Bristol, You Sexy Thang!

I’ve missed you. So I’m back from my time in Spain and have been self-isolating for two weeks in a studio flat in the centre of Bristol. The block’s occupants are mainly party animal students which to be honest, I’m not uncomfortable with. I’ve run into them a few times and they’re raucous and door-bangy with a penchant for setting off the fire alarm, but they’re chivalrous nonetheless.

Broadmead, digital photograph (smartphone), N. Nazir, 2020

My God, the feral seagulls have multiplied since I was here last. Their cacophony in the early hours is akin to drunken louts yelling after a night out. As urban roosters, they’re a more effective alarm clock with the racket they make, but a lone cockerel crowing would be prettier.

Untitled, digital photograph (smartphone), N. Nazir, 2020

Still, sweet relief to be here. I feel so at home in this rough-around-the-edges bohemian city. Though of course, Bristolians being well ‘ard and unruffled about a pandemic, weren’t socially distancing very well. I think this should be made law. People invading your personal bubble of space in queues, on escalators, anywhere really, is always disturbing.

Untitled, digital photograph (smartphone), N. Nazir, 2020

I’ll bet anything the European habit of kissing on both cheeks has a lot to answer for. I’m convinced it helped the virus spread like wildfire. It is polite and customary to do this when greeting, even at first meeting, in Spain, Italy and France for sure. But perhaps it’s been the kiss of death. I’ve never been comfortable with greeting this way, it’s too much physical contact too soon for my liking. I’m a typical Brit like that. If I get to know you well (and you’re pretty good with your hygiene) I’ll grapple you in a bear hug, no problem. Maybe even lift you off the ground. Until then, it’s a fist bump at most. Well, in this climate, just a friendly nod.

Mother and Child (by El Mac), digital photograph (smartphone), N. Nazir, 2020
Mother and Child (by El Mac), digital photograph (smartphone), N. Nazir, 2020 (so glad this piece is still here and hasn’t been painted over)

I had a slight cough one evening, worried for a moment I’d caught the virus, so I promptly ordered a home test kit online. It came the very next day (the NHS have been gold). But have you ever had to do a swab? Oh God, the gagging, the gagging. After four unsuccessful attempts to rub my tonsils for 10-15 seconds as instructed (who is even capable of that? I managed to touch them for only a second which set me off retching every time), you then had to stick the same swab up one nostril and rotate it five times (which set off a sneezing fit). Then making sure the swab touches nothing else you have to put it in a test tube, seal it up and post it back. Not an easy thing to do, but enough to prove I tested negative for corona which was a relief. Thank the stars.

Here’s some graffiti art that wasn’t there the last time.

Stokes Croft, digital photograph (smartphone), N. Nazir, 2020.
(Artwork by Lucas_Antics)
Stokes Croft, digital photograph (smartphone), N. Nazir, 2020.
(Artwork by Lucas_Antics)

I’d heard the famous Breakdancing Jesus in Stokes Croft had been defiled by vandals so I wanted to take a look. By defiled, complainants were referring to the fact that someone had sprayed blue paint across his body, and to be honest, I actually quite liked it. Though of course I don’t agree with defiling a perfectly good mural.

Breakdancing Jesus vandalised, digital photograph (smartphone), N. Nazir, 2020
(Original artwork by Simple Lampoon)

Met my homie for a socially distanced coffee and she was sporting a new tattoo which happened to complement this gorgeous temporary artwork in the park. I enjoy little synchronicities like this.

Queens Square, digital photograph (smartphone), N. Nazir, 2020
Seagull, digital photograph (smartphone), N. Nazir, 2020
(Social distancing hearts painted by artists from Upfest Festival)

I just feel glad to back in the UK to be honest. I’m always itching to get away but with a pandemic on the loose, I’ve been itching to get back.

Untitled (Artist Unknown), digital photograph (smartphone), N. Nazir, 2020

So I’ve spent my time reading voraciously. You can find me masked up and trawling through bookshops most days. Books, bookshops, are my refuge. I daresay my next post will be about books I’ve consumed and recommend.

Thank you, online community, for your time 🙂

© N Nazir 2020