A Battersea Vignette, London

Dear Yuri,

I see mostly sky from my window – through the sky lights – I live in the loft of a Battersea flat. Go downstairs and you can see out on to our street. It’s occupied by a variety of people; old and young, transient-renters and long-time residents – it was one of the first council estates in the UK. We’re slowly starting to say hello, it’s only taken us 2 months of lockdown! And not very far away, just less than 5 minutes walk, is the beautiful Battersea park. It never gets old and it’s always there for me (and anyone else who needs it).

I notice the contrasts in lockdown. It’s polarising many of us and cultivating our split personalities. On the one hand we’re slowing down, unfurling, finding space for new things and starting to hear the knowing voice inside of us we usually ignore (certainly in this city). On the other I see we’re wilting, pent-up, scared and already-tired for the journey ahead. I don’t know anyone who wants things to ‘return to normal’ but I also don’t know anyone who can envision what the new normal should look like. I’m grateful but frustrated. I love being locked down in this city, but I also really don’t. I feel optimistic and yet full of grief.

One thing is for sure – I have renewed appreciation for nature and how it shows us what carrying on looks like. The birds still sing every morning and the trees are lush, it’s like a welcome party for when we can emerge. I wonder (hope) we might just have a different relationship with it all and ourselves when we do.

Harriet, London, England

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