By Alannah Lewis
My home has a changing face.
There is a pub at the end of my road where Reggie and Ronnie Kray used to drink. When I was growing up, you could catch a whiff of egg from just standing outside. They would play karaoke into the small hours and a neighbour of ours swore he once saw a rat run across the carpet. These days the pub is full of mahogany tables and William Morris wallpaper. They serve craft beer and roast chicken at the weekends. It no longer smells of egg. I am yet to see another rat.
Home is Walthamstow, E17. It is the borough in which I learned how to ride a bike, tie my shoelaces, and stopped believing in Father Christmas. It is also one of London’s poorest boroughs, where approximately 16,000 children grow up in poverty and government cuts continue to hit public sector services particularly harshly.
Home is where I went to school, where I received the best education that money couldn’t buy, and where I learned that nobody looks good in a bottle green uniform. It is the playground where I grazed my knees, it is the cold grey Church where I used to pipe out ‘Silent Night’ on the flute every Christmas Eve. Badly. Home is a dirty old shopping centre, it is Claire’s Accessories on a Friday afternoon after lessons had finished, it is rolls of strawberry hubba-bubba, it is hot salty chips and petty fights. I find that every time I go home, things get older or smaller. I’m not sure how.