You’ve met the tinkers and door callers but the other character in this story isn’t a man or a woman. It’s not human. It’s made of asphalt, tarmac. Battered by skid marks and splattered with blood.
Tottenham High Road is as straight as an arrow. Hurtling to the heart of somewhere else. People just call it the A10. A functional A to Z route with no pit stops and yet there’s more drama here than any soap opera.
The A10 lurks at the end of our road. It’s unpredictable and neversleeps. Each time I walk from Seven Sisters tube I have to be on high alert. Thinking – what’s next?
One night I came out of the tube after a long days work. The road was quiet when stepped off the kerb. It’s funny, there were no cars – just a wide and lonely road. Only an African guy watches me leave the station with a coy look. It’s funny how you only have to get a glance of the eyes to know you’re in trouble.
A few minutes later the sound of a strangers footsteps trail my path like an exocet. It’s dark and yes - there’s nowhere to run.
Then the voice comes.
“Hey whitey I can see you,” Whitey?
I’ve never been called whitey before. This is ridiculous, it’s not the seventies – it’s 2003! It comes again.
“Hey whitey, I like your bag whitey, I’m going to take your bag whitey”.
Shit. It suddenly felt like I had to walk 500 miles with this guy on my trail. But I keep going and he’s still there behind me. Paranoia races. I’m going to get stabbed and not live to tell the tale. What I am going to do die like a dog. Like one of my mates who got mugged after throwing himself to the floor screaming ‘Take what you want’. It didn’t work for him and there was no way I was going to try that one. I think right!!!!!!! I’ve never punched anyone in my life but I’m going have to make my mark. Piss in the snow, put a window through. Say I’m no push over. I spin round and give him a long hard stare.
The guy looks surprised. Intrigued by my moment of balls. He crunches his empty can of Coke in his hand in indifference. Then toses it in the gutter.
I should point out there’s a fine line with starring people out. You just want to say I’m here but not provoke a declaration of war. I spin back round away from him. Head down ready for warp speed at any moment.
The guy’s step quickens. Now there’s fire in his belly as he bares down on me.
“You’re the oppressor whitey…100 years of slavery thanks to you. You ordered the slaveships to take my brothers. The bags mine whitey.”
Fucking hell now I’m framed for the entire history of slavery like I built the ship and plotted the shipping route by hand. And what’s the deal with the bag? It’s only a Tesco’s one.
He’s shouting more and more irrational now.
“YOU! YOU HEAR ME!….DO YOU???!!!”
Too fucking right I hear you. I’m shooting along like a rocket out of a bottle. But still - he’s closing in nearer and nearer. I can almost feel his breath when..
A different voice. ‘Hey man, how’s it going. You pass the driving test?’
A car has stopped and now our nutter is having a gentle chinwag with his mate like nothings happening. Heart still beating like a big drum. I turn the corner and leg it. Not stopping till I hear the chub lock on my front door. I’m praying the slave man made it through the highway code as then he won’t be on the street anymore. Then I think, hold on, he might drive me down in cold blood. Fuck! I just hope that I won’t get the blame for any other misdemeanours.