Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 14? London

I came to realize that I had to treat London like a brand-new-to-me city; my memories of the place were so few and tended to center around places we weren't likely to get back to (the homes we lived in, the school I went to, the part of the Heath I walked every day).  This is probably for the best, since I didn't really enjoy London as a kid or teenager.  My fondest memories from back then tend to be of the trips we took OUT of the city, to greener, more open spaces: Scotland, Ireland, the Lake District.  We probably won't get to see any theatre here this trip, sadly.  Shows are largely sold out, since it's a bank holiday weekend.  Wandering about Trafalgar, in St. James Park, and along the Thames was quite fun yesterday.  We finished up at a Greek restaurant that was the scene of a wonderful last night in town back in '81.  We missed Mom and James, of course, and we didn't recreate the drunken stroll through a dark Heath afterwards, but that was probably a good thing too. 

Dad's lecture is Saturday night, at Friends House, just around the corner from our hotel.  I may find my memory triggered there by some of the rooms.  But all in all, the claustrophobia I feel in cities, I first discovered in this one.  Fifteen years in New York, seven in Seattle, and about six months in Dublin in '86 have all taught me skills for managing it (and those daily walks on Hampstead Heath back in '81 were undertaken for therapeutic purposes at the time), and I think I'd have quite a good time here, if our stay was longer.  Cities are great to visit, but I wouldn't want to live in one.  Oh. Huh. 

London and New York feel similar in size and energy.  There are different visual effects of course, but the first thing I noticed was distinctly different smells.  Dublin's is different as well, and I can more readily attribute that to the greater influence the Irish Sea has on the place.  It's simply not as big, there are fewer buildings over five stories, and the air just smells saltier. 

More thoughts, and OH so many pictures, when I get home and have a moment to synthesize the experience.  


EB said...

There are lots of solutions to claustrophobia in London - any of the parks, or Parliament Hill, or even get a train out to Box Hill from Victoria and you're in miles of countryside with amazing views. A trip on the river might help too.

Marta said...

i have plans for you. we need to talk! just sayin....

Birdie said...

Seems to me you've found coping strategies if you've spent fifteen years in one of the largest cities in the world.

Will you be posing pictures of your travels?

Patrick said...

EB: definitely there are plenty of wonderful solutions to my claustrophobia in London, and in this short trip (basically three days) I managed to get to St. James Park and the Heath, the latter twice. And simply walking by the river was great too, this time. I didn't have the autonomy or insight when I was a kid to take full advantage of them, though the Heath was a great comfort when I was fourteen.

Marta: ah my dear, you always know how to pique my interest! Can't wait to hear what you're plotting.

Betty: yes, those cities, and a growing awareness of what I need from my day and life have all been adding up to some good coping strategies. Mary and I took note of the fact that our pictures were very green-centric even when we were in Dublin and London. Trips to parks happened in both places, just as trips to fine restaurants and bookstores happened when we were ostensibly in 'the country'. We would have gone to theatre too, if all the West Coast Irish ones hadn't been on tour at the time.

And believe me, there will be photos of this trip. I uploaded 1189 images to the computer yesterday. There was an audible groan from the poor thing, and my computer desk sagged a bit when the camera was done. I'll cull them a wee bit before I subject anyone to my great adventure as documented in photos.