Monday, 6 May 2013

Regents Canal London on a sunny Bank Holiday

The sun has slashed through our windows and carved up the walls of the flat into two diagonal blocks, so we decide to surrender ourselves to it completely and take a walk along the Regents Canal, which we knew would have been completely conquered by its welcome warmth.
The trees have given up fighting the Spring and are happily clad now in its lincoln green cloaks and the blossom has burst out laughing on the Cherry trees.

Philp Larkin caught to perfection the way that the trees renew hope for us despite the fact that they and we know that one day we’ll be dead - this no reason to give up before we have to :

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh,afresh, afresh.

Barges and boats, canoes and cormorants, ducks,  geese and swans jostle for space on the canal itself and London has sent a representative of every one of its peoples, nations, tribes, sects, classes, ages, clubs and cliques to strut their stuff along the canal path - these are the united nations of London and they show us the borderless future of tomorrow’s world, united under the banner of a warm sun and a canopy of deciduous trees and a border of flora and riverine fauna.

On a day like this, in a place like this, you realise that there is no need for us to fight each other. We can share this canal, this narrow path that lies alongside this narrow stretch of water with its narrow boats that give way to each other, so we can share this planet, surely.
Take this message to Mr Assad in Syria and Mr Netanyahu, invite them to take a walk along Regents Canal.
We will leave them to chat on one of the benches about how they can carve pathways of peace in their own part of the planet. As they sit, perhaps before the conversation begins, they will notice how the presentation of beauty and bounty in a small space makes people realise that space must be shared if it’s to be enjoyed.
The small space sort of frames the world for us and makes us aware of its limits and its frailty.
Share they must, or they will fill their spaces with hatred, which makes the air unbreathable, and their tribes will be done for, and surely that’s not the fate they want for their people.

We walk past the manicured lawns of the vast regency palaces, which back onto the canal. They are owned by the plutocrats of the word, but we notice how mostly indifferent people are to the startling discrepancy between their own accommodation and this - no envy, it seems, perhaps some bemusement, or reflection on what kind of drive it takes to accumulate so much and transform it into such ostentatious real estate. Or maybe it’s the sheer lifelessness of these enormous ornaments that adorn the ego’s of the very rich - they are there just to say, ‘Look, look what I have done’ but they can’t be played in for fear of damaging them and the ego they protect.

These barricaded gardens will never be stormed unless their owners become responsible for preventing all those who can’t be bothered to be rich from walking past in pleasurable and peaceful ways that belong to them. The most valuable property is your own soul, and most of us know this. It’s those that don’t that cause all the trouble. Real wealth is the freedom to spend your time in the way that you want to, in tune with your own soul, sensing the space that surrounds it and the satisfaction of sharing it with those that you have chosen.

As the great Jimi Hendrix sang so poignantly, ‘I’m the one that;s gonna have to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my own life, the way I want on brother.

At Camden Lock I push through the crowds which throng the market and buy some ice cream for Elena and her Mum.

Back on the canal path, we use our wooden spoons to scrape the chocolate ice cream from the tubs. Around us, conversations concern a million different worries, but somehow they are not worries as the water laps up against the bank and other people’s worries seem more worrisome.
This is London, not Gaza or Damascus, and we are all grateful for that.

More photos of Regent's Canal is here

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