I have been getting to know London.
I didn’t think that I had anything to write about, as I haven’t had any epiphanies this week (!); but there is this.
I didn’t see the City last time I lived here. This time I can’t look hard enough.
I am determined to not get lost again so I have been walking myself into the streets. Setting out with trainers and my iPod and one rule: always look up. Fitting this piece next to that one and seeing that this road joins in here. Sitting on the bus with my phone map and mentally adding the buildings in as we go by. This is that place they were talking about and this is where I will come when I want to do xxx. I have been photographing the bits I will return to, like a tourist, and noting down the addresses for a rainy day.
I catch my bus from the Thames in the morning. If I squint the cars out, the wrought iron lampposts make me feel like we’re back in a different time. “Unreal City. A crowd flowed over London Bridge” and all that. I am getting used to the planes breaking the night; and how London awakens as the darkness draws back. How the City is all clean and shiny in the morning, and how sleepy people emerge until the day suddenly tips into action. It is just like Eliot wrote, though far more cheerful. The references are anchoring me.
On Sunday we walked the Southbank. Unexpectedly; and because you should never waste a sunny winter’s day. From Waterloo to the slanting slope up to St Paul’s; along the narrow alleys that are seeped in history; past the Tower of London and a tiny set of ancient windows that have imprinted themselves in my head, complete with a Tudor woman tipping a bucket of water out of them.
I have a hundred questions. What’s that building? When was that built? What happened there? It is annoying for anyone who is with me but I can’t keep them in. I am curious about life again, I think.
The sun was setting over the Thames as we walked back. The city shone, sparkled with lights. Canary Wharf to the East before the river curved, a pinky red glow over London Bridge. It took my breath away. I do not want to disappear again, and I do not want these moments of amazement to stop.