Published: November 8th 2009November 8th 2009
London is changing me.
Because, on a rainy Friday at 5pm, I can link arms with my tall daughter whilst using one umbrella and walk freely and anonymously to a place that we just can choose at that moment. And that the choice will be amazing.
Today, if you make the choice to go to the National Portrait gallery with a young woman by your side, these things could happen
whilst your daughter will try to pass a man in a big bear costume handing out marketing outside a theatre, he could choose to hug her because your tall daughter is very tall and she stands out in a fake fur coat.
And the bear will turn his bear nose up, yes up, to touch her cheek as if whispering or as if kissing her and he will embrace her in the middle of Piccadilly circus and you'll laugh out loud and all the people around will also laugh whilst your daughter hides her face as if from a kiss from a bear.
and instead of letting go, the bear could, as he did with patti, squeeze tighter, just for the appropriate length of time - not
too long, not too short and when you both walk away laughing in the dark at the thought of what you have just seen, it is warm and right and british.
Then, if you continue on under that umbrella in the dark rain to the National Gallery and turn the corner to the portrait gallery, today, you will be lucky enough to see a great exhibition - The Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize and you will remember what it is like to instinctively feel interesting work and you will be lost in the gallery crowd as will your daughter - lost in your own worlds reading the little signs, looking and looking at the work to look into it until eventually, your eyes and mind will rest on a very moving portrait of a forgotten woman of genocide and you will be moved to stand still looking into that woman’s face whilst tracing her tears and your breathing will become deeper and if you have been to the Nanjing Memorial museum, you will link the atrocities of women across the world across time.
You’ll turn to scan the room to see your daughter to ask her to also look
at the image but she will be ready for your turn and she will say, ‘I waited for you to see it - I just knew your reaction’ I cannot feel what the woman feels but stepping outside my space, I am next to her but still cannot help.
Being in London means I can do this, share time, share thought, be inspired
My London is this and more.
On a Saturday, it’s easy to frequent the deli on Hammersmith Grove and, if there is a space, sit with others on benches on either side of the 24ft table that reaches the length of the shop, where everyone sits and reads the paper or chats, eats, drinks, smiles, meets, talks, reads, relaxes, flirts and flatters or like me, opens like a piece of paper whilst reading a hand written letter from Mark.
at the deli, sitting opposite a posh woman and a nice guy their life is spills over me in loud voices talking of people they know who are called pippa and ella and it occurs to me that their names don't end in eey like mine and I notice that most posh people's names
end in o or a?
but the place is perfect, new faces, new mixes of voices and cultures or total anonymity to be yourself and good food.
here, I turn the gift of a brooch in my hand, turn it and turn it until I know it. The world closes in again. whilst i feel it, their words flow over me I don’t hear them because i'm bored by their open discussions, bragging, advice giving self important comments. And all I can feel is the brooch silently, holding it like a sea bean in my palm Soon, breakfast arrives. grenola with yoghurt and fresh berries of red and black and purple blueberries like seed pearls and a bowl of hot chocolate.
Tomorrow I start work and I’m excited about it.
I just need to find the ground floor garden flat with bay French windows into the garden next, get the bike down here from Derbyshire and the weekends will be complete.
There are more photos below