I’m sitting in the pocket garden of a maisonette in Hackney. It feels like a Mediterranean village. Laundry is strung across balconies; the sun is out and so are the children, who are on holiday this week. They are playing outside, boys and girls of primary school age, I would guess, different colours and languages, which stands out when their parents or older brothers and sisters call down from balconies or across to friends on other balconies. The soundscape remind me of a village we stayed in in Crete some years ago, up in the hills above Knossos. The house, in the middle of the village, check by jowl with other houses and walled courtyard belonged to the family of friends of friends—but they had built themselves a new house outside the town, where they grew olive trees. In the streets children played, we heard their voices, but couldn’t see them and at night older folks argued in their courtyards until late.
Here the weather is different, but right now, with the kids out of school and the sun shining, and the apartments pressed together, windows and doors open, it feels like that.