It’s very much Saturday night in London. An hour before midnight and I’m walking across Hampstead Heath. Off to see Hex and give him some playtime. I was filming in Archway this afternoon and then to dinner with my scene partner, around that smattering of roads north of Archway station that are named after Shakespearean characters.
The Heath on my walk home is busy with voices, rich with sound. With lockdown still not eased enough for the dogshit dance clubs where people sweat into your mouth, people are bringing their Bluetooth speakers and their shouting out here instead. Earlier there was a tree, dressed with balloons and an improvised table. “Happy birthday,” it announces still to everybody who passes, as the abandoned balloons slowly atrophy and the wind spreads the paper and crap they’ve left hither and yon.
It’s dark now, and with the echoing familiar sounds of party I might feel uncomfortable not being invited were I inclined that way. As it is I am just enjoying the sound of revelry, drinking in the smell of the dry grass where I’m lying, counting my blessings, not particularly inclined to go towards the noise but glad of it. People are spilling off in those deep involved conversations you have when you’re drunk where you spit out the contents of your head to one another without really listening. Safe venting.
Gigi cooked me an astonishing dinner and insisted I invite a friend. Thinking Gigi a vegan I invited Helen. I’ll likely be helping her out with some business before long. She’s running a retreat in the woods in August – I’ll likely be driving some bits up beforehand. I can’t attend as I’m a bloke. But I can be helpful beforehand. And helpful is my albatross.
Turns out Gigi ain’t vegan anymore. She’s still vegetarian though and gets veganism. So I’m glad I made the call on inviting Helen. Even if I noticed I was terrifically socially anxious having been to nothing even approximating to a dinner party for bloody ages. We even shared service implements. WITCHCRAFT.
A mosquito has found me here in my dark grassy hiding place on the Heath. It is catalysing me back to Mel’s flat, only ten minutes from here, containing camomile tea, honey and whisky.
I’ve stopped again. It’s too glorious here. I’m looking at the city and getting pissed off at the fact that all these closed offices are still leaving their lights on all night. How many months now? But I’m loving the atmosphere here. All the people who would usually be in a basement with damagingly loud music are scattered through this protected remnant of an ancient wood.
There’s a pocket of people down the hill teaching one another simple vocal harmonies. Nearer to me, Fun Carlos completely dominates a conversation about nothing held between four friends who are as drunk as he is. All around me come the laughs and squawks of happy fun conversation. It’s like the last night of a festival, once the music has stopped, without the ostentatious people in hi-vis putting out fires and shouting “no beats!”
I stop to take a photo. Between me and the lights of London two people sit silent and still, in harmony, looking from this ancient place at what we’ve done in the valley below.
Home for tea now. But as so frequently in this bullshit I’m counting my blessings.