Question: What is the difference between this shot and all the others this week? Answer: There is no bench. It is no more.
The council have recently taken away the bench to stop what they consider undesirables gathering and to prevent them upsetting tourists and poshos. But the truth is the drunks and the street dwellers that congregated they were never a problem and no-one really considered them one. They didn’t really harass anyone other than each other and because the bench was the only designated place you could sit down on Portobello Rd everyone just got on with it and no-one really cared.
Whether you were eating a food takeout from market, supping on a special brew, having a smoke or eating an ice cream this was where everyone congregated. As there was such a divergent mix of people on the bench it always made for an interesting place to hang out and you got to see loads of different characters. Now that this simple piece of outdoor furniture has been removed there is nowhere for those interactions to take place. And along with the local centres and youth clubs that have been closed down over recent years it is yet another community hub destroyed. It feels like its just part of a continued policy to remove every character in the neighbourhood and consequently every bit of character that made this area what it was. And who wins then?
For the drunks, the bench was all they had and now they have nothing. Kensington and Chelsea want to do everything they can to keep this element away and if it means removing the one place they could hang out then so be it. Who cares what these people want or need? Who cares if they have nothing else? Why deal with a problem when you can brush it aside and keep it out of sight?
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P.s if you are wondering what those pink splodges are on this picture (and you might have also noticed on other shots) they are a sensor glitch from my camera which I have since sent in for repair.