Saturday, July 04, 2015

Things to do in London when burning with passion and life (I)


  People keep asking me what I’m actually doing in London
  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 London? 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.
  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 London, 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.
  Everything is flooding back, now, when I, after a thirty-two months absence wander the streets of London once again.
  I do believe in the enduring human spirit. In fact I embrace it. And every time I spend time in London 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.

  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 London, start awakening, searching for my «London feeling».
  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 Norway. We know what true rain is, and this wasn’t it.
  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 London 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.
  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 London.
  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 New 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.