All text copyright Stephen Coates 2006 - 2015


In recent weeks, a message has appeared on the pavements of Vauxhall and Albert Bridges.

It says "I think I am it.  If you are too, come to South Quay DLR".  One would guess that it has been painted by one who has have fallen in love with another on the way to work and harbours the belief that love is reciprocated.  My grasp of graphology is good enough to know the writer is male so we can assume HE followed the beloved (gender unknown) and left a message where he knew they would see it - probably on the way home.  It is rather strange because it would seem far more effort to do all that than to just go up to the person in question and start talking to them.  But love know no logic does it?  

There is of course  a noble tradition of romance on bridges - right back to Dante getting his first peek at Beatrice on the Ponte Vecchio in 1300 and dedicating his life to her honour.  Their love was never consumated of course - I believe she thought him somewhat of a wimp and there was always a Mrs Dante and some mini Dantes waiting for Dad back at home.

London provides endless scope for the romantic imagination - yet another reason not to live in the country I would have thought.  This is particularly true when you are falling into or being pushed out of love. The city is soaked with the stains and traces of love lost and love found:  particular districts become associated with a particular person or a particular time; a broken heart can lend significance to the most ordinary of bus stops; an intensity of feeling amplify some dismal corner to the level of that bridge in Florence.  Holborn tube reeks with the scent of a million assignations. 

Such urban love can make fools of us. For a while I couldn't deal with West Kensington at all and found even buying a ticket for the district line poignant yet Dalston retains a certain romantic air in the imagination in spite of its grubby appearance. Once lost in some amorous madness, I saw a man walk through the wall of Russell Square tube, a sun-lit stream flowing through a concrete car-park behind Grays Inn Road.   There is a bench in Soho square I have not been able to sit on since a friend told me he had sex on it ...with my ex. For months, I was absolutely convinced a certain person was about to turn into the street ahead of me and things would be alright. They never did, and now I am glad of it. 

I wrote a song about such things a while ago.  It was released with Joe Coles singing - but here is the orginal with yours truly

As for our friends on the bridge above,  It is conceivable that they may be together now.  Or perhaps the wrong person read the message and turned up and it all worked out anyway. That would be a nice ending to this story - but if they are together or even if they are not, I hope someone remembers to come back and clean the pavement - just in case.


darrenabi said...

Superb superb superb superblington mews. Gonna dance with my girl right NOW.

clerkenwell kid said...

Dancing in the daytime?
Like it

spillyjane said...

Thanks for the musings + the tune both. I don't mind telling you that I had that one stuck in my head the last time I was in London. I expect that it will turn up again on my next trip.

How many loves has London known? Just another something to muse upon as I sit here working my new Thamesis mittens.

(The Real) Tamsin said...

The cynical part of me thinks that the object of his desire either is blissfully unaware or has the feeling that he is ever so slightly creepy.

The romantic part of me is sulking slightly at the cynical part.

I'm currently giving the Museum of Brands a wide berth.

Anonymous said...

I think the worst things with romantic significance, for me, are the songs that meant something. You can't avoid them, and they cut like a knife no matter where you are or how long it's been. Music is such an emotional thing in the first place, adding it to a bad memory takes that emotion to level 10.

As a result, there are some songs I can only listen to when I'm going to be depressed anyway. Such is life.

Tamsin Wilson said...

When I moved here I left all my bad associations with places and people, as yet there is nothing I need to avoid. Apart from the creepy fruit and veg man I have to walk past every morning.

I wonder how many people move to avoid things, the majority I imagine. You have space to move a thousand times to forget in this city.

And I agree with Kari, the wrong song unexpectedly can ruin you, your day or week is then tainted with memories you didn't want.

clerkenwell kid said...

I probably agree with the Real Tamsin a bit here. I think I might be put off by the fact I had been followed, by the grafitti or even by the handwriting but then such is the stuff that dreams are made of - give the right person..

And Tamsin that is a very provoking thought about moving to a clean slate, a blank canvas as it were - another big plus of the metropolis and the flip side to the loneliness. You can always start over right? I can sometimes see London as just a cross section of all the journeys we make in it.

As for the ties between songs and people - of course. That is one of the many reasons to be a song writer I think.

I will always have a soft spot for Tea for Two

(The Real) Tamsin said...

Due to the vagaries of London Transport I came through South Quay today, Its really not the most romantic of assignation spots.

I'm reminded of a piece of graffiti that was outside Wimbledon railway station from at least the mid 1980s for at least the next decade.

In block capitals in bright blue paint on a piece of corrugated iron

'Tracy I love you come back home'

Over the years the iron rusted turning the letters do a dull dark brown. I always wondered if Tracy ever came back.

clerkenwell kid said...

That is wonderfully poignant. Like the graffiti Alan garner found enscribed on Mow Cop: "Pip loves Brian" and then written later in a different hand: ""Not really now not any more"

Roberta S said...

There you go. Now with all that electronic messaging going on, graffiti might stop. That would be a shame. Graffiti clean up is a curse, but sometimes the discovery of an unexpected message, and the hope, remorse, or whatever expressed therein is quite a delight. Provocative at the very least.

clerkenwell kid said...

Absolutely agree with that. But it depends on the handwriting.

Roberta S said...

Back again, this time to listen to that song. Oh beautiful, beautiful. Lovely lyrics, lovely melody. Very special. Absolutely soul gripping.

That is, seriously, the lovliest song I have heard in eons.

clerkenwell kid said...

That is very nice to hear

Jack said...

I love the original of "I loved London" and I woulk like to know if it has been released. I'm a big fan of your work (and your blog)and I'd love to have this song.

clerkenwell kid said...

Hi Jack

We will post this in the download section of soon

Jack said...

Hi Clerkenwell Kid,

Thank you very much, I'm also buyer and fan of antiquebeat. I'll be ready to download this precious song.


Jack said...

Hi Kid,

Thank you very much for posting the song. I've downloaded, enjoyed, danced, kissed, loved... with this song.

All the best,

clerkenwell kid said...

You're very welcome Jack. Keep going!

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Anonymous said...

Wow it has been there for three years. I had absolutely no idea what the message was about, you seem pretty sure it's someone who has seen somebody they like and want to talk to, I'm not so sure.