I’m lying on a sofa bed in Hampstead, on Parliament Hill. Outside the morning is bright and still and warm. After yesterday’s walking I feel I can just lie here now, and relax. I’m wearing a baggy pyjama top and a pair of tights for decency. I didn’t bring a change of clothes and it’s all we could muster for sleeping at short notice. The tights feel strange on my leg hair but not unfamiliar. I’ve been in tights before too many times.
Bank holiday tomorrow, although I have an audition combined with laryngitis which should be interesting. I’ve spent most of the morning breathing gobbets of hideous gunk out of my lungs. Yesterday I went to Keats’s house though and he had it much worse than I do and still found time to write “To a Nightingale”. I’m eating oysters in reverse but at least there’s no ketchup. The very least I can do is write this blog, which ain’t going to be carved in stone for future generations to marvel at like that man’s structured thoughts between bouts of hacking cough.
Walking and thinking yesterday made me aware again of how unbelievably full this city is. From where I am now I can walk 2 minutes to the derelict pub where Ruth Ellis shot her husband. Five minutes and I’m at Keats’s House. 8 minutes and I’m at Erno Goldfinger’s brutalist home packed with art. There’s something of human interest in every direction. From where I’m sitting, dazzled in the sun, I can see the dome of St Paul’s shrouded in mist, or is that smog? And there’s The Shard, unmistakable – The Eye of Sauron, drawing me southwards. There will be so many people on the south bank today. I’ll be out in the sun soon too, I expect. Everyone in this huge ancient overcrowded jumble, crowding into the parks and pubs and ponds. Time to stop observing and start participating. Which is probably generally a good note for me to take.
There was a kid outside Hampstead Heath station selling his toys to passers by. Mel and I encountered him on the way to the charity shop, where we were jettisoning a load of her stored up emotional gunk. I can do it so easily when it’s other people’s stuff. And I understood how she was struggling. We gave him a keyboard, which turned out to be the right move because the charity shop didn’t take electrics so it would’ve otherwise found its way back into her flat. On the way home he tried to sell it to me for £7. We didn’t bite but I bought a toy cement mixer for a quid instead. Why not? As a kid I was fascinated by the things. Samiximentors. A hangover from that odd obsession is that I always notice them now.
Now I’m back where I started, thinking about the meeting tomorrow and playing with my samiximentor. I really hope the coughing improves a bit tonight. I feel and sound like I’m consumptive. This particular illness has redefined my whole relationship with catarrh. But when the sun is shining like it is I’m a happy man snot or not.