“Bloodshot Monochrome” By Patience Agbabi
“Bloodshot Monochrome” By Patience Agbabi has various poems, which are related, around the city of London having an affect on its space. Throughout the novel it explains the many different aspects of London involving the relationship with diversity to the city structure itself. Throughout the novel, there are references to specific places, which were influenced by the city of London. One very specific reference is on page nine of the poem called, “The London Eye”, it states, “Through my gold-tinted Gucci sunglasses, the sightseers. Big Bens quarter chime strikes the convoy of number 12 buses that bleeds into the city’s monochrome.” That quote there is a very specific reference to the city of London and how its public space is affected by the way it is seen, perceived, and lived in. The gold-tinted Gucci sunglasses is describing that there are several different people around the city. Some of much different class’s and backgrounds. The line is also describing how the space of London is turning into a tourist attraction, then an actual place that people are living in and being raised in.
The next line, “Big Ben’s quarter chime strikes the convoy of number 12 buses that bleeds into the city’s monochrome” is describing how the city is over run with tourists and sightseer’s (like ourselves) and how it might be taking away something from the simple beauty and space of the city itself as a whole. The next line states, “through somebody’s zoom lens, me shouting to you, ‘Hello… on… bridge… minster!’” This again I took as another reference to the space f London being over run by tourists again. The line is also stating that it is so crowded, and it is so packed with people, you can barley hear anything or yourself speak. The reference to the zoom lens camera is another tourist indicator I think because if you are a tourist, you most likely will have a camera with you. The next line states, “the aerial view postcard, the man writing squat words like black cabs in rush hour.” This is saying that a man is writing a generic postcard to someone like he was in a huge rush with maybe rarely any effort. I think this is an important line because it explains that in a big city, everything seems rushed. And also the tourist probably seems like their just people repeating the same thing over and over again. I suppose it you lived in a city like London and had to experience that everyday it would eventually feel very repetitive. Also, I believe that tourism though is a part of London’s “Englishness”. The monuments are beautiful and people come from all over the world to experience its sights.
Another poem from the novel is on called “Skins”. It describes a man who is directly affected by the public space around him making him feel insecure about himself as a person. The poem states, “I just want to fit in. A misfit. Mixed-race but light-skinned, brown hair, blue eyes.. I passed. I had to. Then I got this tattoo. I did it in a fit of rage. It soon passed. You want to read my skin? .. Put my soul on ice, denied a black dad, too terrified to let on. I wore the outfit, marched with the skins.” This passage is directly relating to the stereotype of a public space that he is or was surrounded by. He was influenced by the people’s views around the city to develop this belief. The British meaning or slang of “Skins” for this poem according to page 75 is, “’I passed is short for ‘I passed for white’ i.e. I was mistakenly accepted as a white person.”
The City of London is a very international city. Which directly relates to the poem. There are many different people in the city, cultures and languages. People can be living there permanently or just visiting the city. “Sightseers are becoming a part of London and it’s “Englishness”. This can either be a great experience for some or a burden for others. Regardless, people make up the public space of London. Through the Souvenirs being sold, pictures, food, to language and noise; it is all in some way, being affected by the people in the city. The public space changes constantly with the people who are in it. It is a part of the city and what makes it so diverse and interesting.