Tuesday, 16 June 2009

In which I might be stalking London

Don't think I didn't see you, today London. I saw you. I didn't have long, but I saw you. Yeah, I know. I'm with Brussels now. You're a free city. But must you taunt me so?

I saw you, down the Embankment, flirting with all those other girls in their micro shorts and gladiator sandals and slightly unnerving romper suits, sitting on tiny patches of grass drinking Frappucinos. To think I agonised about wearing my perfectly respectable dress whose seam has only split ever so slightly at the back! When you were off, carousing with half dressed tarts, showing them your giant shiny wheel and your big, oh, so impressive river. You're shameless, London. That was Our Wheel! When it first opened and we rode down on the Vespa on impulse one warm Saturday evening at dusk, and walked straight onto it, no queues. Now you're sharing Our Wheel with other girls? That's sick, London. You have no respect for my feelings at ALL.

I saw you too, from the depths of the Victoria Line, impotently furious at my shameful tourist's Oyster Card, making out of towners cry with the unimaginable terror and heat of your satanic Underground Trains (you should not do that, it is cruel, London. They don't have an underground in Keighley). And the grim stoicism of the commuter ladies, standing, swaying just slightly, in thick black opaque hosiery reading Dan Brown and Metro.

I saw you on the concourse at St Pancras, dodging the physics defying, multidirectional stream of commuters, then on Westminster Bridge with the peanut sellers, the bus tour leaflet pushers, the salmonella ice cream van and even the man holding a small, not terribly impressive brown snake to pose with for photos (Westminster Bridge, earth has not anything to show more fair, except, wait, wouldn't it look better if we put this SNAKE round our necks? Yeah!).

I saw you in Marks & Spencers when I was stocking up on yoghurt and falafels, taunting me, flaunting your gorgeous aisles of open all hours, pre-prepared fruit and vegetables. I might have known you'd be hanging around there. You never change, do you?

I could still just catch a glimpse of you, receding, in the Eurostar terminal WHSmiths, where the lady on the tills told me that she eats her Cadbury's Caramels, bite for bite, with Jalapeño McCoys crisps and I told her she was a very sick individual, and we laughed, and the queueing Dutch schoolchildren and French students did not get it at all. That was when I lost sight of you. You could at least have left me a Peanut Butter Chunky KitKat when you left, dammit! You are so unfeeling.

So don't think you can just slink away like that London. I saw you. And I'll be back, I'm warning you. You and I have unfinished business.


exromana said...

what an Ode to London. I really love the way you write. London, what a tramp. But you still love her.

fourstar said...

You might have said. I'd have pretended to bake a cake or something.

WV = 'subter' which is alarmingly apt given your Tube obsession :)

a lady said...

every time you write to or about or from london I inch closer to caving and shelling out for the transatlantic ticket, if only to nap in the grass after drinking a bottle of red in russell square and then trip down to southbank for an evening adventure.

and, speaking as someone in what feels like a similar place as you at the moment (with the sleeping and the alone and the general listness surrender to, well, anything), your posts are a bright spot in an otherwise dim and solitary room. all my love and gratitude,

Fat Controller said...

No matter how long you've been away, getting back to London is like putting on a favourite, comfortable but rather shabby pair of shoes.

Fortunately I have stockpiles of peanut butter chunky kit kat and Twinings Earl Grey to get me through until next time.

smackcrumplebang said...

this is so complex. it makes me hurt - the twists, the turns, the tenses.

If I had read this when I was 12 I probably would have cried through lack of comprehension for the complex personification.

Earlier I spilt coffee down my t-shirt, now I look like im lactating stale milk and, offputtingly I smell like pee (which is infact coffee)

redfox said...

I am going to be in London NEXT WEEK. It has been six years. Of course I've never lived there (though I still dream that I'll figure out a way to do it without bankrupting us) but such a gap is still utterly ridiculous and wrong and I am so, so very eager for next week to come. If you or anyone else would like to live vicariously through me feel free to give me marching orders.

3limes said...

You have expressed well how I often feel about London. It makes me so cross to miss it.

HelenSparkles said...

I miss London so much, yet she is hard to love at times (like on the tube/furnace in summer. This is just totally brilliant writing about a city I love and miss. I don't think I will ever move back but I am hoping OH will agree to retire there. I can't think of anything better, my grandparents had the most fabulous retirement, taking free buses to the parks etc.

westendmum said...

You made me go all misty eyed and I'm here already.

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