Walking on clouds

Tuesday night, after a very good day. Got plenty done, enjoyed a glass (OK, a bottle) of wine, cooked some fine seabass on my six-ring. Now it’s late, and I’m smiling and sobbing on my balcony, as usual on such days.


There’s just so much good stuff in the world. All you can do, sometimes, is just stand with a glass of wine and think and wonder. It’s just too much to take in.

This world – this city, even; my own tiny part of existence – is just beyond incredible. London is the greatest of cities, in this greatest of all possible worlds.

The brave obloid of Canary Wharf, dead for a decade before bursting into life and dragging London’s entire trillion-pound centre of gravity eastwards. Now it blinks wet-eyed into the night sky awash with the shifting stars’ admiration of it. On every plane coming in, a hundred voices chant out loud when that Cleopatra’s Needle on the Isle of Dogs hoves into view. It seems just metres from where I stand, a mere two storeys up, on my little concrete balcony.

The organic curves of St Mary’s Axe, also visible from my balcony, greatest of the Fosteresque high-techs, points accusingly into the sky at the top of my local shopping street. They should have put a bell at the top. It could scream into the nothing, yelling great solemn orgies of brass giganticism for the sheer hell of it.

The City, itself, its endless corners and alleys. I know barely a tenth of it. The little wooden church that somehow survived two centuries; the 200 pubs that thrive when modern beer lorries can hardly park outside. The city beneath the streets – you see it sometimes, looking down through roadworks and the odd grille – of passages and service crawlways between the surface and the Tubes, sometimes visible going down eight storeys, causing a switch in perception from standing on solid ground to feeling we’re just floating on a soap bubble of precarious temporarity.

There are a million hidden corners in my city. And I want to know them all.

The three kilometres of human joy I walked through on the riverfront on Sunday after the Duathlon outside the city… the strange, uplifted glory of the mass of people enjoying the simple pleasures of street theatre and frying onions. That’s great too. I’m usually stiff as a board two days after an event, but today – almost nothing. The ride and walk home, through my amazing city, calmed the stuff of my muscles.

And there’s a woman. Or rather there’s not. BUT sometimes it’s enough just to know such women exist, that the most cynical of hearts can at least… feel. I broke up with a truly amazing woman earlier this year, after realising the life I’d have had with her would never have been enough. When you’ve met TMBGITW*, even if she has no feelings for you, you can’t be satisfied with any other, ever. And I think about her, every twenty seconds, day and night. On a good day, when I haven’t seen her for a few days, it drops to forty seconds. Sometimes.

She’s young, and she likes me, but she doesn’t like me enough: and that shall be my triumph and that shall be my tragedy. (With apologies to Neil Gaiman and Ebliss O’Shaughnessy.)

But there’s plenty left over in my city. Buildings. Opera. Theatre. Food. And the walking, thousands of kilometre of history and discovery, that it’s not possible to ever get bored with. And I won’t.

There’s too much good stuff in the world. And I’m going to experience all of it.

*The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.

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