My solo life is over. He’s no longer on the other side.
“…I was no longer surprised; but never stopped rejoicing.”
– Patrick Leigh Fermor, Between the woods and the water.
I suppose without patisserie life would go on. But how on earth would we celebrate it?
– Patisserie with Michael Roux Junior
Today literally felt like the first truly relaxed weekend after a really long while. Which is odd because I can’t remember doing much over the last weeks at all and I haven’t been travelling either. So I put it down to feeling for the first time in a really long while that I won’t be having a horribly crazy week ahead. Life since I got back from my holiday in Turkey this august has been a blur – a series of no breakfast, lunch at desk, 10 hour plus (on good days) workdays, followed by the cleansing (i.e numbing) of the mind by television and the weekends of doing who knows what. There was a brief and sweet interlude in Thailand and India followed by the same craziness and frenzied work travel. Why do our lives move at such a fast speed?
Anyway, this weekend I woke up relatively early on Saturday. Relatively considering I was out with colleagues Friday and overslept on the night bus and had to walk back home in the cold once I did wake up. If only I had crossed the road I could have taken another bus but that never seemed to occur to me.
Something else that didn’t occur to me as I struggled to find my row in the cinema – first by the light of my iPad and then with the light from my mobile – was that in a seven-row theatre, row D is likely to be the fourth. I even asked a guy in the third row what the alphabet was. I realised how stupid I’d been only after I took my seat. My cheeks burning with embarrassment I finally felt I was proper awake. The movie itself, Nebraska, was great and I do recommend it.
I strolled down Mare Street and found myself face to face with Tre Viet and so had my second lunch of the day. The first had been leftovers from Thursday night.
Then a train ride to Central London (after accidentally walking over to London Fields which looked lovely with its autumn leaves laid out as dense carpets. The warm orange-yellow evening sky made it seem even more surreal.) and I was headed in the general direction of the National Gallery. Passing through soho, I lingered at the old books displayed on the street outside the store. Buying some shampoo at a hair salon I didn’t resist when the assistant wanted to show me how to make ringlets in my straight hair with a straightener. He put in two, I didn’t buy the product but walked about for the rest of the evening with ringlets in one section of my hair.
I reached Trafalgar Square. A street musician had started to play the opening notes of Spanish romance, I stopped to listen but he started chatting with someone and broke off. The gallery was open for less than half hour. So I ran up the stairs, passed through several eras by just crossing rooms and just let the paintings fly at me. I looked at some I knew and some I didn’t know and then the adoration of the Magi pulled me into its room and I wondered again why the other walls of that room were so poorly lit in comparison.
I went away at closing time and paid my respects to the Thames. I tried not to notice the whole world there. The eye looked grand. The river grander – dark liquid lit by scores of lights.
All the city has its Christmas lights on. It’s a magical wonderful feeling and this year doesn’t fill me with loneliness because I know I won’t be alone anymore in less than two weeks.
Moggie seems to have left me for good. She turned up just once over the past several weeks and that already has been more than a fortnight. Did I just dream that cat up? Once when I was returning home from work, I thought I spotted her in alley close to home. I ran calling out her name. I must have looked ridiculous chasing cats in dark streets with a can of milk in my hand (I’d just bought it since I’d run out) like some sort of cat stalker. Anyway it wasn’t even Moggie but that imposter that looks like her.
Photo from my birthday. At Richmond, by the Thames.