It’s a long time in the train from Cornwall to London. By the time I got back into town I really needed to move my body. I walked home from Paddington.
Despite the schizophrenic and entirely unpredictable weather, it mostly was a lovely day. Only about an hour to walk from Paddington and it took me through Hyde Park. On a weekday the park is reasonably empty, although still filled with that modern phenomenon – lines of young men and women sitting beside one another on sunny benches smiling at the things they are individually consuming through their phones. I consciously only took the thing out for photos. For 4 hours on the train I just let my face get sucked into the glowing rectangle.
The squirrels are loading up with nuts, busy and reasonably fearless. Nature knows it’s summer even if the weather hasn’t calibrated it yet… I found the illusion of solitude for a moment, there in that green spot in the middle of the thronging metropolis. London town. Good to be back. Very different from Newquay in feeling.
“I’ve got to get out of Newquay,” says my cab driver this morning. He’s earning £50 to take me to the station. “It’s alright in the summer, but there’s fuck all in winter.” I ask him about the crack-heads. The whole main street is pulsing with crack heads, aimlessly wandering through the crowds asking for money like you’re at the outdoor bars in Soho in high summer. “Who can blame them?” He says. “There’s no work. They’ve probably never worked a day in their life. They don’t know what it IS to work.”
He came from South Africa to London. Then he moved from London to Newquay chasing change and a good life. “I dunno mate. There was this poster near my work every day. Had a picture of Newquay, telling us to come to Newquay. Looked great. So I needed a change. Get out the city. Shows there’s a difference between pictures and reality. I gotta get back to the city. I can’t do most of the work here either, I’m too old.” It’s interesting how many times I had variants of that conversation down there. People telling me Newquay was dead in winter. It’s pretty there though, make no mistake. I enjoyed exploring. But it feels right to be back here in this strange and busy city where there’s always something going on and you’ve always got somewhere to go to if you can afford the tube fare. Or the time to walk. A couple of little rain squalls, but I got home mostly dry. Much to do now in terms of stuff-logistics. Not my strong point so I’m having to gee myself up for it. But I’m off in a few weeks for a busy busy time, and there is no way in hell I’m leaving things even slightly like this. If I’m really organised I can get things so good that someone can use my room while I’m gone. But that feels like an impossible dream right now in the land of boxes…