Thursday, June 14, 2007
Nightdrive through LDN
I drive Dusk home late every Monday after studio and, through eyes screwed up with tiredness, it’s a ritual I’ve come to love. These days I often drive to and from Forward>> too. Sometimes, when the wrong MCs have turned up or too much mid range wobble gets dropped and now that the community vibe of FWD>> is intermittent (everyone’s got bookings), I find the night drive the most compelling part of the evening. What is it that’s so enthralling, so deeply absorbing, about a night drive through LDN?
In both cases I now have my route, so I scythe through the city, a pattern of habit liberating me. Traffic at these times is minimal and so I settle into a routine, a rhythm of turns and banks, starts… and.stops. As the beats flow, so does the car, out of phase but united in momentum. As the world rolls past the window, there’s a perfect balance struck between tranquillity and stimuli, change and continuity, edge and comfort.
The joy in night driving, like blogging, is in part the freedom. Accelerating over the peak of a dark, decaying flyover at 2am is an arc of liberation, a celebration of a brief escape from the gravity of life’s heavy daily cycles. While the world sleeps, your stereo blazes. Beats are verbally chopped, plans hatched and dreams ignited. But the night drive is also a joy of observation: of your surroundings, of a city most alive and vivid when it should be dormant.
There’s the joys of catching some kids tagging bins. Bins? Can’t you find something more serious to make a statement on? There’s the girls traipsing back barefoot from some wine bar, high heels in one hand, boyfriend in the other. There’s the guy who ducks down the alley way when you pass, because, like, he wasn’t trying to nick cars… much. There’s the drunk fat bloke outside the Irish pub, gut out, bolsh on, taking on all comers in a four-way brawl. There’s the guys just standing about, at 1am. Just… standing… about. Who are these people that appear in a succession of fleeting 50mph moments, before the momentum closes our door to their lives? Who are they and what are their stories?
Last Friday around 2am, I was clipping down a dark suburban artery. Out my right window comes into view a man. He’s black, looks like he’s in his early 30s and has been out on the town for the night: nice jeans, proper shoes and a designer white shirt. And he’s running. Running for his life. He’s running so hard he’s nearly bent double, parallel to the ground like he’s perpetually flinging himself over the finishing line of the grim reapers’ 100m challenge. 1st prize: his life back. Then suddenly he clips his shoe and piles into the pavement, his shoulder taking the full force of his body being ground into the concrete. He crumples, drags himself up, his shoulder full of grit, and continues to run; run for his life.
It’s over in a split second – the car passes him quickly. I’m left aghast, looking past him to see who or what is chasing him. But there’s nothing, nothing for miles but the dark suburban artery as it trickles into the shadows. I will never, ever know now why that man was running or who he was running from. The night drive just swept me onwards.