Photo by Alex Vasey on Unsplash

What it was Like to Live in a Rough Neighbourhood in Madrid Spain

Thinking of you keeps me awake. Dreaming of you keeps me asleep. Being with you keeps me alive.

Sean P. Durham
11 min readAug 13, 2023


Late one night, my cat wouldn’t stop scratching and whining at the front door. I kept telling him to leave it, but he insisted I investigate.

I opened the door, a man sat on the steps, one shoe and his crumpled sock on the floor, a needle between his toes.

I told him, “Finish off, then leave,” I was firm but friendly.

He was a drug addict, a shelf-life client of the darkest side of capitalism. I wasn’t going to be mean to him. Just not on my doorstep, please.

I don’t like drug dealers. They create hellish neighbourhoods, and prey on those who are tired and vulnerable.

I will ensure that my environment is safe and secure for me and mine. My home, from the front door extending into the immediate street area — that’s my home. I want to know that when my partner walks out the door, she doesn’t need to look over her shoulder or cross the road to avoid danger.

We moved into a third floor flat in Madrid, where the people live close knit, streets are like hot baking sheets, the locals are warm and mixed.

Shortly after, local drug dealers found a patch by a lamppost outside my home; At first, I observed them like a cat. I could hear them at night, hanging out, talking, laughing, bored.

They would wait for their clients to turn up and buy, the supply being dropped off by taxi — a bag lobbed out of the moving taxi window.

They woke me most evenings. So, I would move to my balcony and silently watch.

I gleaned knowledge of how they operate, whether they had bosses, how intelligent they were, and who they dealt with.

One of them loved practising his martial arts on his two associates. The second, made snide remarks to young women. He was all gold chains, open shirt and slicked back hair. The third dealer was clearly learning the business. He hadn’t fully immersed himself in the dealer mentality, he seemed too open and chummy. He politely greeted me by day, and kept himself in the shadows at…



Sean P. Durham

Berlin Notes — Writing about the Creative Art of Street Photography. Fine Art Photography, writing, art, cats.