Dawn this morning saw me leaning on a railing on Waterloo Bridge. I watched the glorious dawn as it broke. Wonderful. As I watched I was wearing one of Brian’s coats, a brand new scarf, and my black shoes still muddy from Jersey. Everything else was my daily wear restyled as costume. Essentially I was being paid to watch stuff, while someone filmed me. There are harder ways to earn a living. We’ve been all over London today, and the Gods have been kind. We had great light. It was a crew of three, including me, so we didn’t attract much attention. Still we did get moved on once.
We had been outside Somerset House for less than 3 minutes, filming a pretty clock, when a hard faced dane came out and reminded us, in no uncertain terms, that “even if this feels like public property it is in fact private.” This is the case with much of London. We’re there under sufferance. Somewhere in the corner of the pretty square there’s a laminated poster telling us all the things we are not allowed to do. Sitting in warm rooms, hard faced danes scowl into monitors for the best years of their lives enforcing rules because they’re rules and rules must be enforced. Yes, we can walk through the square. Yes we are positively encouraged to go to that coffee shop. Great, we want to have a meal in that restaurant. After the meal, overwhelmed with joy, we spontaneously break into achingly beautiful song. A song from the buried ancestral heart. For a moment we’ve tapped into something ancient, the song that stills the birds in the trees, that awakens the ancient spirits, stirs love in hearts long lost. Beneath our feet the earth breathes, a column of light from our head to the heavens. And perhaps… perhaps at last… “EXCUSE ME yes you excuse me – I’m afraid this square is actually private property. If you want to do that singing you’ll have to do it somewhere else thank you very much.” Welcome to London. Go and buy another coffee. Because then when someone cracks and spraypaints “WANK” on the cobbles again they’ll have enough cash in the maintenance budget to employ a guy who needs the money to get it off. And the square stays beautiful and the circle continues. Wank.
I’ve walked around the city today, looking at beautiful things, for 14km. I suspect my habit of stopping and looking is what spurred Alice – today’s film maker – into thinking of me. She first employed me as “Martin” who gave no fucks about anyone but himself. It’s lovely to come back after many years and be “The Observer…” And kind of typical that “the observer” doesn’t hit the usual buttons. He’s a simple, uncomplicated, happy fool. I just hope I’ve given the complicated people a happy start, because Martin would’ve just battened down on the least together people.
I am tired. I’m off to sleep.
All these photos were taken after I relaxed a bit.