Tame eels in London Town

bethnal green, london

A dark caterpillar weaved through Bethnal Green, revealing an eruption of life – as one tends to find in even the most unassuming corners in London.

Offbeat ceramic fair? Hoards of bespeckled 30 and 60 somethings awash in knitted garments. Basement photography exhibit on circus life? Boxy college students pointing avidly. Bar dedicated to KGB-style service and cocktails? 30 minute wait.

Primary-colored houseboats magnetically lined the edges of Regent’s Canal. Some smoked from their slender pipes, adding more grayness to the sky, others sunk into the water as if their batteries needed recharging. A twiggy blonde sat on the top of his abode in a miniature director’s chair, smoking and sipping wine to sultry French tunes emitting from a small 90’s boombox.

Rain trickled down, reflecting a baritone of city lights. Under a now-suspended chess set, a balding, woolen man has found his temporary shelter. The jingle of the shifting pieces accentuated by the treble of cyclists’ bells screeching along like piercing morse code.

I was a thread running through the tail end of rush hour, nearly catching my forehead on brick overpasses or sliding near the canal’s edge after taking a corner too quick.

Packs of oncoming commuters – only noticeable by their bodies radiating yellow in the darkness – shot out of sidestreets like pinballs. French bulldogs emerged from every footpath, adding a comedic sense of ridiculousness to the chaos of the scene.

A short-circuit lamp transformed into a strobe light, freezing still shots of my body’s gestures on the sidewalk, an exercise crime scene.

Mind your head, mind your toes, mind your side.

Minutes later, the sky cleared. Moisture hung in the smoggy air but with the cold it felt deceivingly fresher. The sun had set leaving behind a trace of sublime light in the corners of the sky.

In London there is no uncovering the unknown. The discoveries have been unearthed and broadcasted. What is left is the uncovering of a perfectly timed glance. Or a stranger’s unconscious, submarine movements that bask you in an entire life lived.

Mind yer head.