For now at least. Because it doesn’t seem at all real. Perhaps because I have not moved into somewhere else. There is no other home. Most of my things now sit boxed and bagged beneath the eves of my wonderful friend Heather’s loft, she and Geoffrey, Mark and I having completed one of the labours of Hercules to get them up there. They are safe.
I have a strange ache along my right side, but it’s fast disappearing.
I have no home.
I do have Mark, which is where my heart is. And a corner here, and some of the books I hope to use for research and writing over the summer.
London is an impossible city to say goodbye to.
Above all I will miss people. I know I should have had some kind of evening, some kind of open goodbye kind of a party, but I didn’t have the heart for it. Too much to plan on top of everything else. Moving house, massive academic job applications, a blog for the British Library, articles to finish. The anniversary of my dad’s death, which always knocks me a bit endways. My birthday thrown in there, and me hitting a decade mark. My birthday was the last time I talked to my dad when he was really with it, before fever had sent him delirious. He was already in hospital then. I miss him terribly. He’d quite enjoy my farming plans, as my mum does.
Starting this evening, I will be farming. So this blog will change a bit from cities to countryside, from academic literature to orchards and lambs. It will probably be much more exciting for a while.
But this last one… Goodbyes. Endings. I suppose always most important is people. I said goodbye to a few of the people I love most that I love London for having brought me, but not all. Not close. True friends never have to say forever goodbyes though. Goodbye to LSE, which I won’t miss really, but Holborn and Lincolns Inn Fields I really will.
Easier was to make a list of places I had not yet seen and see a last few of them — that also made me feel that I had done well to see so much because it wasn’t actually that long a list. Freud’s house and a last visit to Kew Gardens and the self-built council flats in Lewisham and the dinosaurs in Crystal Palace are the things I regret not managing to squeeze in. I blame the marathon, because the plan was always to leave on Sunday not Saturday. But plans change I guess.
Because it was my birthday weekend last weekend, we hit the town a little bit. I have never really done the cocktail thing here, so we did it. Friday we went to the cocktail bar in St Pancras Hotel — the ridiculous gaudy Victorian creation of Gilbert C. Scott who bequeathed his name to the bar. I loved it. The cocktails were marvelous as well, and a touch of absinthe always brings bubbly happiness — which is the opposite of what I always think it’s supposed to do, but I fist learned otherwise with the marvelous Switchblade cocktail created for our noir imprint. My phone was out of juice, I got no pictures.
Goodbye to my beloved Brixton and Brixton Village, the latin brunch place with Olive Morris on the wall and delicious food and intense hot sauce:
A last show at the National Theatre — Les Blancs by Lorraine Hansberry.
Chancery Lane to my favourite pub (apart from the Effra), the Seven Stars
More cocktails starting at Simpsons in the Strand — first learned of it the old film Sabotage (1936) as THE place to go for a steak. We went for martinis instead, but never do the floral gin martini thing.
As a place Simpsons as a whole does have a lovely old-elegance atmosphere, and chess is everywhere as this was once the place for that. The cocktail bar not quite as exciting.
At this point I was brave enough to walk boldly into the Savoy and ask where the cocktails were at. There are two bars there, the woman suggested we try both, and that sounded like a really good idea. We started in this black and gold room full of beautiful young things and with some guy playing the piano in that sickly sweet sort of way that college boys think will get them laid. There were pop-up books with an around-the-world in cocktails theme, making you remember once again that Empire hasn’t really gone away. There was a £12,000 pound cocktail using up a barrel of rather ancient rum, a number of others around the £650 and £750 mark, and then a few for under £20. Ours were nice enough.
The American Bar in the Savoy was much better. Of course it was, because this is where Lauren Bacall and Bogey used to hang out, and why we came here at all.
Cocktails were better here too — or maybe we just made better selections.
We called it an (expensive) night.
Sunday we went to the exhibit at the V&A Museum of Childhood — I’d never been, and was quite amazed to see all of the toys I’d wanted growing up and never been able to afford. In that sense we agreed it was a little bit of a museum of the commodification of childhood, but it was still pretty awesome to see these guys, my favourite action figures apart from stormtroopers:
Some of the old motion picture/camera toys were amazing too.
And this was a special moment:
Really though, we were there to see first the exhibition on child migration, which was small but powerful and I think I shall write more about it later — I never knew that thousands of children were sent to the colonies until reading about Dr Barnardo, but it is such a chilling chapter in our history.
Second, and most wonderful was the special section on Peter Firmin and his marvelous creations with Oliver Postgate. Bagpuss, Ivor the Engine, Nog, the Clangers.
From there we headed north, to see 2 Willow Rd, the home built by Erno Goldfinger — the home that pissed Ian Flemming off so much he created a villain in the architect’s honour. Of course, I cared more about the modernist archietct of the Balfour tower and etc.
On the way we passed the rather palatial residence of the Fabian Webbs:
A bit of contrast, as you can see.
This was brilliant (I couldn’t take pictures of the wonderful art, it is full of wonderful art).
More contrast again with Keats’ home
Or this classic
We wandered to the Spaniards Inn, old and lovely and part of the whole Dick Turpin highwayman mythology and also well known to Keats, Dickens and others — sadly now overflowing with people we didn’t care for. Though I don’t know I would have cared much for Keats either. We wandered back through lovely woods, passed Evelyn Waugh’s house.
Finished up with birthday dinner at Rules — again my phone dead. Oldest restaurant in London. Mostly tourists in there, and hunting trophies on the walls and leather and wood.
Then just a long week of goodbyes, packing, goodbyes. A last poetry reading at St Katharine’s yurt lates. A mad concert to see Shostakovitch played by the Borodin Quartet at Wigmore Hall the night before I moved. Frantic packing, moving, hauling, loading, cleaning. Trains and hauling. Sore muscles and sore heart.
Goodbye London. I might even be back, but I think you are far too expensive for me.
And now let the interim farming adventure begin.