A super piece of Creative writing from a learner on the Creative Writing course with tutor Lucy Popescu
Saturday Morning in Finsbury Park by Lidmila Mamaeva
It is a Saturday morning and the sun rays penetrating through the curtains woke her up just before eight o’ clock. The radio clock softly murmurs French news, making her feel at home in this shared flat at Mersers road in Islington. Céline decided that she will go on a morning walk before meeting her flat mate for lunch. Celine opened the curtains in her bedroom, breathed in fresh, cool air and stayed there for a few moments looking down on the street which was not busy. It was a bright glorious morning with intense blue sky and golden warm sunlight raising above the roof tops.
There were occasional cars, bike riders on the road and lonely pedestrians harried towards Holloway road. She still felt new in London despite that her move to the second flat four months ago, after leaving her first rented flat near Victoria station. It was too expensive and she had rented it over the internet for one week only, just to have a place where she can stay after arrival from Paris. Céline admitted that locals here in Islington were a different crowd in comparison to the area where her office was. She was trying to establish the exact difference between the crowd at Earls Court area and Islington. Certainly, here were more people from Turkey and Greece and Africa, according to the range of shops along Seven Sisters road. She liked this road and she felt a part of it as people there represented different parts of the world and they seemed to feel at ease with each other.
Here, in Islington she enjoys shopping in small groceries that belong to Greek, Moroccan, Tunisian, Chinise and Turkish owners. She likes to stroll along shelves filled with tins, glass jars, and plastic bags with strange labels in Arabic, Korean, English and god knowns languages. It was not easy to navigate through tins and preserves and she had asked people at the till about the food that she has chosen and they were happy to explain the taste, the ingredients and the best way of cooking it or saying that you can eat it straight from the tin. She likes their friendliness, strange aromas, customers carefully choosing and commenting products in those shops and familiarity between hosts and regulars.
She took the first bus that arrived at the bus stop opposite the Nags Head market knowing that all buses will pass Finsbury Park. The bus had a few passengers and she sat near the window, looking at the area that she was travelling through. The sun shine highlighted smudges on the glass and she felt its warmth on her face. Both sides of Seven Sisters road were densely occupied by small convenience stores, shops selling fabrics and haberdashery, or cheap household items, competing with Pound Land shops and alike, barbers shops with windows covered with photographs of haircuts, hair extensions, plaited creations, small cafes with loud pompous names, fast food restaurants, advertising the best quality kebabs for £2.99 including rice or salad, or chips and soft drinks to wash it down. No alcohol was advertised there as the area had intentionally decided to avoid drinkers and disarrays.
Stalls already displayed boxes and one pound plastic balls filled with tangerines and grapes, purple passion fruits, pomegranates, bright yellow shiny persimmons with green collars, tick skinned papayas and shiny dotted avocadoes and butternut squash. Their spectacular appearance overpowered common potatoes, onions, cucumbers and occasional mushrooms.
Celine glanced at the shop windows offering wedding outfits in bold colours with richly embroidered tops decorated with shiny small beads. These two shops were like pioneers representing Fonthill road a fairly well known street where every shop was filled with incredible variety of women’s dresses, men’s suits, shoes and children’s clothes at amazingly low prices. Every shop mentioned the retail price and this attracted many customers to this area from London and from Africa. Seriously, you could see small groups of women chatting fast and excitedly in different dialects, pushing huge heavy suitcases towards the underground station. They could easily be mistaken for local residents but it were their animated faces that could not hide a mixture of amazement, shyness, curiosity and sense of accomplished tasks that labelled them out. Their dresses with unusual combination of bright colours, or batik fabric, exotic headgears and ornamentally braided hair remained Celine of rare, exotic birds who landed for a short break but instead of taking off would disappear in the deep underground system.
The bus passed a row of mannequins whose small bottoms in tight jogging pants of different designs were facing the street and crowds. The outfits were cheap and garish but Celine liked this proud display of the perfect buttocks, shameless as some women would commented, but desirable by those who were not fortunate to have ideal proportions. 20 meters separated this corner and Finsbury mosque with its open gate to a small confined space. The united church across the road occupied a well maintained building, in the art deco style, that earlier hosted a cinema theatre. The church offered free entrance, prayers, will power sessions that helped to change your life, give up smoking and find a new purpose of life.
Celine got off near the underground entrance, it was under the low sturdy steel bridge. The opposite wall was covered by a five meter long, well designed poster with a beauty wearing a red mini dress in a provocative pose promising the best deals on Internet use, from Talk Talk.
The old fashioned grey stone entrance to Finsbury Park was a hundred metres away. She passed the entrance and started walking towards the main well maintained alley. A vibration in her pocket prompted her to pick up her mobile to look at arrival of new messages.
She did not notice a watchful youth sitting on the bench near the entrance, dressed in a teenagers’ favourite dark hoodie. He looked at Celine noticing her curly brown hair, skinny jeans and woolly red scarf around her neck. His conversation was short: “ Hey, there is one with red scarf, she got an iPhone, looks new. Going up”
Celine walked fast passing the tennis courts on her left side with a few players and alongside runners, who used the central part of alley. Their appearance at the first glance matched the habit of London’s residents to dress down during weekends, the desire to forget the job and its formalities. The runners were different ages, some preferred to run alone, others run in pairs juggling effort to breathe in and to maintain a conversation and this never failed to amaze Celine. There were rarely a group of three or four runners. Those were a family unit with parents setting an example for young children or couples naively believing in existence of such group sport. Expensive sport wear and fancy sport shoes more likely indicated fashion conscious young and successful but rather inexperienced runners. They tried to hide their shortness of breath by taking more breaks and slowly descending to a walking speed.
Celine reached the top of the alley and now was turning to her favourite part of the park. She loved the old trees with heavy crowns of branches. Some trees had lost all leaves and looked slim and naked demonstrating intricate design of branches. The most majestic probably a couple of hundred year old trees retained leaves and now their colours competed in displaying daring colours from green to orange, flame fed, bright yellow and pale gold. She stood on the bridge with a dark oval sign and white letters saying that 400 years ago this canal was open to bring fresh water from Herefordshire to London. The canal was not wider than four meters with cold, clear water and long green underground plants following the stream. The morning sun shine in every dewdrops and the green lawn was sparkling like a huge mirror on rising folds of green. She continued her walk until she reached the gates, near Manor House station. Here, she wanted to take a few photographs of very peculiar arrangements for dogs and their owners. It was not the first time when she observed that a small round open terrace had plastic chairs with people sitting and listening to a lady wearing a bright red coat. Near every chair there was a dog. The behaviour of those attenders was different as some were sitting near their owners close to their legs, another dogs were laying under the chairs and looking at passing by people, pretending that they were bored. The dogs were different in size, colours and types from a very miniature to large strong dogs with long silky far. Sometimes dog owners were trying to make their pets do what the lady in the red coat asked, but not everybody was successful in controlling their dogs. The pets had willpower and were not used to following commands and so it was a free spectacle for walkers.
Celine focused on small old lady with a white puddle who was sitting right in the corner because the pair was adorable and loving. Celine could not understand what happened but an invisible force snatched her mobile and a few strands of her hair. It was so sudden, painful and shocking and it took a moment for her to realise that somebody snatched her phone. She saw a small figure in a dark hooded top and the boy aged may be 14 or 16 was pedalling very quickly down the alley, with her phone. She run after him, screaming” Give it back to me! It is mine!” He did not turn or slowed down. It was a well-rehearsed scenario. Celine was shaken and continue to run after him with her tears streaming down her face. The team of boys in white rugby uniforms who were playing on the filed in front of her heard her scream. The trainer a young man who was holding an oval ball ready to pass t at the centre of the field, He turned his head and with one powerful movement and precision send the ball in front of the bike.
The next moment the bike rider found himself on the ground near the bike. He was trying to get up but the decided not to move as he saw a black Labrador who run very quickly and very keenly towards him. The running dog freed himself from the astonished owner, who was left in the queue for the next session of the Saturday school for dogs.
The teenage screamed: “Hey, Man take him off me. Where is the police? Help me!” Celine was surprised by the quick development of the scene and now was standing near the bike and the teen breathing heavily from her short run and looking directly into the eyes of the thief. He was truly terrified of the dog and pointed at her mobile that was laying one metre away from the place of incident. The passers-by, the runners and dog owner formed a small circle around the teen and somebody already was dialling to the police. People smiled and looked at the rugby trainer who was coming to see the result of his try. Boys were running behind him, cheering and shouting and smiling at this unexpected turn of the training match. The Labrador was still excited and really intended to have a closer sniff , but the owner was quick in securing a leash to drag him to the school.