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Tales from the graff

My thigh muscles lock tight for what feels like an hour, but would only have been a millisecond then SNAP into motion. I’m bolting towards the only lit street corner where my spotter has already legged it from in the cold and the dark of the hackney wick ghetto. My legs are burning with a desire to never stop running and my chest is heaving air into its depths to keep kicking the ground away from beneath them – I am flying.

It’s 3 am, I’ve just spent the last 7 or so minutes hiding behind a skip, stopping and starting, what should have been a really quick and easy paste job. There had been the occasional car and I’d stopped for them all and just needed that last bit – it’s always just that last bit – to be brushed over. So as the last car took off I got up to finish, but as I stood, the car stopped about 30 meters away and the driver’s door flung open, a dark-skinned, well-built guy leaped out and I could just feel him walking straight towards me, so I turned my back and started walking briskly away from the wall, I was mind you, still carrying a massive household broom. It was at this point I clearly heard the words; “STOP! DON’T RUN, THIS IS THE POLICE!

So it was in that millisecond of action and doubt and fear and excitement, that my body chooses to run. I swear I had no control of this reaction, it was completely natural but I had to keep the overall machine together somehow. Every muscle was pumping, my fingers had locked tight and were cutting the air like pistons. After about a second I had already caught up with my accomplice and we were racing to what felt like the exact same rhythm of pounded pavement, the air we could not inhale fast enough and even the faint sound of the neighbouring heartbeat.

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Still flying, daring not to turn around, no need really as the occasional swing of the ensuing torchlight was enough to judge the distance, we turn the final corner and make our way towards the warehouse gates. At this point, it’s hard to judge anything, let alone distance or time, but as we rounded that last corner my heart sunk that little bit more, there was another torchlight coming from the only other street entrance, about a meter from our gate – our planned escape route – our only escape route.

Without thinking, I kept running towards the new light and the gate, I was now only about 5 meters away and I could make out a figure on a bike. Not only would it have been bad enough to be someone coming home at 3am in the cold and dark, to then have two, six foot, hooded figures hurtling towards you and the now congested gate. Anyway, we bound around her, actually more like over her (as it later became known to be one of our neighbours) and into the complex, past my front door, around the side of the building towards the other warehouses – a route I now wish I had thought about just that second longer.

We flew past our front door, the first as you enter the complex, then past some of the familiar doors of my neighbours, then past a few doors I hadn’t seen before, into a funnel of the two warehouses, finally greeted by a 10 ft anti climb fence. We had run ourselves into a dead-end.

Edwin is a multidisciplinary artist, whose work explores cliché, subversion and sacrilege, based in London, England.

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