The crossroads where Hamlet Court Road and London Road meet is a haven for lost souls.
A raggle-taggle bunch of friendly faces gather there for all or part of each day, collectively numbing away the pain of their day to day lives, sharing sips from cans and brown bagged bottles, conversing, shouting, occasionally hugging.
It’s not a beautiful spot.
It probably was once, when the tall Georgian buildings on its corner were home to wealthy holiday makers and shop owners, but the buildings are peeling and dilapidated now, in need of care.
It is practical though, especially if you have nowhere else to go. It is furnished with public toilets, seating and a nearby 24-hour supermarket with a plentiful supply of booze.
The lost souls are not the only permanent residents. The crossroads is also home to a large flock of pigeons., who loiter in groups getting in the way of pedestrians and cyclists, flit and flutter from pavement to roof and back again, lining the shop fronts with droppings and stray feathers. Very occasionally they even bathe in the murky puddles where the road and the curb meet.
They are scruffy and bedraggled. Awkward and jerky. Not much to look at really.
But sometimes, sometimes. For no reason at all. They will divert from their usual roof to pavement commute and take to the air with a co-ordinated, rhythmic beating of wings.
If you happen to look up at one of these moments it will seem like the sky is breathing. You will feel your soul lift as you watch them dip and soar and remember you are lucky to be alive in this crazy world where street rats dance like ballerinas.