One is not just born in these streets, one is born to these streets. Fathered by suburbia. Mothered by the wind that blows through its tracks; its warmth hugs us, its chill a harsh and tough love, its whisper an educator sharing the messages and knowledge of the street. Far from the bright lights of the city this place is beautiful and bleak, this place is dangerous and homely, this place is a cookie jar of culture, this place is… England.
The cracking of a knuckle in a tight fist, the look in the eye as you walk past, these streets are charged and there is a rumble underfoot. It echoes a football chant, a rowdy street party, a welcoming parade, a beggar with just a guitar and a smile, it echoes a mob in despair. The sound is drenched by the rain that falls today, yesterday, tomorrow; drops so small that they would seem insignificant but together they unite to silence all but there own clap. We must find shelter.
Warmth rising from a carpet familiar with a thousand fluids, a thousand soles. The pub door swings open to a recognisable scene. The world champion pool player. The bloke content with page three and a pint. The gaggle of giggling girls. The pack of underaged brutes. And you, the target of everyones stares, taking in the smell of beers, wines and spirits, floating in the air with the ghost of second hand smoke. Stepping inside was a relief, stepping out again is a relief.
Freedom. Oh how beautiful is freedom but where is freedom? On the long surveilled road home, behind the circumstantial bars that secure the estate perimeter or on the rooftop of a hollowed out launderette as we stand high, spread our wings, take a leap of faith and dare to be different? We all bear a frown between smiles, the lines an epitaph to our struggles and our strengths.
So as we walk to each our own destinations, we walk together. We love, we create, we fight, we fly, we stand and at the end of it all we fall asleep in the cradle of our street. Only now do we see the bright lights and we know, we know, that one day we will shine with them but until then we continue our journey in this familiar place. This place that we hate. This place that we love. This Is England.