Scary stories from a lovely place
Most mornings I play tennis with Fifi at Hilltop Tennis in Brixton, on the edge of the magnificent Kingston Frost Park. Besides enjoying the view, the lovely weather and Fi’s consternation at losing to a very pregnant woman, I am also enjoying getting to know more of the people who call Brixton home. I have written many times of my stoic love for this eclectic suburb and my appreciation only continues to deepen.
Over the last couple of weeks a new face how popped into the scene. He is an old, white man who lives in an old, white van. I think he is homeless, besides the van of course. Besides its aging exterior the van is pretty kitted out. Inside the old, white man has a bed, a large pile of quality looking books (I’m sure I spied some Dickens) and other bits and pieces to make his old, white van his little piece of home. Usually he sits in the van and reads, other times he watches us play tennis (a little disconcerting at first) or he strolls around the edge of Kingston Frost, enjoying the splendid view. Depending on the health of the old, white van he also lies underneath it, Stephen-esque, prodding and poking, trying to fix this or that, or perhaps just wanting to feel industrious.
The old, white man is not a stranger to me. From the first morning that he appeared I knew I knew him. Some thought brought back two distinct moments of interaction I have shared with this old, white man. One day I was walking from home in Richmond (crappy Melville) to church in Auckland Park (student Melville). Unlike friendly Brixton, not many white people walk the streets of Melville and so I always stuck out somewhat. On this particular day I remember walking past another church in Melville and they were hosting a soup kitchen for homeless and poor people living in the area. The old, white man was himself a fairly conspicuous guest of the meal due to this demographics. Not many homeless people around Melville are old or white, but they are definitely there. He said hello to me as I walked past in the creepy way, the hitting-on kind of way.
The second interaction happened in New Melville. I was driving south on Main Rd and caught in the traffic that daily builds up alongside the Spar. I had somehow ended up with half my car in the lane and the other half on the median strip. I’m sure I wasn’t to blame. It was probably one of those lawless taxi drivers! Anyway as I sat in traffic waiting to move forward so I could get all of my car back in the lane the old, white man crossed the road in front of me. I immediately recognised him as the pervy guy from that Sunday afternoon. As he crossed he took in the ridiculous scene of the results of my poor driving and gave me a look that said something like “you are a stupid girl and can’t drive”. I was in one of those self-righteous moods and his look roused such anger within me that I wanted to get out of my car and politely and condescendingly explain the previous moments which had led my car to be perched where it was. But I didn’t. And he kept walking. And that was it.
It’s good to see the old, white man is still going strong and enjoying the same things about Brixton that I do, all from the backseat of his old, white van.