Saturday, 25 July 2015

London snapshots.

Old Spitalfields Market.


Hampton Court
We went to London and for the first time in a long time we became tourists in our former home city. All around the heat shimmered and we moved in a determined slow motion, there was a tube strike and we were disorientated and amateurish when trying to navigate our way around the cashless oyster card system. We glimpsed new tube stations, great soaring apartment buildings - too ubiquitous to become landmarks - new pathways and directions -my previously sharp London map slowly remembered and eventually restored. We checked off some places that we had never been and places half-remembered since childhood - the maze at Hampton Court has drastically shrunk!

I saw the ghosts of lost friends in many faces and felt 21 again as we danced, reunited with some old ones. We celebrated with our growing extended family, precious new-born babies and beautiful bumps. I marvelled at the shift in our parental journey, it seems like minutes since we were the distracted parents of small infants and focused on the mindful vigilance that accompanies the fast-moving toddler. In the face of the mighty force that is Grandma, myself and Mr S became slightly redundant, some unusual hours of child-free time opening. We had enormous fun but I got my cure , it was probably no accident that I bought this book. (The background is a 1970's shopping bag that had to be bought in no small degree because of the texture and the smell! It takes me back to a hot 1970's summer, my wee pram with a similar plastic cover.)

I went clothes shopping on a Saturday morning, all the shops packed with people, sales stock strewn into a bemusing mass, stale air-conditioning in the giant shopping centre. I wanted to give up almost immediately, forget about the new shoes and join the kids in the park. The old seduction of London  was still strong, the brisk efficient mass of commuters, the endless number of undiscovered streets; the potential for people watching, the stories writing themselves as the actors in each tube carriage  shifted, emptied and refilled. The teenagers kissing at Harrow-on-the-Hill, the old Punks with chiselled features at The Angel, the beautiful twins with immaculate hair and light graceful dresses at London Bridge, a vivid 1960's painting for a dream house in Old Street. A lovely exhausting time but an interlude, I missed my space. We went for a lazy pub lunch in the pretty village of Sarratt, strolled part of the Chiltern Way and it was here that I felt most still and content. I saw the sky and the distant fields, and breathed out.

A most fortunate rabbit.

Sarratt Bottom. Address envy. xxx