Saturday, August 20, 2005

escaping the beast

"London is horrible" said the man with prophetic beard, and the biggest smelliest dreadlocks I've ever seen "everything about it was designed to frustrate civic life. To leave no room for human interaction. No squares, no piazzas, no place to stop and have a chat, just a constant uninterrupted flow of people."
"it's so... ugly" he concluded, his eyes grinning; he paid for his lentils and left.
He's been living here for 25 years.

London is so easy to hate. It's so hideously big polluted expensive dirty unfriendly ugly and grey... thinking about ten things i hate about it would take me 30 seconds. Thinking about 10 things i like would take much longer. I could never say I love it; it sounds too uncomplicated and straightforward. Can you love a monster? but I can't hate it either. But as P says: it has a throbbing heart. It's alive, you can't be indifferent to it. It will embrace you and take care of you, or it will kill you.

One of the strangest things about London is that it locks you in. Escaping seems impossible. Each summer we make resolutions to go to the countryside. to travel to Wales, or at least go bathing in Hampsted Heath, go cycling in Epping Forest.. it never happens. It's not just me: everyone I know find it very difficult to get out of here. Maybe it's the enormity of the low-rise city, sprawling for miles in all directions. Maybe it's the way it overwhelms your mind, fragments it, seduces it, terrifies it...

* * *

But if it all goes well, S and me are off to Cumbria and the Lake district next week.

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