This time it happened on my way to Broadway Market, where it has become my habit to go on free Saturdays in search of food and inspiration. Without the need for dress code, guest list or bouncers, without door, barrier or gate, this little corner of Hackney, for a few hours each Saturday, suddenly refines itself down to a purity of customer profile to rival a hall of mirrors. The phenomenon promises such industry insights I'm always surprised not to see rows of fashion retailers, notebook in hand, trying, like me, to identify the systems of attraction and filtration in the hope of reproducing the effect elsewhere. But since I myself - we ourselves - fit the profile, I realise, perhaps they, like me, are effortlessly incognito. Perhaps, indeed, there is no market, merely a weekly congregation come to see what passes as such.
Under the circumstances of the difference in agenda here I can't provide a link, but those who follow my shop windows blog will know that my aim there is to promote excellence in windows design. It's not a cynical aim: you could say that giving tips to others is detrimental to my business in the long term, since the more fitters know the less they need my advice.
I now feel it's mistaken, but cynical it's not. I believe in it. When I work, in my capacity as window consultant, I beleive that it's the responsibility of the shop window to set an example to the world. I believe that the window's the truth that the street would aspire to if the street could only aspire; that the window's an amelioration of the street, offering an encouragement to the passer by to investigate, to realise their fantasies.
But what I've been encountering recently you might call an aspiration in the other direction, the street proposing transactions that the shop window would struggle to meet. I begin to wonder whether it's the street that is in fact itself a window, but for some reason that may be connected to the equivalence of different kinds of light, one that generally evades our glance.
Something that I'm beginning to suspect is that at the times when suddenly it opens up, if that is the word, or perhaps inverts itself, so that the props are on the outside, or the invitations the world, something which might usually be passed off as a coincidence may be at work. Whether the graffiti artist meant to draw a second, real one above when he tagged his crown below I don't know, but certainly that was the result. Whether the God Worshippers allowed themselves to hope that the time would indeed come, or whether they know that it has, I can't say, but is anyway beside the point.
I don't yet know what it is that I am tracking down, beyond that there are certain forces that align themselves at certain times and in some way alter certain spaces, draw things in them into a new configuration. It is my feeling that the phenomenon is new, but it may simply be that I never noticed it before. Whether or not it's spreading, and if so, whether it will ever take over space in its entirety, I can't say, but the purpose of the present blog is to keep some track of the process as it unfolds.
For that reason, putting my visit to the market on hold, I headed round behind the Worshippers. Interestingly, a little way behind, the same gasometer elevates another location in a parallel way, noticeable only once the process had been opened up n the other side. For the Empress of London coach company to share the logo of a graffiti artist from the other side may not in itself be strange, but the tower connecting them created further intimations impossible to ignore.
Between waiting in a warehouse for the afterlife and keeping a fleet for those wanting to depart, that there should be a symbol in common needn't be significant, but then for it to materialise had to be, and I found myself at the market what I would have described at first as unable to engage without knowing why.
It's not uncommon for gas storage facilities to leak, catch, explode. They can flatten whole neighbourhoods in a flare, char all that remains.
That this was happening as I watched was the first thought that I reached for, that I was aware of it only in this abstract, distant way the result of the shock. If it's said of the drowning that they relive their lives in reverse to the beginning, for sufferers of the contrary element, perhaps the opposite is true, and I was living on unaware towards the end.
I was wracking my brains for something I might remember in the way of a clue, some sudden pain, a flash, heat that would account for the feeling, but there was none. Another possibility would be a heaviness or weightlessness. Gas asphyxiation could also surely count as the opposite of drowning. I sought on the faces of others confirmation - whiteness, pain, confusion - but found none.
Perhaps they were better than I at hiding it. Perhaps on me, too, it failed to show. I watched myself buy bread, shelter from the rain in a cafe. But that could easily occur if the knowledge, pain, or confusion were on the inside only, the external body continuing as ever, unaware, so that there the awareness of death was unconscious to the outside body.