‘And God – look out! The Portobello Road, the whole trench scuffed and frayed and full of rats. Guy could feel the street frisking him – to see what he had to give up. A queue of tramps had formed at the gates of the Salvation Army Hostel, waiting for soup or whatever was offered, the troops of the poor, conscripts, pressed man, hard pressed. Tall, and with clean hair, clean teeth, Guy moved past them painfully, the tramps and their tickling eyes. All he saw was a montage of preposterous footwear, open toes like mouths of horses, showing horses teeth…Once a upon a time, the entrance to the Black Cross was the entrance to a world of fear. Nowadays things had changed places, and fear was behind him, at his back, and the black door was like an exit’.
London Fieldsby Martin Amis. 210. P 140
Within this writing, Amis has portrayed Portobello Road as a dirty rat-ridden environment. He speaks of the large homeless population and references the poverty in the area when mentioning his fear of ‘the street frisking him’.
When visiting, Portobello Road did not generate this same outcome to me. There was no dramatic evidence of poverty visible, nor were the streets ‘scuffed’ and ‘full of rats’. Instead, the area is busting with markets and retail fronts. To replace the homeless figures portrayed in the writing, modern day Portobello Road attracts a huge range of people, shopping, working, exploring.
Having spent a lot of time exploring the area alone, I can fairly reject the notion that there is fear among the streets. The first thing that I notice is the quirky and exciting nature of the area. Having been built upon for decades, the environment has no specific target market, allowing it to be utilised by a huge range of the population.