When I first arrived in London, Angel was the first area where I lived – or, as I have heard from some old londoners, and read in “Oliver Twist”, by Dickens, “The Angel”. I actually stayed there for quite long, one and a half years, which is my current record in one address. I remember this big green that was surrounded by a high wall. Every time I returned from Chapel Market, I would see this graffiti on the wall:


I had no idea what that meant at the time, and since I didn’t know anyone, no one could explain.

A few years later a friend narrated the poll tax riots and the issues around them to me, but since the graffiti had not meant anything to me at the time, I had forgotten it by the time I was told the story.

Then some years afterwards, I found myself driving a people carrier in the area and one of my friends pointed to it, surprised somewhat amused that the graffiti would still stay there after the years.

Today I walked besides that wall again. I had gone back five or six years and I was again walking from Chapel Market, or from Upper Street, or from Hackney, happy to be arriving home after a long shift work or a long walk. I was working either in a bar or in a restaurant on Upper Street, after realising that the difference between working within walking distance or not could equate to the difference between having enough to eat or not. For most of the time during my Angel life, I never had money for transport, so I would walk wherever necessary, always alone, always in silence, with the prospect, when I would arrive “home” of an incredibly little room in a women’s residence, again alone, again in silence. So, by the time I would reach the wall, I was eager to hear, or read, any kind of human word. I would then find these words on the wall, “do not pay poll tax”, and I would wonder, “why does some one want people not to pay that particular tax?” since I thought, already then, that all taxes are bad, because one big reason why I did not have enough money to live with dignity, in a decent room with a decent kitchen, was the money that was discounted from my wages in concept of Income Tax – 24%.

All these sensations came back to my stomach today, all as clear as present. Except the reading one, because the words have been blurred, as in an attempt to erase them. Maybe the next time I go past that street, in six years time, they will not be there any more at all.