Saturday, 3 October 2009

End of.

below or above, Southgate Tube Station was always a trip for a suburban teenager in the 1970s and ‘80s. Surfacing from the Piccadilly line entailed a vertiginous sweep up chocolately escalators, scattered with cigarette ends, and past lights emanating a dreamy glow that was seemingly from another century. Neared from street-level, it was even more delirious. At a certain moment the spinning-top peeked around the corner, pulsating from its non-stop roundabout. It was a circular beacon, with an electro-bauble on the top and dotted with myriad entrance-exits in between boutique shops that were not ever for the likes of pocket-moneyed me. Its seductive curve was mirrored on the other side of the bus lanes in the signaged-for-eternity shops of the Parade. Everything about it was transporting – and, for me, it was always the nearby lodestar of different sites of pleasuring: the swimming pool, first, then the cinema, then Soul and Rock and Roll Nights at the Royalty Ballroom, and finally, Our Price Records and punk gigs (compacting with the underground itself, one was by Moorgate and the Tube Disasters, who assaulted the audience with a pig’s head). Arnos Grove, by contrast, was sobering and, with no other buildings in the vicinity, a marooned planet. I think of it only as a glorious disc under vast suburban skies to be contemplated in a state of melancholy during the always too long sojourns at the bus stop opposite, the dazzle of the West End now far up the line, home a humdrum terminus.