It is sunny and warm. We all note how that is worth noting, with a sigh. But brush off our English thoughts of climate injustice and act like its just another gorgeous day in the capital. My friend appears in cut-off jeans and a white blouse her face would light up the dingiest gloom she has what is technically known as: ‘a sunny disposition’. She sits down opposite me and I see her Jackie-O sunglasses close-up.
We are sat outside Cafe Oto, a hang-out for cool cats that hosts experimental jazz in the evenings. I’m drinking mint tea made with the actual leaves still in the mug. My friend dumps a brown paper bag on the table bursting with ripe cherries. She got them at the market round the corner, we speculate where they’re from – Turkey or Spain or somewhere? ‘Dalston Cherries ‘ doesn’t quite scan despite today’s mediterranean backdrop. Trees of any kind are lacking in this part of town it’s all construction sites, poundshops, hipster bars, dust and bikes. I like to visit but I wouldn’t swap my leafy suburb for all the cherries in the world.
Do you feel – my friend begins, spitting out a cherry stone in between words – ground down by it? She’s referring to my ‘situation’, the one that seems to have been going on forever and still has forever to go. It is a weird mixture of kafkaesque bureaucracy and earthy pain and, well, that could describe most human phenomena couldn’t it. I’m nothing special. Just another cog in the wheel. Another cherry in the bag. But yes I reply, it’s horrible not being able to say or write what I want. I hesitate, searching for the right word. I suppose there’s some kind of poetry in not knowing how to describe the feeling of not being allowed to describe the feeling of… so it goes on.
The conversation turns to other things: her children, our plans for the summer, the way that I admit my suburban idyll is accompanied by the constant low hum of the North Circular Road nearby. That I’d miss that if I moved. My friend goes over to her bike that she deliberately sprayed with shitty gold-coloured paint to make it look cheap and un-stealable. I watch her dive into the traffic, the remains of the cherries squashing a dark stain into the inside of her panniers.
It’s one of those rare, illuminous life-giving days when I think, no matter how bad things may seem, everything is going to be all right.