Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New Years Day, London, 2013

The day dawned cold, crisp and bright.

We had not caroused late and drunk or danced until dawn, so we were up early enough to spot the weary revelers who were making their way home with legs of lead and waxy complexions,looking like straggling troops from the homeless army that camps out on London's streets the rest of the year.

At Christmas and New Year, another army, this time of volunteers, supplies hands and willing hearts to help accommodate the homeless in temporary shelters run by Crisis at Christmas and other charities, so these poor broken souls are given some respite by their sturdier brethren, leaving the way clear for the sporadic drunks of the New Year tradition, though most of these have a home to go to and manage to find it eventually.

Our first stop was at an Arabic cafe on Porchester Road which is always open and serves us a fine latte as we are stared at inquisitively by curious Bedouin from the surrounding deserts of Paddington and Little Venice.

From there, we make our way up to Regents Park, with Elena's Mum in her wheelchair, who is keen to take the invigorating air and feel the soft sun on her face.

The Park is spacious and elegant, a great green carpet laid out across the northern rim of central London, with Primrose Hill above it and the Marylebone Road below it. Wise old trees stand strong and still at respectable distances from each other and an ornamental lake plays host to a united nations of migrant ducks,herons,swans, geese and others, all of which are at peace with each other, some staring in frozen amazement at the Babylon of birds around them, others swarming around their human companions who are throwing out manna from heaven.

The strolling Londoner flaneurs of the park are themselves a veritable testimony to the infinite variety of human taste and inclination : couples straight and gay, white, black yellow and grey, single girls and guys, parents and grandparents, children seen and heard, mongrel dogs and pure bred poodles - all consort and smile as they pass, acknowledging the unsaid relief and pleasure felt : we have made it, we are alive, it is peaceful here, things will be good this coming year.

London really is a delicious dish of humanity, served up in its great parks, every imaginable flavour, sauce and taste simmers happily in the pan alongside every other and the overall effect is that you feel as if you are dining in God's intended and chosen restaurant, the one he wants all the others to imitate, with the most eclectic and palate pleasing tasting menu possible, genuine soul food, every ingredient infused with the flavour of the entire dish and the entire dish tasting the way the world should.

Yes, I'm biassed, I confess, I love London, and so does Elena. Live and let live, and if you believe this, live in London, for no other city believes and lives it like London.

Later on though, the wind whips up and starts stinging our faces - it is time to go back home and take some tea and toast.

We are due at the British Film Institute on The Southbank at 6.30 to watch a collection of Roman Polanski's short films.

The stroll across the footbridge over the River Thames from Embankment tube was a full palate of electric colour, stripes of blue and yellow stabbing across the dark and big patches of pink and blue draped across the concert halls of the Southbank. In the background the illuminated dome of St Pauls Cathedral and to the south the tallest building in Europe, the Shard, sparkled like a Christmas Tree.

The programme of Polanski short films was disturbing - we felt that our sanity had been accosted by an evil genius. Enchanting, amusing and seductive scenes of happy life are jarringly shattered by murder and mayhem.

There are no happy endings in Polanski's theatre of life, but there is some great jazz, and the combined affect is that the horror of the world is vindicated by art alone - not a very happy state of affairs, but Polanski is not alone in concluding thus, and it's great for the drink trade, because we felt as if we had to have a stiff drink as soon as possible.

To Verragno's Cafe then, for a couple of pints of good Warsteiner Germen lager, which is odd, because it's a great Italian restaurant, and they definitely are Italian, unless they've all been to drama school to get their 'Mama Mia' and associated hand gestures and arm and shoulder movements to perfection for an audition for another series of The Sopranos.

A fuzzy journey home on the Bakerloo Line tube, we had had a perfect London day, New Years Day, January 2013.

Unless otherwise stated all photographs by Elena Bruce

1 comment:

  1. I love this blog, for it is written with knowledge , wit and fabulously observational clever prose by man about town Mark Rapley. The most well read person, especially of history and politics, that i know.

    Reading about his beautifully described adventure in Moscow makes me want to go there.