in a house with no ceiling, a trashed debris-ridden floor covered in all sorts of shit and boarded up front windows daubed in weird graffiti.

Anyway, we were walking along, round the corner out of Claremont Road, past the corner shop life-line, chewing the proverbial fat, towards Alex's place. On the corner of Colville Road my eyes, I swear, popped out of my head, my heart went into serious palpitations and I stopped dead in my tracks...Ķ

Standing there were two people. It was only one of them I was staring at and that had caused this effect on me. Walking towards us was the most beautiful human being I had ever set eyes upon, in the flesh, well, actually, covered with some clothes; a black t-shirt, with a short Indian patterned skirt and black DM boots. Just as well, as I may have needed to bend over and pretend to tie my laces or something for a while till I could walk. Some natural reactions cannot be controlled.

She melted my heart into a warm, gooey, sugary, tingly, blood pumping jelly. The beauty and her male companion walked straight past us and down into Claremont Road. I sighed inwardly, having momentarily forgotten who I was and where I fitted into the whole jigsaw puzzle of life. We moseyed on down Colville to Alex's and went in.

A couple of spliffs later there was a knock at the corrugated iron with a hint of wood, for appearances sakes, door. Jesus, it was the same two people (I found out later that they were both in the then relatively unknown band Bark Psychosis)...Ķ...Ķ

My desert island dreams soon burst when conversation began, friendly introductions were made and it turned out that Sue and John were about to be evicted and were on the hunt for another home; they asked if we knew of anywhere available to squat. Perry quickly rolled a big spliff and we chatted about the area and the current situation. Their timing was good as it turned out. Being fairly well organized, even then, and personally quick enough to embrace reality, its potential; and with those large green eyes liquefying me to a ten and a half stone smoothie, I stuttered out that they should have a gander down Claremont Road. Some of us had made a kind of map of the street, having been into all the empty houses to suss them out, and, almost like middle class estate agent's, Perry and I began to go through a pitiable ( as it seems now; laughable, bizarre, whatever ), yet informative, squatter sales spiel. Number so and so`s got no stairs, this one has had all the windows smashed out and is full of shit, that ones dodgy cos of the neighbors ( there were still a few very square, though well meaning tenants with families living in the street then ) etc until we all leisurely negotiated number 30 the best option. I introduced them to their infamous potential neighbor, Dolly Watson, who by now, having lived through 2 world wars, rationing and retiring from her secretarial job in the swinging sixties for Christ sake, was not too fazed by this. She was leaning on her front gate and was beginning to get used to all these `nice young people` who chatted and gave her some time and company. Dolly was only too happy to meet her potential new neighbors. She always worried about empty houses next door to her.

I let Sue and John know to knock at 18 whenever they wanted, quickly explaining that we had no water running into the house and if ever the fancy took them, to call by for beer/cup of tea and a smoke. I told them to give me a shout if they needed any help with anything, like electricity, plumbing, etc. There was quite a range of skills on tap from local residents and squatters only too happy to have the empties un-emptied, fight the cowboy demolition boys and the Department of Transport and their road-building, community blighting plans.

As for me, I had met the woman of my wildest dreams. That is what it felt like. I am very proud to say she is still my partner and soul mate today, after 14 years together. (It took a few years as it happened for us to succumb to those whirling teenage ever-so slightly flirty moments which I later realized was blossoming into stronger feelings called love, and, as it turned out, those same feelings were reciprocated. We just didn't dare tell each other for a long time. )

The only fly in the sticky ointment was that I was, at that time, in a dicey relationship and was full of all sorts of male hormonal lust and already making plans to try to see more of Sue without making a complete and utter wanker of myself. I had only just met her and I didn't even know her, her situation or anything. For all I knew she was gay, in a relationship with a partner or husband, a man hater or had the most chronic heroin, crack ( still fairly new in the popular top ten drug hit list then) or alcohol addiction known to man or woman. Or she could have been stark raving drooling mad as a hatter with a worlds top ten actresses skills in character morphing and psychotic deception. I didn't care at all. Nope, not one little bit.

What made it all the more perplexing and was really stretching my brain's capabilities to infinite probabilities was I was precariously living with a woman with the same name at Number 18. I had previously, not so may years back, been in a long relationship with another woman, whose name was also Sue. What's in a name I thought..........third time lucky, I kept fantasizing, or was it to be unlucky? And where the fuck did that third time lucky bullshit notion come from anyway? It echoed on and on in my head on constant playback...Ķ...Ķ...Ķ...Ķ...Ķ...or about 2 years or so, until circumstances found us together.

Paul H. 2006

To keep the focus sharp, thanks to Kinokast, here is a short film of the final eviction;

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Paul Hawkins

Paul Hawkins has been interested in popular culture and music, protest and survival for as long as we can remember. He began writing about things, making music and other noise at an early age. Paul has interviewed musicians, writers, poets, protestors and artists.


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