A few days ago, just round the corner from Hackney police station, I noticed a car abandoned, straddling a bus lane and half the pavement. A day or two later, also from the top of a bus, I noticed someone had painted the entire car — body, windows, tires, lights, the lot — completely white. Given the level of obstruction I was surprised the car hadn’t been towed, even in Hackney. But the white car looked very cool, beautiful even, and I was pleased by this temporary exhibit. I wondered if it was connected with the people Dan saw painting over flyposters with white paint last week, some kind of mass cleansing of London.
So I just went round to take some photos and noticed the car wasn’t completely white. I saw a stylised human on the bonnet and, as I walked round to the side my heart sank a little… stencilled spray-on graffiti read “There’s beauty in the squalor,” beneath a couple of stencil faces. Unless done with the wit of Banksy, stencilled graffiti is an almost message-free territorial marking of the Nathan Barley Hoxtonian artist wannabe. A text-free white car would have been abstract and ownerless. Instead it was spoiled by shallow and patronising sloganeering.
But, as I waited for another combat-trousered youngish thing to finish taking her photos, as I switched on my digital camera and thought about going back to my smart flat behind locked gates off Clapton’s “murder mile” and uploading the snaps to my weblog, I couldn’t help thinking this was all I deserved.