By Melina Filippidou
The pulse of Brixton
A year ago the only connection I had to Brixton was The Clash. Next year, when I’m thinking of Brixton, The Clash song will be the last thing in a long list. In order to be close to school, I moved in a cute place 10 minutes away, with a magical view of the local prison.
I feel quite proud about living here. Under the smells of fast food chains and car emissions there’s pure character. There’s the pulse of a neighborhood that stood up and then stood out. Brixton got punished for the multi-ethnicity that it’s now praised for. During the ‘80s, when the local community was getting harassed and violated by police forces, the investigations concluded that the police was “institutionally racist”. That’s not of course the shocking part. What is shocking is that after that, the police continued the attacks until the late ‘90s. They just couldn’t get enough.
And twenty years later, as I walk through the farmer’s market to Brixton village, I see all the local shops in the old arcades gradually running out of business, competing with all these new (but vintage) fancy places where the cool kids hang out, and I can’t help but wonder if this is progress or just another form of violation. And if so, is it an inevitable consequence of an ever-growing city or it’s just me seeing the glass half-empty?
I remember the first time I stepped my foot in Brixton, for my interview day at SCA. Once I got off the station, I was welcome by the iconic weed smell that lingers around the road, and then I got pushed by a guy with red headphones who apparently couldn’t wait to spend another day of his miserable life. I was too excited about being there but I was the only one. Unless we count the tireless preachers outside Ritzy, who I swear I don’t understand a word they’re saying. Maybe it’s because they speak the language of God. That first day I freaked out that KFC was so busy at 9am, now I freak out when it’s not. And then I reached St Matthew’s Church, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. I was not at all ready for my big day, my stomach was on a strike, my mouth was completely dry and my eyes were burning. But I did what I had to do, and a few hours later I was back on that green grass drinking cocktails with Steve. My eyes were still burning but I could clearly see myself living at Brixton.