Friday, September 05, 2014

99% Darkness

'99% Darkness' is a new novel by Jacob Stringer 'featuring South London evictions, Occupy, student protests, 15M, FARC guerrillas and dysfunctional relationships.'  With a strapline of 'You are fucked. They are fucked. We are fucked. Experience the fuckedness in London, Bogotá and Madrid' it sounds like it is in line with my current political mood.

 The novel is partly set in South London, here's a scene describing something I used to do a lot - putting the world to rights over a pint in the Prince Albert in Brixton's Coldharbour Lane:

'On the second night I cycled to meet Ahsan in Brixton. At London Bridge I looked up through the rain to see the Shard, now complete, an enormous lit pyramid splitting the sky.

“It looks like the headquarters of our future dystopian overlords,” I said as we 
sat down with our pints in the Albert. “Most of the office space has been taken by hedge funds,” replied Ahsan. “So the word ‘future’ is unnecessary: it is the headquarters of our current dystopian overlords.”

I shook the last raindrops from my head. “And how is London? How’s it been going while I’ve been gallivanting in Latin America?”

“Well you’ve probably seen the figures. The City is booming. Property is reinflating. Everyone else is living a depression. Not enough jobs, not enough hours, high rent, food prices up.”

“A normal day in dystopia.”

Ahsan nodded and suddenly looked serious. “It feels different than it used to. The politicians and the media are stirring up anti-immigrant feeling in a much more poisonous way. Disabled people are being thrown off benefits for the sake of statistics.” He lifted his pint. “And the beer’s expensive, the squats are gone, the poor are being thrown out the city. It feels like the people in charge have no limits to their actions.”

“You know how to cheer up a new arrival Ahsan.”

He grinned. “Come on, you love the feeling of doom.”

I shook my head. “I might love resisting the feeling of doom.”

“Same thing.”

Perhaps Ahsan was right, but neither the Boom London nor the Depression London were my London. My London changes only slowly, at a rate set by myself as I inscribe myself across it. I am not entirely defined by my resistance, however much I may choose to talk about it.


The Albert was becoming noisier by the minute and as we drank – the taste of English ale after so long! – our ability to stay focused on serious matters diminished. The Albert has always had a dynamic of increasing chaos as the night goes on. We drank more, I bumped into old friends, we gave ourselves up to the night'.

There's a launch for the novel tomorrow night (Saturday September 6th) at The Field, 385 Queens Road, New Cross SE14 5HD. 7:00 pm start - facebook event details here.

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