Half past eight and another glorious London day. I wandered over to the park and hauled myself up onto the Buddha in Battersea Park. If you’re on your own with nobody to boost or pull you, you need good stomach muscles to get up there – they don’t make it easy. No handholds and the fencing is too wide to comfortably grasp. You have to jump and scrabble. It’s almost like you’re not supposed to do it.
With my stomach muscles in the state they’re in I knew I probably only had one shot, but I planned the jump and made the jump, spectacularly inelegantly. I flopped up like a seal. But I made it.
I sat under the Buddha, facing my flat and the river, and chanted quietly for a while, a little non-idolatrous bodhisattva beneath the graven image of the Shakyamuni. A not so wise man facing in the same direction as the memory of a wiser man, looking at the place I sleep in. It really is pole position up there and on a day like today. London doesn’t give much better.
I sat there until a passive aggressive young ripped dude started making it obvious that he wanted to sit where I was sitting and he didn’t like me for existing. I’ve never seen anyone up there at the same time as me, and likely neither has he. He walked past me three times huffing. Every time he walked past it was like he couldn’t understand how I was still there after he’d huffed at me, and maybe if he went round again I’d get the hint. Eventually he huffed himself down just far enough away on my left, keeping in my eyeline, and started rolling up. It was then that I noticed all the burnt out roaches scattered around me and I realised that after the huffing comes the puffing.
Nic showed up bang on time. “Shall I come up?” he asked, seeing the height and hoping for the answer no. “I’ll come down. I think this guy is probably hoping to be left alone.” I say, and look at ripped dude rolling. No acknowledgement, no contact, nothing. But in his head, so loudly “just go just go just go just go.”
We were all young once.
Then we walked. And we languished. We caught the sun. And we talked. There’s a lot of contact between the two of us and we played silly games and enjoyed the heat and the weather. I’m sure I’ve caught the sun crazily. It is just astonishing right now in London. Whatever else is happening, thank God for this weather, even if it does mean that the parks are crazyass busy.
Despite calibration troubles, we have found a very positive equilibrium now, and I’m going to miss the company when he gets back his place in Hampstead. Other people make the world better. Connection and togetherness is so important. It’s interesting and revealing to consider how hard I found it initially to walk alongside another human being after weeks of this isolation. We will find it hard to get back together. All of us. Worth being ready for that so those of us who have been alone can start to derail our negative tendencies and double up on patience in time for otherpeople time.
Meanwhile Nic is watching an old Cher concert. Fuck me she’s good. “Follow this you bitches” she announces before coming in on an automated elephant. And that’s me sorted for the evening.