DON’T BE CROSS MR KING, IT’S CHRISTMAS by ACF Wilson

Punk Noir Magazine

Gasometers converted into “apartments.” ” Luxury” obviously. Iconic flats to the right or left depending on which way you’re facing, demolished. Chai and wrap alfresco shack style dining experience where the taxi drivers caff once was. Pub now a bar. Bar now a coffee shop. 2nd hand bookshop selling candles now. Vases and picture frames instead of the record shop. Not all bad though. No sad creatures down the tunnels, selling themselves. No creeping cars and opportunist dealers. No longer the first port of call for runaways from Doncaster and Aberdeen. From his balcony he could see the old shed site. Idling Class 55s still lingered there in his mind. The one with the window frames painted white. The regiments and racehorse named ones. ‘St Paddy’ his favourite. The first he took notice of. No Deltic throb anymore, beautiful throaty noise when they roared into action. That made him sad not angry. Was never a ” spotter”. Honestly he wasn’t! An “enthusiast “. A big difference as he explained to his wife.That was when this was a council flat. No one wanted to live here back then and out of all the people on this side he was the only one out in all hours on his balcony. Looked like a giant model train set from here on the 13th floor. Not unlucky for him when Thatchers ” buy your council property” deal came in. Earning enough then him and the wife. She’s in Eastbourne now. We won’t mention her again. Now his neighbours have all changed. No rip roaring Bushmill fuelled Paddy’s night sessions, Power whiskey on a Saturday sometimes with big John D across the landing. Hands like shovels, heart as big as Donegal. Out up Northampton way now last he heard. Cards used to arrive each Xmas but not this imminent one. Missing that St Francis Xavier heavy symbolic shtick. Across the landing now friendly enough. Seen them manoeuvring the baby buggy into the lift. Lifts that work better now at least. They nod hello when they see him but like the area itself they’re guarded. Reacting to their surroundings. John D used to have a fry up down at Lil’s Caff. He’d see him down there sometimes. Couldn’t imagine sharing a craft beer or a smoothie with this new lot. Good job all this nostalgia is in your head Mr King, he chides himself. ” Nostalgia’s not what it used to be” was one of his favourite lines. Some things best kept to yourself. Not a secret exactly but this place was on the market. Final straw for him was that new block to the left. Shiny black brick Not the main problem though that brick. It jutted out left. Can’t see the old clock no more. Can’t see the top of the Pancras hotel. Got a good view of some bloke on a treadmill at six in the morning though. ‘GYM’ in huge neon on the rooftop advertising it’s intrusion into his headspace.He’d had two viewings already pre-Christmas. He could see them looking at his four cards and no decs, feeling sorry for him. Not bothered what you think matey. He’s away in the New Year, Mr King away from the Cross. Not Northampton though. Not Eastbourne either now you mention it.