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Brixton Hill.

On Monday I wasn't feeling so good to start with and at the picket I overdid it a bit - by the time we were back on the underground I was shattered.

A night's sleep didn't help at all but on Tuesday, Robyn needed to get to a funeral in Brixton and didn't want to take the Tube again because I find it so tough. 

I drove but I thought I'd make it easy for myself by taking the motorway and the A3; it may be the long way round but it's quick.

Not today it wasn't - it was blocked for most of the way and I found it a real struggle, stopping and starting. It took two and a quarter hours but we made it.

I'd intended to just have a sleep in the car when we got there - I don't know Robyn's friend or her late husband and I didn't fancy a two hour funeral in an evangelical church.

I dropped Robyn off and parked but by that time I was already in a state - I was feeling sick, someone had rammed a screwdriver behind my left eye and was jiggling it about and my back and legs hurt.

Faced with being cramped into my car for a couple of hours I did a foolish thing - I decided to go for a walk round Brixton.

I'm not sure what happened to it - the last time I was here it was a completely different place.

Now, it's all cranes and building sites.

'The Frontline' isn't there any more - it's all Art Galleries, fashionable restaurants and building sites.

In case any of my readers don't know, Brixton used to be London's Harlem - a cultural and entertainment centre for Afro-Caribbean people.

These days it's all different; there's some neat, safe graffiti sponsored by the council;

Don't get me wrong - there are improvements, it isn't all bad. Although I don't really understand why Lambeth council is building itself a new Town Hall.

The graffiti is quite nice;

I walked down Brixton Hill (rather slowly) I liked 'The Brixton Orchard'; a small plot of land planted with fruit trees by local volunteers. There are spring bulbs now and wild flowers waiting to sprout in the summer.

Some of the trees were already in bloom;

But as I came down to Windrush Square, I saw the new Black Archive Centre with it's expensive and rather irrelevant public art (Floating Dice - why?) and thought about the irony that this much needed centre has arrived at a time when young black people can't actually afford to live in Brixton any more.

I wandered into Electric Avenue - the first public space in Britain to be lit by electric light. The market is much smaller than it used to be and the shops have changed a lot.

You can still get some fruit and veg;

I walked round the Avenue, I do it every time I'm there;

There's some more graffiti;

Electric Mansions is a bit rundown, I have a horrible feeling there's going to be a big redevelopment soon;

I wandered around Brixton Village and it's now being cleaned up. Lot's of the archway shops are closed, the radical bookshops have gone.

Leroy still says;

I walked past a group of street food stalls - Ethiopian, Japanese, just one Stall Selling Goat Curry, Ackee and Salt Fish; Jamaican food. It's not my kind of thing but it's an important part of the culture of the area.

Sushi In Brixton......really?

It's very different these days. Next to Popeye  'Elektric Food' is offering 'Steamed Quinoa', for goodness sake. 

There was a still a stall selling herbal remedies direct from Jamaica; Aloe Vera and Ginger.

I'm not sure what 'Root's Tonic' for £20 was!

Bon Marché now hosts big chains in it's units. Morleys has become very neat and tidy.

There are mobile phone shops and fashionable trainer shops.

I guess Brixton is safe for 'Hipsters' now.

You can put on your skinny jeans and walk to a trendy café and order your skinny latté.

You still see a few elderly black people but not many young people.

Where has Brixton gone to?

It's gone to Croydon and it's going to be a while before the Hipsters arrive there.

Brixton Hill isn't very steep but I didn't feel like walking back up it - I caught a bus.

I really liked this one;

Somewhere there's a mural of David Bowie by the same artist but I didn't look for it. His links to the borough are fairly tenuous and after he left at 6 years old I suspect he never came back.

All the same, the mural has become something of a shrine, which puzzles me.

The problem is that the generations that could afford to buy houses or flats have been retiring and selling up. The youngsters simply can't afford the mortgages or the rents.

Lambeth Council doesn't have the money to build new council housing so young people have no opportunity of living in the Borough where they grew up.

And all the 'right on' graffiti in the world doesn't make up for the fact that Brixton is in the process of being ethnically cleansed.

I got back to my car and had a sleep while the sun came out.

This was the place Bob Marley came to, to find a bigger audience for his music.

When Nelson Mandela came to Britain he came to Brixton and tens of thousands of people blocked the streets to see him. They did the same for Muhammad Ali.

I can't help feeling that part of the heart of London is being ripped out.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Contact me: [email protected]

This post first appeared on Help Me Sort Out St Peter's!, please read the originial post: here

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Brixton Hill.


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