Day off in London

24 10 2011

It’s at this time of year that I love London the most. Crisp autumnal-come-wintery air. Clear blue skies, into which the wind-weathered stonework and glistening glass architecture blends seamlessly; as if the designers had exactly this kind of hue in mind as the perfect backdrop for their creations. An early morning trip to queue up for theatre tickets. Then a quick detour through Chinatown, the streets lined with delivery vans containing exotic foods, odd shaped and mysterious-looking.

An espresso in a quirky little bar: single origin, Costa Rican – Las Lajas Perla Negra. Probably the oddest flavoured, most tongue-boggling coffee I’ve tasted in a while. The flavour lingers on, the liquorice bitterness enhanced and renewed by waves of fresh air as I breathe deeply, strolling over a bridge across the Thames.

Booksellers huddle up under Waterloo bridge, their cheeks a light red from the subtle sting of the wind. Tourists photograph skateboarders, BMXers and graffiti artists, honing their skills on the Southbank.

I’m sitting in the National Theatre, a great place to think and write. To my right I can see down into the foyer below; the drama students reading texts on the lurid green and orange sofas, like a giant cubist fruitbowl. The looks on their faces give away that they’re daydreaming of reading these lines on one of the stages just metres away. To my left I can see out onto the Southbank. Families enjoying the half term, kicking a football around; a strange flotilla of kick-scooters all lined up by the railings. Quite how, when and why they returned into fashion I have no idea!

And I’m just writing. It’s silent here, and light, and pleasant. And I have nothing in particular to do; I make a few tweaks to a talk I’m to give in a week or so, I jot down a few thoughts like these, and I just wrote the final chapter of my first book. Well, I say that with my tongue loosely lodged in my cheek. I have written no other chapters, nor do I know what such a book might be about. But if this little chapter would come anywhere in anything, it would most certainly be at the end. And so I, like the drama students downstairs, adopt a day-dreaming face and imagine giving a public reading on the little stage in the foyer. Nobody’s looking… what’s stopping me?

A young mother, trying to impress her son and reclaim her youth just fell off a scooter. She’s not hurt. She’s laughing. To be honest, she was doing quite well until she came off; scooting around whilst kicking a football. Multitasking.

I used to find London tiring; bustling, busy, impatient, heaving. And yes, it is all those things. But the fast pace just makes me appreciate the slow days all the more. Today I find it energising. There’s nothing nicer than just sitting, observing, writing, caffeinating and reflecting whilst the world rushes past. In just a few minutes, you can trip seamlessly from one world into another. Such beauty and diversity around every corner: representatives from every nation, each bringing a little thread of their own into the patchwork of our city: their foods, their art, their languages.

I wouldn’t swap it for the world. Why would I need to? The whole world is already here…

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One response

23 11 2011
themagnificentsomething

Lovely writing!

Absolutely agree, London seems to gather the whole world in one city!!!

thank you for sharing!

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