Sunday, July 17, 2005

London Interlude

Not my normal trip.
On the train down the two minute silence was observed and half an hour before we got into London there was an appeal for anyone with information to go to the police at Kings Cross Station. At Kings Cross as I walked towards the bus stop to Highgate I came across a fenced off area which was being filled with flowers an other tributes, flags from football teams, pieces of paper, a sad one with ‘the killing of innocent people is a sin under Islam’ signed Bengalis from Leeds. There were lots of cameras and photographers milling round.
I was the last person to squeeze onto the 214 bus. Absolutely packed, we passed several busstops without stopping to the fury of the people standing there. Eventually I managed to move a bit further along the bus. As I stood there I thought about the people standing beside me, The man next to me had a staff badge from Moorfields Eye Hospital. I wondered if he was working with the victims of the bombings. Other people I eyed up and wondered if they could be potential bombers.
At Highgate I fled onto Parliament Hill. Stifling hot, the sun beat down. I slapped on sunscreen bought at the Body Shop in Kings Cross. Made phone calls home. Work quiet thank god! And I hadn’t permantly destroyed the excel sheet formulas… kitten feeder left message.. and I called back. I sat and watched life go by. People seemed more normal away from the urban morass of central London. A man with a Glaswegian accent and two young boys came by – they hadn’t picked up their fathers accent and spoke middle class North London. I speculated that the father had come south to further his career and had stayed. Two late teenagers walked by Boy ‘She’s so RICH – it’s great’. Man on mobile phone ‘I’ve got a meeting at the BBC at 12 tomorrow’.
On Friday I too the C2 bus to town. My hostess meanwhile had got her bicycle out of storage, swearing that she might be a genuine cockney but would NOT be going by underground again. About a third of the journey in a Muslim girl I would say late teens sat opposite me with a black scarf around her head. I was intent in looking out of the window – when I looked back over she had taken off the scarf and was busy putting on make up with the aid of a mirror, she then rearranged her hair. By central London she had I felt ‘de-Muslimified’ herself. A group of young Italian teenagers invaded the bus a few stops before I got off. Their teacher an anxious middle aged woman ran beside the bus as she couldn’t get on shouting ‘Pic-a-dilly Pic-a-dilly’ to the students inside. I told S about this later and she said ‘But that bus doesn’t go to Piccadilly. For all I know she’s still probably trying to track down her errant flock.
I worshipped at the sign of Libertys again then walked to Soho to meet my friend B for lunch. Afterwards I went to the Photographers Gallery and the Portrait Gallery. At 5pm I started to walk towards Embankment Underground station to cross the bridge to the South Bank. As I walked down Charing Cross Road two fire engines attempted to get through the traffic and failed. As I got to the narrow street leading towards the station I found it blocked off by police and barriers and was advised to walk along the Strand to get around the diversion. I crossed at the next bridge down and could see as I walked over the large swathe of the Embankment cleared of traffic and the jam of vehicles behind. While I was looking they allowed the free flow of traffic again.
From then on my trip was less eventful though the slowness of the transportation system in London is to been experienced to be believed. 95 mins Highgate to Westminster on Sat morning… I saw the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Tate Modern on Friday night. It was extraordinary to see an exhibition of artworks where the artist has used pain so directly in their creativity. I reminded me about how consciously I have been avoiding this possibility in my own works. People where visibly moved when looking at the works. On Sat I met another friend B to do a walk about Shakespeare. We ended up at the George the only pub owned by the National Trust for England with the nylon 70’s carpet carefully preserved… we then went to the Brough Market to have lunch sitting in Southwark cathedral grounds. After lunch we stood for 2 hours watching The Tempest at the Globe Theatre. Amazing building, wonderful acting but my legs begged for the play to be 45 mins shorter. It was agony.

Now I’m back it feels a bit like a dream.


m said...

Forgot to add while waiting for a bus yesterday someone came up and asked directions I couldn't help her being from Edinburgh but the woman beside me was very helpful to the enquirer. I felt to me that people were being much more kind and concerned than on previous trips to London.

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