Brick lane

I’m walking out of work with a tipsy smirk

Four free beers and one I had to ditch

It’s compensation for us staying late on a pitch

That’s why we stay after on Friday in spite

But I’m determined to have an early night

I often boast that my commute is shorter than most

I live at the other end of Brick Lane

In one of those flats for the young and urbane

It’s a six minute stroll down a straight street

if I’m not held up by those I meet

Walking down Brick Lane each day

is like taking in a promenade play

Early mornings, Evenings and weekends
Each show views the street through an alternate lens

On weekends I’m woken by street sellers wailing

Walkways are warped with waves of tourists

Who haggle with stall vendors and vinyl purists

The early morning show is more subdued

Office workers cue for coffee and fidget with their phones 

And the odd night before straggler stagger to their homes

Evenings are manic

A maelstrom of meandering men and women

Walking, talking, drinking and grinning

Curry house representatives jostle for my attention

No thanks. I live just down there, I mention

But the offers keep coming

One free drink. One free poppadum

I’m moving on.

Two free drinks. Two poppadum

I’ve already gone

I pass the big blue eyed leaflet distributor on the corner

She’s bored, bald and beautiful

I’m distracted so I get caught by the kebab man

Excuse me sir, he says

Do you want to make a donation to the donor kebab fund?

He does this every day if I don’t dodge him

You got me yesterday I say

So I did mate. I’ll be on my way

And off he goes without delay

Stuck in his own Groundhog day

I’m halfway there

I step around the tiny shiny canisters of air

Thrown on the ground like discarded silverware

Sitting on the pavement is the man with a sign

It reads ‘Punch me in the face for five pounds’

He already looks like he’s done nine rounds

Hello gorgeous

Shouts the woman on crutches

She’s all dressed up. Not a hair out of place

But drug addiction takes its toll on her face

Buy me a drink I hear her ask

Not tonight I say I can’t

Fuck you then. You fucking prick

Gesturing with her walking stick

New shops on brick lane are sure signs of gentrification

They pop up and down in a constant rotation

Shops for bow ties, ukuleles and items I’d consider immaterial

And one café that just sells breakfast cereal

Just a few more strides and I’ll be home for the night

I walk by the phone booth

A man bursts out wearing a suit

I overhear his plea to a pedestrian plodding past

Please. He says. Have you got a few pence?

I really need to phone my wife.

My mobile has lost its battery life

The good Samaritan hands over their cash

The man slams the door closed with a crash

He’s a phony. I see him here every evening.

Is what he does thieving or merely deceiving?

I leave him to it. I’m not Intervening.

I’m a couple of feet from reaching my flat

When a woman in distress crosses my path

In broken English she shouts

Help. Hospital. Man bleeding

I hesitate at first but end up ceding

A cyclist stands with his bike in the street

His arm is bloodied like a raw piece of meat

I’ve a had an accident he says

Can you give me some cash for a cab

I need urgent assistance

The hospital is quite a distance

I’ve seen that very same gash before

Not two weeks ago outside my door

It’s been two weeks and you’re still hurt?

How many times since then have you hit pay dirt?

The man jumps on his bike and peddles out of sight

The woman looks shocked at how quickly the hurt man took flight

I’ve run the gauntlet and arrived at my destination

I’m thinking about my bed and sleep in anticipation

My flat mates stop me on the stairs

We’re off out for a drink. One of them declares

There’s a new bar open down the road

Why don’t you come with us he elbowed

I was determined to have an early night, stay in, sleep and dream

But after that dash home now I’m in the mood to blow off some steam

Let’s go, I say

We walk back out on the cobbled terrain

Who knows what’ll happen tonight on Brick lane.