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And so now in these last days, in these end-of-the-road days, these falling-apart days, I go for one last walk in the old hunting grounds, in the decaying party zones. Everything was all so long ago. Now there is a new batch, ready for this, to take our vacated spaces. I imagine some are just the same as us when we were younger: wide-eyed, trusting, scared, expectant and naive. I guess with experience comes a weary cloak of familiarity. The ability to second guess the surroundings goes in tandem with the loss of the essence of surprise. So I see in these youngsters a brilliant non-knowledge, as if they havenít had the chance to have been fucked over yet, to have seen London and to have gone through more than just the imagined version of London. Still with their wide eyes. Still in their first few months. I know they think itís all really big, that all the roads are really big, all the tunnels are really big. They have no history to attempt to better; nothing to attempt to top. They are in the process of making that experience, and chiselling it out of nothing and of wrestling with the novelty of the roughness: crowds outside Brixton tube. The touts/beggars doing a crowd-creep. ĎRealí jagged Cockney accents. Oyster barriers. Finding a different way to work when the trains are broken. Getting heckled by coke-head tramps. Heart beating in unusual streets with just some ambiguous footsteps for company. That last one is what the authentic memory is. Those stretches that are a secret cave for your timeless perfect portions but then flood away while youíre doing other things Ė the ones where the mundane reality usurps the magic. Some of these kids reek of it; their smiles betray it. So I sense the moment to slink off Ė quietly fade away with no fanfare, no big deal. Iíve laid my own foundations, as the invisible moorings on a murky river I will dredge at other times, when the sun is not on my back. And I know also that, for a brief moment, everything spread out in front of me, and I let it slip away.

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© Copyright 2016 John Maher