Paul Farley on his Student Days in Chelsea
Now a critically-acclaimed poet, Paul Farley came to London to study at the Chelsea College of Art and Design. His early experiences of West London weren't great; he encountered shoddy landlords, sleeping rough, and wandering the streets of London in the early hours of the morning:
When I found a basement flat – or rather, the sub-let room of a flat – in Notting Hill, I thought I'd cracked it. The landlord was eccentric: he kept the place subfusc, drank all day dressed in his black silk kimono, and seemed trapped in the 1960s. All very Performance, and I could handle that. But my bed consisted of a seething, mycotoxic mattress on the floor, there were no locks on the doors, and the landlord soon came snooping around, making excuses as to why he needed to gain entry. After a week of this, I did a runner one morning, caught the first Circle Line train, and sat orbiting London until everywhere began to open for the day.
Being skint and living from hand to mouth didn't get in the way of my social life. I gravitated towards boozers, and learned how to get pissed for free on obliterating house white. We crashed shop openings on the King's Road or private views around Cork Street, me in my Gas Board anorak or my dad's outsized corduroy jacket, NHS bins and tangled hair. I was thrown out of many designer boutiques and galleries, but usually not before I'd got a drink
You can read his full account in the Guardian
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