People keep asking me what I’m actually doing in
I don’t really understand or fathom the question, but here is my answer anyway. This is a fairly incomplete list of what I did in a given week in early May.
What am I actually doing in
? Not necessarily that much all the
time. The most important part of it has always been the experience of it,
taking in the unique mood present in the very air around me. London
This visit turned out to be even more than usual special, since I was down (but not out) with a cold during half of my stay.
The plane landed on Gatwick airport, on time
10.15 in the late morning.
I had no luggage, but just carried all my stuff, except for the camera in a
fortified plastic bag, so except for the usual looong walk through the southern
terminal I was out of there pretty fast. My expectation of enjoying the usual
Large Cappuccino at Costa right after landing was frustrated when the coffee
bar in question was closed for refurbishing. I wasn’t too disappointed. There
are tons of Costa coffee bars in . London
I can intellectually recall what I feel every time I walk the streets of
but after a while after having left them I have a hard time actually
remembering emotionally. It’s fading with absence and the dull sadness of
civilization takes its place. London
Everything is flooding back, now, when I, after a thirty-two months absence wander the streets of
once again. London
I do believe in the enduring human spirit. In fact I embrace it. And every time I spend time in
it’s there, at the forefront of my
elevated state of consciousness. That doesn’t mean I forget about the less
unsavory aspect of human nature, certainly not, it just makes me focus more on
what’s truly important and experience life in an even more than usual
passionate and valuable way. London
I took the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station. I tell myself every time that I should take the slower and less expensive train, with more stops, but every time I get impatient and want to reach central parts of London as fast as possible.
The first thing I did, the first thing I always do when reaching
Central London is to
buy myself a one-week travel card. I know I will use public transport
extensively, and this is so much less expensive compared to buying single
tickets that it is ridiculous.
There was a queue as usual. I met a man asking me for directions, and I was able to help him, easily.
The awkwardness persisted, as I made my way to the hotel. This is always next on my list. When I have checked in at the hotel, I can start relaxing, start doing
start awakening, searching for my «
My first attempt at doing that is usually my first dinner. I usually go for a safe dish the first day, so I went to Friday’s and my favorite spare ribs.
I usually enjoy that immensely, but this time I didn’t, for some reason. It felt like a totally unremarkable meal, with little or no joy. The prices had gone up with thirty percent since my last visit, but that wasn’t it either. I took some picture, both inside and outside the restaurant. They were not very good.
Dinner was done. I moved through rainy streets. It was just a drizzle, really, nothing for one growing up in western
. We know
what true rain is, and this wasn’t it. Norway
I started snapping pictures in
Coventry Street and on Leicester Square,
and later in Covent Garden, places I am intimately
familiar with. There had been a few changes since I last walked there, but not
that many. Covent Garden was the place I first spent time when I arrived in in July 1983. It
was also where I and the guys had played street theater in the late eighties
and early nineties. It brought back tons of memories. London
I ended up going to one of my favorite pubs, The Coach and Horses and had my first Guinness. Its taste was great, as always. I sat there enjoying myself, without a care in the world.
Except for the slight irritation in my throat that had been there since the airport before departure. I ignored that.
I had a second Guinness, one tasting even better than the first. Leonard showed up when I had downed half of that. We met through the Internet some years back and have been friends since. It’s a curious thing. Without the Internet we would probably never have met. Some friendships take years to develop, but we clicked instantly.
So, we sit there during most of the afternoon, having one of our excited conversations about life, existence, politics and everything. To grossly underestimate it: it was yet another great afternoon in
One of my goals for the evening was to locate the poetry club in
Covent Garden, but even
though I searched extensively, I was unable to do so. If I had owned a smart
phone or brought my laptop it would have been easy, but I dislike smart phones
and usually take a deliberate break from computing when I am traveling. I had
brought a copy of Secrets, my latest poetry collection, and was prepared to do
some public reading.
Giving up after a while I went to Starbucks and bought some coffee. The place in
Oxford Street, like the Coach and Horses and my
encounter with Leonard and others always gives me inspiration to write and take
notes in my paper notebook, and it did this time as well. I wrote several pages
that afternoon and evening, and several of the plots of my unfinished novels
made major advances forward.