Alternative Streets

It is not often that you can walk out of your house on a Saturday morning to go down to the places you always go to find that someone has created art out of the conversation that any other weekend might be had with Kezem over the the till in the greengrocers.

It should be mentioned that the till is new and not forgiving of a fat finger as a result of which a £10.34 bag of shopping can suddenly come out at a cost of £204.32. It normally gets sorted out before money changes hands.

As promised the back of the greengrocers had been cleared and on the wall there were two screens.One of then showed Kerim’s face suspended in grey clouds and the other featured Kezem’s voice. The artist, Haleh Jamali had spent a week with them last year listening to them talk and she played out his voice over a series of images. The two screens played against each other as Kezem leaned against a stack of onions and watched.

Kezem talked about identity and how that shapes us for better or worse. He wondered how different the world might be if George Bush had been born a muslim.

A few minutes later as I did my shopping we got to talking and in the space of a few minutes he had me back 3,000 years and then on to Socrates and Buddha. He issuing back to Tehran next week and I look forward to the pictures he will have to show me me when h gets back.

From the grocers we walked down Oxton Road and spent 15 minutes listening and looking at the pictures on the wall All Nations 4 Hair. The only slight disappointment was that there was not a picture of me there.

It was then on to Frank Cavanagh’s the cobbler and a slip through the net of time. He has worked in the shop for seventy-five  years and can remember a time before Borough Road became a dual carriageway and it was called Happy Valley. There were shops down either side and his building housed a greengrocer and fishmonger. One wall of the shop is still lined with the white tiles. He opened the side door in his shop and let us look at the medieval instruments of torture he uses to mend the shoes.

There were packets of old photos on the shelves behind him and he took them down to show us. Black and white hints of the past. He talked about the old cinemas and grand theatre that have been knocked down to make way for carparks and when Gregory Peck came to The Ritz cinema in Birkenhead for the opening of The Forsyth Saga.

We then made our way home for a lunch of pasta with cherry tomatoes.


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