Friday, December 19, 2008
The scale and grandeur of the buildings, public and private. The pillars and porticos, the flights of high stone steps. The relentless hardness and shine of the marble. Left overs from the days of empire or steel and concrete temples to Mammon, so plentiful I barely noticed them when I lived here. After two years away, a surprise, a shock even. Acres of concrete. Scurrying people. Flocks of men in suits. Christmas muzak. Icy, grey dampness as we walk across Albert Bridge and P, always upbeat, says that Monet would have painted the view with its diffused, nebulous light. The dawn chorus of mobile phones and switched on laptops on the train that had carried me back to the capital that morning. The cough that I couldn't stifle. Buses. Trains. High prices. Noise.
Being greeted with such unexpected, tentative warmth by H it brought tears to my eyes. Realising that I am an uneasy houseguest as I hate to be beholden, but I make a huge effort not to let it show. Understanding that it is wise not to accompany P on her shopping trips - much better to arrange to meet at the coffee shop afterwards. Saying goodbye to P, hugging, then breaking free, then thinking of something else to say, three times before I make it through the ticket barrier to catch the train home.
London and me. So long together, reunited again for a few, short days.