Category Archives: elephant & castle

A blockage at the Elephant

Several things have already gone wrong with our journey by the time we surface at the Elephant & Castle looking for a bus. Unfortunately, the bus at the stop is decanting its entire cargo of bemused-looking passengers: a woman in an electric wheelchair has parked it right in front of two buses side by side, blocking the traffic back up to Kennington, in protest at not being allowed on a bus already jampacked with passengers and pushchairs.

‘You’re so selfish,’ they shout. ‘There’s thousands of disabled people in London,’ she shouts back, before plugging her headphones back in and remaining there, impervious, impassive. Someone tells her to fuck her mother, she tells them to fuck off. Someone suggests moving her. ‘Anyone touch me, and I’ll do you for assault,’ she shouts. Her face relaxes into an unhappy mask of defiance. ‘She’s an attention seeker, she’s done this before.’ A boy with a blingy bluetooth earpiece starts circling her. ‘If you’re going to assault me,’ he asks, ‘where’s your blade?’ shuffling his hands up and down in his pockets.

One of the buses backs up: she follows it, blocks it, and parks her wheel right back against the other one. It looks heavy, but it’s a nippy vehicle, a tight turner. Eventually, a bus comes along in the outside lane, the driver kicks some cones and barriers out of the way and establishes a third channel for buses and cars to sluggishly filter through.  We jump on a bus taking the third way. It’s only when we reach the New Kent Road that we hear the sound of sirens approaching, coppers to sort out another fucked-up Sunday in South London. It takes some balls to gridlock the Elephant. Who is she? Why is she so angry?



We slither out of Kosmische under the Elephant arches, slippery with sweat, at about quarter to three, heads throbbing from the rather-closer-to-metal-than-krautrock thrashing of Circle, a bit of a disappointment. Making our way to our busstops south and north we part at a zebra crossing. A car full of boys speeds across the crossing and one of them shouts out the window “Gay… you’re fucking gay” at us.

A bunch of boys driving around in a car together all night, and we’re gay? I try to imagine this kid, riding shotgun next to his mate, his mate since they were kids. He’s pretending, pretending really hard, not to know that what he really wants. What he really wants is to move his arm across the handbrake and into his mate’s lap, finding his crotch and feeling his cock stiffen beneath his bony fingers. He wants it, he wants it so badly he has to hold his right hand across his lap with his left, and he hates himself for it, he feels dirty and disgusting and wrong, and he leans out of the window at the crossing and shouts at somebody, nobody… “Gay… you’re fucking gay!”