a little in love with london, after 3yrs absence.
a little bit in love with london today, i’ve been on delayed trains, cancelled tubes, crowded buses, stood up to my ankles in discarded lunch packs, cups and news papers, but: i have been stopped by strangers, to tell me i’ve dropped a glove, to share a comment on the passing of mandela, to talk about how cute the dog i was walking in the park ( dear jackson, old and grey, moulting, short legged, that’s where the similarities end), assorted hellos merry christmases and so forth.
i waked in ruskin park under dormant leafless trees, munched minced pies in borough market,oh the smells of food, and the variety, left me reeling. made my solitary pilgrimage to the memorial for dear friends lost on the marchioness, and then lunched with a friend and survivor of the same.
i inspected, from a distance the various new towers corporate fancies carelessly dropped in areas with little context or thought for the neighbourhood. everything is different but exactly the same, i dropped into see a friend at his oxo jewellery gallery and we chatted as if i had seen him just last week. shops have come and gone, but the new are bursting with christmas shoppers. restaurants packed at lunchtime, and everything so expensive, cheeper to drink a pint here than back in KL, but a nasi lemak is sold at a price that would feed four at home.
the view from waterloo bridge amazing as always, under blue sky to the east and low cloud to west but more startling in part thanks to the alien new towers, shards, cheese graters, walkie talkies and the generic. so many exhibitions i would love to see but will fail to mainly because of the cost, but they are there, and i will cherry pick a treat or two.
continuing the late afternoon, thru soho, the obligatory pint at comptons, and a walk down thru china town, i felt a hint of christmases past, the old friends, the drunken nights, the years of work,friendships, relationships, dramas,brawls, sex, the fun , youth.
and then to my goal, south africa house, where 27yrs ago i spent some time chatting and sitting with the anti-aparthaid demonstrators when i worked in the square i was young naive ignorant and arrogant but could not fail to grasp the issue this was a start of a long education not received in my country backwater but thru experince argument news etc, a waring down of so many preconceived notions, bad teachings, and minor prejudices. this was my token gesture, my appreciation for a great man, of wishing to see the impromptu shrine started last night, more than i ever had any desire to see those left for diana, and was glad to hear the singing of old protest songs, and songs in praise of africa and see the queue snaking around the building of people wishing to sign the book of condolence, very moving.
so many rights and freedoms demonstrated for over the years in and around trafalgar sq. gay rights, section 28, age of consent etc, poll tax, baying for thatchers blood before she stood down, it is a great city, but does not often get the leaders it deserves, lets hope south africa can find a leader it deserves not the self serving it has had since mandela left office.
the day ends with a bus ride to brixton, friendly chatty, busy, what happened to londoners? i fucking love the diversity of this city, grocery stores with produce from around the world, hairdressers for brazilians, africans, west indians, a short back and side, patties, pasties, and empanadas, accents, languages, some gorgeous men ( a natural bias, sorry, some gorgeous women too), and supermarkets selling a third of a bottle of decent sparkling wine for £2.50.
and so to bed, and refusing to see anything bad, i am a visitor, i will wear my rose tinted glasses because i can, i’m only here a week.
- Icon or terrorist: Nelson Mandela’s complex bond with Britain (independent.co.uk)
- Nelson Mandela: London pays its respects outside South Africa House (telegraph.co.uk)
- Remembering Nelson Mandela To view more photos and videos… (instagram.com)
- Tears at Parliament Square statue as Londoners gather to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, ‘the last great man’ (standard.co.uk)