While he writes, I feel as if he is drawing me; or not drawing me, drawing on me – drawing on my skin – not with the pencil he is using, but with an old-fashioned goose pen, and not with the quill end but with the feather end. As if hundreds of butterflies have settled all over my face, and are softly opening and closing their wings.
But underneath that is another feeling, a feeling of being wide-eyed awake and watchful. It’s like being wakened suddenly in the middle of the night, by a hand over your face, and you sit up with your heart going fast, and no one is there. And underneath that is another feeling still, a feeling like being torn open; not like a body of flesh, it is not painful as such, but like a peach; and not even torn open, but too ripe and splitting open of its own accord.
Good times for a change / See, the luck I’ve had / Can make a good man / Turn bad / So please please please / Let me, let me, let me /Let me get what I want /This time / Haven’t had a dream in a long time / See, the life I’ve had / Can make a good man bad / So for once in my life / Let me get what I want / Lord knows, it would be the first time / Lord knows, it would be the first time. The Smiths: Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want
Being a street photographer is a wonderful thing. Not only does it put a smile on your face at any time, as if you don’t manage to come across as a harmless and lovely person you may encounter hostility or aggression. But it also puts you in lots of situations in which you have to interact with people, with strangers. You need to be prepared for that people who notice you taking pictures of them or subjects which are not sights may react on you. Such happened with these kids who live very nearby my own home. They were watching me through the window taking photographs of their street before they left their home not quite knowing whether they wanted my attention and be photographed or whether better making fun of me. So they were partially posing and partially running away; a wonderful game for both sides and some audience passing by. And it gave me some candid images of these kids.
Everything smells of parting. I am walking through London’s streets with the same passion I walked through them when I came here but can’t help thinking: For how long am I going through these streets? Is this the end of an unrequited love to a city that has been inspiring but never very welcoming? A city that has put every stumbling block in my way possible? That kept me thinking from the beginning: Can I stay here? Will I find a way of living? And has never had an easy answer to these questions.
And if I leave, will I find the same in other cities’ streets? A man, walking through an urban forest with a guitar just like Bob Dylan? And this is just one example…
This is Kentish Town. This is where I live. Just to the left is Kentish Town tube station; the only station I know which has been decorated with artificial cactuses inside giving it an awkward-cute touch. Next to the station is a shelter with seats underneath on which you usually find people sitting without obvious reason, killing their time, staring into nowhere. At night semi-dodgy blokes hang around whenever there is a gig in the nearby HMV Forum, crying out the name of the band playing, trying to sell tickets. Opposite is a haberdashery shop, a wonderful shop with corners and niches in which you can find all sorts of imaginable and unimaginable little things if only you are interested in needlework; one of those shops that miraculously survives the fact that hardly any article costs more than a few pennies or pounds and few people come to buy. – There is absolutely nothing special about Kentish Town High Road, except perhaps that it leads down to Camden which enjoys the youth from around the world attracted by hundreds of shops selling clothes in alternative style. So at least, Kentish Town is spared hordes of excited, noisy teenagers looking out for cool London…
When I came to London I was working in a London West End theatre as a bar maid. The bar had huge windows to Shaftesbury Avenue and Chinatown from which I could watch Soho’s colourful mixture of people passing buy. At times there were Chinese lanterns put up and every Saturday afternoon a group of singing Hare Krishna people was walking down the street.
I was working with a pretty, long-haired girl from Spain who struggled to speak English but we very much warmed up to each other. One day she put her earplugs in my ears and played Neil Young’s Like a Hurricane. I was totally unprepared for the wave of emotions the song triggered. This was one of the happiest moments in my life. I still could cry about the lyrics.
This is where the world of Edith Bergfory begins; and hers is a bohemian world. I wonder: how long can one remain outside normality, can remain in between, can remain keeping life open? For how long does this feel of creativity and inspiration – and when does the hunger for peace becomes overwhelming? Is it possible to know where to belong to in a bohemian world?