Today I have to attend my first lesson of the course. I am already three weeks behind this course work and I am late. As usual. I feel definitely out of place when I enter the Bishopsgate Institute and this feeling grow stronger when I notice that I am the only one writing with a pen. I decide to play it cool until one of my course mates kindly lets me know that pens are forbidden inside the archive and gives me a pencil.
Stefan is showing us many items of the archive that strikes me as sparks of untold stories. There’s the ten million pound book, ironically a journal of the First International that could solve all my financial problems for a lifetime. That could be a good element for the plot of a heist movie. There’s the life story of an old school East End criminal written in a surrealistically unblemished fashion on 19 pads. There’s also the quite contemporary diary of the love life of a secretary from Edinburgh that could be the perfectly adapted into a breezy ironic book.
After the presentation we are left to consult the material of the archive by ourselves in search for inspiration. My attention is caught by a map drawn by Iohannes de Ram in 1690. The map depicts the old city and I notice how Stepney Green, where I live, was once a placid bit of countryside. This fact prompts me to jot down this brief piece of creative writing:
In the 17th century map drawn by Iohannes de Ram I see how the city monster has devoured the surrounding countryside. Stepney Green, my neighbourhood, once would have been a quiet place. Somewhere you can walk and find peace of mind. Now it is a run-down place filled with run down people. When you get off the Underground you feel the ugliness of the place submerging you. It’s the ocean of grey and brownish buildings that stand tall against a dull sky. They resemble mice cages, you won’t call that homes. You try to get to your cage as fast you can hoping not to become another victim of the pettiness of the prey.