London, baby ! July 16, 2007Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
I think the previous 4 days is the longest gap this blog has survived without being updated. The reason for this is that I was away in London with work. London doesn’t have the Internet on computers yet. Except it had a dodgy version on a pay-by-minute PC in Heathrow airport from which I made the previous POTD post – the first ever, I believe, not made from a desk on these shores.
Anyway, being once a city I lived in and more recently a city I considered (briefly) moving to, I am glad that I will never have to return in any capacity other than a camera toting tourist or a family visiting sponger.
I’ve never felt so hemmed in and claustrophobic in all my life. I attended a conference in London’s Olympia – one of the premier conference locations – which is in the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. Its pretty streets are characterised by tall, stone buildings and long, straight avenues. It was the sort of place you’d have to know where you’re going. And I didn’t … I longed for the open spaces and squares of tourist London because it allows you at least to get some bearings. I could quite easily imagine people who live their lives on the tube – getting on at their home, getting off at their work and never seeing the in-between …. what was the phrase the French had ?
Anyway, when my conference duties were behind me, I shed my business attire and all the assumptions that go with it and headed, camera in hand, into the thick of the schmaltzy, humid and tourist thronged Leicester Square for a gander around.
It was a decent enough place to start my brief walking tour and I would recommend it as a base tube station … 5 minutes in either direction will bring you to Covent Garden, China Town and Trafalgar Square … so that’s what I did.
After people watching in Trafalgar Square, I wandered down the Mall to see could I see herself but she had a meeting that day with some bloke called Roderick Stewart. I settled instead for joining the hordes of Japanese bowing tourists taking pictures of a Scots Guardsman on his horse at the gates of Whitehall. As pathetic and all as it sounds, the claustrophobia of Chelsea and Kensington etc. was behind me and I immediately felt at ease – I could at least, see beyond the corner of the next street. The clouds weren’t partially blocked by – albeit pretty – buildings.
The highlight of my trip was a saunter through the National Gallery made all the more easier by the great computer system they have for picking out your route to the pictures you want to see. Outside, I noted the interesting current occupant of the “Fourth Plinth” – Alison Lapper – whose link tells its own story.
So London’s great – I could never imagine living there or even being there as anything other than a tourist. It’d be too hard to break into (and out of !) the well formed slick that is the real living London – hundreds of thousands of daily grinders on tubes, buses, bikes, walking … the lack of a tall double skinny, caramel mocha latte, frappachino wouldn’t bother me that much.