Tuesday, 19 May 2009

London notes with limited battery

This will be disjointed and probably end abruptly when my laptop dies. You are forewarned, read on at your own risk.

Ah, London. I am shoved in the corner of a non-moving Central Line carriage while something unspeakable is sorted out at Queensway and a crazy man mutters behind me when I catch sight of the front page of the Mirror someone is reading below me. FREE PASTY FOR EVERY READER! it trumpets, followed by a full page of Katie 'n' Peter. I almost weep for joy. Home. I want to fashion myself a nest out of discarded copies of London Lite and Benjy's cups and stay here forever.

Not yet on auntie duty, I get a whole day to myself to wander gleefully around London. Oddly, this time I don't feel the usual compulsion to go and gather up as much Stuff as I can to bring little pieces of London back with me (surely I am not becoming economically responsible? No, impossible), and instead content myself with wandering luxuriantly slowly through Liberty (complete redesign! mainly positive, the useless vague waitresses in the cafe remain and the terrifying Japanese room of assymetry still exists), Fenwicks (discovered they have moved all the stuff I like - Sonia, Erotokritos, Paul & Joe - up to the top floor), Selfridges and Boots in turn, carefully marvelling at the endless loveliness. I sit alone and very peacefully in Liberty cafe drinking Darjeeling and eating a large slice of victoria sponge; it is blissful. Violet and I meet up in our usual Carluccios haunt in Fenwicks basement for more tea and hilarity and for me to marvel at the gigantic creature she appears to be cooking up. Violet's boyfriend, chosen particularly for his extremely narrow shoulders, appears to be something of a disappointment in the cooking of small babies department.

Next observation: I have become an out of towner, dressing up and putting my face on to go 'up west' like the cast of Eastenders. This is chastening for a girl who used to live 2 minutes off Oxford Street and often went down there for the paper in her pyjamas. I totter down South Molton Street in my tiny Vanessa Bruno silk dress and Ferragamos, looking for all the world like an escaped footballers wife who took a wrong turn on the way to Gucci. Ridiculous. Unfortunately some kind of mental collapse occurred whilst I was packing and I have FIVE short black dresses, no pyjamas, no flat shoes and only one pair of trousers that I have already stained with ginger exfoliating scrub. I have to buy a toothbrush and break my Ferragamos falling over my own legs. I am a packing failure of immense proportions.

After a day of intense joy with my favourite city in the entire universe, I collapse into the bearded one's Notting Hill lair (he is out saving the world) and sleep for 12 hours, waking up very briefly to blearily eat some chocolate and drink a pint of water. It rains intermittently and the posh school next door is jasmine scented. I feel like I am on drugs, actually feeling rested, drinking decent cappucinos and inhaling the scent of buses, rainy streets pigeon faeces and Subway. It is AMAZING.

Next, BMF and I hole up in the Wolseley to compare notes on our respective midlife crises over breakfast. They are both coming along nicely. In another five years the pair of us will be in an asylum, hopefully the same one, so we can bitch about the standards of catering and share delusions. Once we have character assasinated ourselves sufficiently and I am climbing the walls with caffeine poisoning, I head off to poison myself still further with the opium of BOOKS, where my abstemious approach to London breaks down and I can barely drag my bag out of Hatchards. I haven't even been to Daunt yet. (Add any other purchase recommendations in the comments, I have to stock up while I can, even at the cost of breaking my back carrying them back to Brussels)


Later today I will finally get around to doing what I came here for and go and see my brother and my niece and nephew and my bubble of selfish joy will be popped because what is happening to them all is unbearable and should not be allowed. And I will sit uselessly and shoot my lame mouth off and try and think of things to say that are not rubbish. And it will be impossible because everything I can think to say is rubbish. But at least I can bring books on mummification and Power Rangers and other kinds of tat and be around, huddling.

Also, I am sitting writing this in Pain Quotidien, because apparently, I cannot get enough of Belgium. I am clearly a freak and even my pathetic excuses of ginger cake and WiFi cannot excuse me.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

you are wonderfully funny, I have been afraid to write up until now for fear of being shot down by some witty comment. but this account of your day in London has made me fall back in love with it!

My thoughts with you and the family over next few days*

(*and other useless things people say in times of difficulty)

Oystergirl said...

If you have time, go to the Orangery near Kensington Palace for tea- it's located at the back of the rows of perfectly pruned hedges in the garden of the Palace. All white, very restful interior, and I always ogle those gorgeous white marble decorative urns......

Kim Bah Lee said...

I'm intrigued by the free pasty.

If they gave away free pasties with the papers in the Belgium, I'd be tempted to start reading again.

What do you think the Belgian equivalent would be?

I'm not sure I've ever received anything for free in Brussels, beyond the tiny canettes of diuretic soft drinks they dish out from time to time at traffic lights.

I offer platitudes similar to those of your first anonymous commenter.

Antonia said...

Welcome home! I'm glad you got to wander through Liberty at liberty. I know you love doing that. Me too.

See you tomorrow. I'll bring goats.

Bath bun said...

I am soo jealous. I am sitting here listening to the sounds of the kids in the gulag playground drifting through the back door and dreaming of London. I am off there on a day trip with the girls next week and wondering whether it would be rude to just leave them at the station and spend the day alone pleasing myself - after all do I want to play tour guide to a Finn, a Belge, a Frenchie etc

Where to from here? said...

You are indeed wonderfully funny and it is a treat to read your post from London.

I just wish I was blogworthy enough to be at your lunch with LLG and Mrs Trefusis - two other blog favourites.

I'll be thinking of you having to deal with such awful family stuff and hope you have time to write more from here.

Would love to be able to send you a bag of London's best bagels

Margarita said...

It sounds like you spent a lovely day in London! Shopping - even window shopping - is always fun! And I'm sure you look amazing in the Ferragamos - that's all that matters :)

Layla said...

Give Liberty and Hatchards big sticky embrace from me - just realised I haven't been in London, or England, for that matter, for 2 WHOLE YEARS.
If you like crime fiction, 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; & 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' are best I have read in ages. Icelandic crime fiction obviously to be avoided at all costs.

I am currently being completely overwhelmed by sudden waves of BADNESS due to unfortunate fallling-in-love incident this week. Wasn't expecting it. Tormented. Will email..

Enjoy -as much as you can - the rest of your stay. Positive thoughts winging their way towards your brother. Can't remember if I've mentioned it, but I do actually know what this is like.

Iheartfashion said...

London sounds lovely! I just enjoyed the novel Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, by Geoff Dyer, if you're looking for a good read.
And I'm thinking of your brother and his family. Nothing comforting to say about it-it's just terrible and I sympathize.

Sarah said...

Confession: I didn't want to see like a crazy stalker type (and indeed may still do), but I served you in Daunt today and was too shy to say hello. I love your blog, it was nice to almost meet you!

katyboo1 said...

Glad your day has been fabulous. Second Layla on the book recommendations. Jason is reading them avidly and I am next in line. He is pre-ordering the third, and that is not like him at all.

Mitford letters, obviously, though I expect you've already read it. Am in love with the whole thing.

Hope your huddling goes well.xx

Mya said...

I know envy is not a nice trait, but I can't bloody help it. I miss London, even more when you evoke it so well.You make smelling of pigeon poo almost aspirational.Sending positive vibes to you and yours.

Mya x

Potty Mummy said...

Welcome home. If we do end up moving to Moscow I may have to give up your blog as your London posts will probably make me weep...

Jaywalker said...

Yay, Sarah! Hello! I wish you had said hello it would have made me feel like Dale Winton. Thank you for serving me in Best Bookshop In the World Ever.

The Subtle Rudder said...

Glad you've had a little londondelight before the huddling commences.

Here's a project for when you're back in Belgium: http://tinyurl.com/q4gqzel. I can just see the cracker-baras now.

My wv is "clapu," which I imagine is a powder like the colorful pollen you get from lilies; you know the stuff, it stains your fingers and clothes and gets passed along from hand to hand, like a vivid STD. Be careful, don't spread the clapu to the frocks at Liberty!

(Very) Lost in France said...

London.......sigh! Rural France just isn't quite the same. VLiF

monk said...

For your sake, I hope you never feel like Dale Winton.

Keep inhaling the London, it seems to wear off pretty quickly back here. Although I am designing prototype waffle bebe elephant, so all not lost.

monk said...

wv anesome

A really superlatively excellent bottom

Jaywalker said...

Anon - oh you are so lovely. I am all out of witty anyway, I only have half-witted.

Oystergirl - how hard do you think it would be to just pinch an urn? Maybe if we got together and rolled it?

KimBahLee - Oh, come. What about the teeny tiny snacks with your coffee? Or the chocolates near the Grand Place? And I DEFINITELY once got a sachet of Oncle Ben's Microwave Rice. Not as good as an old school Liverpool St senseless bag of promotional rubbish though, I grant you..

Antonia - You bring goats, I'll bring an urn and possibly a capybara. And a coffee stained tongue. We'll be unstoppable.

Bath Bun - you can easily lose them. Take them to Harrods food hall then sneak away and pretend you 'got separated, it was really busy'

Where to from Here - thank you so much. I hardly feel worthy of the fabulousness of lunch with the illustrious ladies either, hence the total packing fail. Bagels HELL YES another thing to cram into my teeny tiny book filled suitcase

Margarita - they were great before I broke them. Now they are just shameful. Ah, well.

Layla - I have tried to find your email to press you for details but it must be at work. TELL THE HOLY TORTOISE. We must know. Yes the Larssons are good, waiting for no. 3. All gloomy scandi crime is good for me though, however despairing and black.


Iheart - thank you so much for the recommendation, I will take it back to Sarah and torment her for it.

Katyboo - thanks ducks. Wonder what the film will be like? It was just out in Belgique.

Mya - would you like a neatly packaged up copy of Metro, a £2 single bus ticket and some detritus from La Croissanterie at Waterloo (officially the worst smelling bakery in the world)? It helps with the cravings..

Potty Mummy - Moscow eh. Um, courage. Lots of it.

Subtle Rudder - cracker baras! And maybe a cracker homage to the new baby elephant?

VLiF - sorry darling. Would you like a care package like the one I offered Mya?

screamish said...

mmmm ginger cake.

cant believe you now have fans randomly serving you in bookshops. bravo!

big bises for you and your brother...

Summer said...

Sounds you had a great time in London.Looking forward on your next post.Have a great day ahead.=)

A Writers Den
The Brown Mestizo

kathycastro said...

Hello!

Glad to see you working your way through the best bits. Was Marylebone High Street kind to you?

Must also know which Ferragamos you broke? Fuchsia? Violet? And did you *ahem* acquire anything interesting at The Wolseley??

Miss you lots, finding it hard to converse being so many time zones away. Huggy thoughts for the rest of the week. My painted toenails (currently: grape) and I salute you. X

Solo said...

Oh,sounds fun.Hope to see more from you.Have a nice day.;D

Travel and Living

fabhat said...

It's rather nice to know you are in London - with the hope of chance sighting of Jaywalker, books, shoes and bagels in hand elegently sliding between the traffic in Mount St. I hope the jolly bits of your sejourn are lovely - and the awful bits not as grim as you fear.

Laura Jane said...

Oh Em, such a delight for you to be in London, even though for such an appalling reason.

I well remember the pleasure of seeing one's own language in a bookshop after months of 'starvation'.

I hope everything goes as well as it can for your brother's surgery, and that you enjoy being an aunty for a few days.

Thinking of you

Chantal said...

You are in London! Hoorah for that (if not the reason).

I am at your Clerkenwell disposal.

xx

westendmum said...

Free pastys won't save the Mirror, ooh or did they mean pasties? (as worn by Dita!) .
Welcome home sweetpea hope it goes ok.

Mr Farty said...

London sounds wonderful the way you describe it. Absence makes the heart etc.

Sending warm thoughts. x

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