London

Well, i finally made it, but what an ‘interesting’ journey!

i should never have mentioned that fateful phrase ‘weather permitting’ in my last entry… i should have known it was inviting disaster!

The journey should have taken around 3 hours: it actually took 6; we hit a blizzard at Reading and were managing a respectable 12mph when the driver was told to abandon plans for getting into London and divert to Heathrow instead. Great if i’d been catching a flight, not so great for getting into town! Eventually we reached Heathrow, where a further bus was found that eventually got me into Victoria at 2pm. The late arrival meant some last minute changes to my schedule – i’m afraid my planned injection of culture (ie. Tate Britain, followed by a stroll around the Tate Modern), had to go by the wayside. At least my schedule wasn’t as ruined as the two poor girls sat in front of me, who decided to simply stay on the bus and go straight back home – since New York was now just not going to happen for them.

It wasn’t all bad news though… the extended journey meant that i could do plenty of writing and i managed to get about 3000 words down! The countryside was also well worth seeing (not sure it was worth all 6 hours though!) and was breathtakingly, stunningly, beautiful under its blanket of snow, shrouded in mist.

First stop was The Stables in Camden Town – mainly because i was absolutely starving but also because i love the atmosphere and there were a few things on my shopping list that i was sure i could find there. On the way, walking past the Roundhouse i was convinced i saw Josielo – daft really, since i have absolutely no idea what she looks like in rl – sl does funny things to your brain sometimes. Speaking of which, i really do think that this market is the closest you can get to sl, without leaving the real world… the place is so eclectic: it’s such a melting pot of diversity, colours, music and the unexpected. Where else can you go from shamanic drumming to techno, with a background of retro pop, all within earshot of each other? (i’ll tell you where… sl!). The same with the clothing, furniture and accessories – wandering amongst the stalls reminds me so much of going shopping in sl – you even get lag, as bemused French tourists clog the narrow passageways in front of you!

Even so, i found myself wondering what on earth has happened to the place? It seems to have become less edgy, more conventional and i can’t say that i approve (and what’s with all the horsey statuary? – very tacky). In fact, some of my favourite shopping  ‘experiences’ have been so over-sanitised and commercialised, for want of a better word, i came away feeling quite disappointed. Perhaps the fire did more damage than simply burning the fabric of the place.

Ah well, i had a rather tasty tagine of chicken, accompanied by The Cure, followed by a cracking espresso out of a paper cup – really perked me up ready for shopping. Sadly, the one thing i really wanted, i wasn’t able to find, (please don’t laugh when i tell you!): i was looking for a proper Nirvana t-shirt but completely failed to find one. Years ago i bought one there but i’ve worn it threadbare, so i was hoping to find a new one, but it wasn’t to be. i did, however, almost buy – but in the end chickened out – a hoodie. To be specific, a Clockwork Orange hoodie, resplendent with droogs – the only problem was the colour which, if i’m absolutely honest, would have made me look more like a chocolate orange, than a clockwork one!

Off for a wander down Camden High Street (is it my imagination, or have all the cool shops vanished?), i bumped into a dozen Santa Clauses coming the other way. It got me pondering about what the appropriate collective noun for Father Christmasses might be… a festivity of Santa’s, perhaps? Typical that they should have descended upon me… it’s becoming quite obvious that i must have a tag floating above my head – invisible to myself -inviting escapees from fancy dress parties to congregate around me. This was again in evidence when, on boarding the tube, i was immediately surrounded by a group that included Ebenezer Scrooge, an Arthurian knight, a shepherd, a pirate and a greyhound (a real one – and no, not in costume). At the station, a busker was torturing Pachelbel’s Canon – i only mention it since this particular piece of music also seemed to follow me wherever i went today.

Covent Garden roses

i won’t tell you everywhere i went, or everything i did – that would be the literary equivalent of forcing you to view my holiday snaps, complete with running commentary. i will, however mention Covent Garden, which i love. i snaffled a rather nice bowl of Malaysian Chicken Soup with a hunk of malty bread there (before you ask, no – my whole day did not revolve around stuffing myself, but trudging round the streets of London does build an appetite… it also makes your knees hurt if you do it in the snow!). Rather charmingly, i thought, my repast was accompanied by an impromptu string quartet, who performed a lovely rendition of the Four Seasons (not all four, i hasten to add), followed by, (inevitably), Pachelbel’s Canon. [Incidentally, for a completely different take on the Four Seasons, check out Curved Air’s Vivaldi, subsequently re-done in part by Sky, on Sky2 – one of my most treasured albums on vinyl.]

There was also a chap juggling with chainsaws – i was half tempted to point him in the direction of this blog, and my last entry… who knows, it may help him live longer!

I was very pleased to find a Waterstones that actually had the book that no other Waterstones in the country appears to have, albeit only a single copy, which i now possess and so, apart from the Nirvana t-shirt, i was able to cross off all the items on my, admittedly extremely short, shopping list.

Throughout the day i’d been making contingency plans, just in case the weather proved too much for public transport. i’d seen that Heathrow had been closed and after my fraught journey in, i was half expecting to be stranded overnight. Be afraid Londoners… just imagine answering a knock at your door to find me stood on your doorstep asking to borrow your sofa for the night (coming to think of it, some of you have spent the odd sl night on mine!). However, it wasn’t to be – the bus was bang on time and i settled back in my seat, slipped off my shoes and thanked the gods of all things bus-like for smiling upon me.

Erm, spoke too soon, Haven! What is it with me and public transport? Why is it that i can’t step onto a bus (or fail to step onto it, like Friday), or a train without something daft happening? (Did i mention that the bus from Heathrow to Victoria developed a fault the second i embarked, causing the emergency exit alarm to sound very loudly for the whole 90 minute journey? – very pleasant!). This time the bus, which been perfectly serviceable prior to me getting on, didn’t want to start. We had to wait for a man in a van to come along with some jump leads before we could set off.

The bus has tinsel strung from window to window and the most garishly mismatched curtains i have ever seen – bronze paired with light blue – how lovely. So i shall ignore the curtains, and concentrate on typing up my notes from today, which should occupy me until the journey’s end, or until my battery runs out.

Day 26, Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
i’m guessing that by ‘giving up on life’ this question is referring to feeling suicidal, rather that any metaphorical ‘giving up’. Like many, many other people i’m sure, there have been times in my life where i’ve become so depressed and down that the thought about ‘ending it all’ has crossed my mind. It’s only ever been a fleeting thing though and not something i could ever see myself carrying through – i’m far too methodical, for one thing… the minute the thought would occur, i’d then find myself thinking about the aftermath, the effect it would have on other people and the practical issues that others would have to deal with if it happened. It’s also way too final as far as i’m concerned: some of the things i’ve been through have been monstrously hard to deal with at the time, but i’m still here and i survived and, on the whole, life these days isn’t so bad.

As for the ‘when and why’ – i know these questions are about the truth but, quite frankly, it’s none of your business. Suffice it to say that on the very few occasions i’ve felt that way there have been some common factors – circumstances have been completely outside my control; i’ve been surrounded by good people, but felt utterly alone and; i’d reached the utter limits of what i was capable of dealing with and felt complete and total despair.

S. x

Got a good reason, for taking the easy way out, now
She was a day….. tripper, one way ticket, yeah!
The Beatles – Day Tripper

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