London, United Kingdom
There’s been a lot of hubbub over the last few days about the Qantas strike as well as the worsening floods in Thailand, both cause for concern in their own right and in terms of my onward journey. It looks like I might not be going anywhere… and I don’t think I mind. None the less, I popped into Trailfinders travel agency yesterday to confirm that the flying kangaroo has once again taken to the friendly skies and at this point is still bouncing in and out of Bangkok. I’ll need to keep an eye on the situation and of course my thoughts are with everyone in Thailand who has lost their loved ones and their homes. I may yet need to make the decision about the ethics of traveling to a destination in crisis. On the one hand, perhaps I can be of assistance (if in no other way than with my tourist dollars) but on the other, I’d hate to see precious resources diverted to save my skin if I never should have taken there in the first place. Time will tell.
But until then, I’m still in London with much to see and do. Up to this point, I hadn’t done a comprehensive tour of the shopping meccas of Oxford and Regent Streets and thought that I ought to for reasons of completeness. I was wrong. I’m not a shopper, at least not the high street variety and especially not in this current phase which is more about divesting rather than accumulating. With that in mind, it was a pretty quick trot from Oxford Circus down to Marble Arch where I couldn’t resist walking the few extra blocks to visit the first place Matthew and I called home in London back in 1999 (after months of mooching off Saint Michele to whom I remain indebted in gratitude). 42 Harrowby Street looks much the same as it ever did and there was little emotional stirring at the sight of it. Happy memories of course (and some creepy ones too regarding our fellow bedsitters) but ones that have long since settled. Still, it was there to be seen so I saw it and looped back down the other side of Oxford Street.
The Christmas lights are already hung along both Regent and Oxford Streets but not yet lit. There’s a chill in the air that makes me wish I was staying just a little longer to see them switched on. Each year that I lived here, it was one of my favourite things to do. Although Christmas for me means hot weather, my years in cold climates have left an indelible yearning for the white Christmas’. At least the major department stores – Selfridges, Debenhams, John Lewis, House of Fraser – have gotten ahead of themselves and were lit up like Christmas trees making the walk back towards Oxford Circus far more fantastical.
I’ve also managed to squeeze in a few films. I saw both Drive and Melancholia at the Soho Curzon (cheap tickets before 2pm, Monday to Friday). The former was far more gruesome than I’d anticipated though quite forgettable as opposed to the latter which was slow turning but stunning and will stay with me for a long time to come. Last night Vic, Pete and I met up at the Roxy in Brixton to see The Ides of March. I’m not sure whether my last job in politics gives me any greater insight when watching political movies but it certainly makes them more entertaining! At any rate, it was nice to see Mr Gosling again so soon. The late 70’s certainly were a good vintage for Ryan’s in Canada – Reynolds, Gosling, MacLean…
After the movie, the 3 of us had a monstrous dinner at Byron Burger, a chain that seems to have taken root since my last visit. We over-ordered and over-ate and left as very happy customers!
This afternoon, I got a bus back out to Ham to meet the newest kid on the block – Ms Mabel Lucienne Ireland. As expected, Hazel bought her beautiful bundle of joy into the world while I was off galavanting with my own mum. Introductions were made and I was immediately smitten with this gorgeous girl. She tired herself out soon enough and slept while Hazel and I talked about all manner of things until the sun went down.
As I said goodbye, I was aware that I’d started making my final rounds and although there’s sadness in that, there’s also joy in knowing that I now have another little reason to come back for.