Monday, February 15, 2016

I still love London. Sorry.

That trip to London did not, predictably, cure me of my love for my former city.

How could it? A trip to Buckingham Palace and a couple of days with the originals of my family was just an absolute treat. There was the delight of an evening at the theatre, something I never do in LA. And a morning at the National Gallery, because in London you can just wander in off the street and gaze at Renoirs and Canalettos and Gainsboroughs and it’s no big deal (I’m still building up to the 40 minute drive and weeks-ahead booking required for the Broad here in LA). I've been visiting the National for almost twenty years but I still see something new every time I visit: I'd never really paid attention before to the awesome mosaics on the landings.

And quality time – not quite enough of it, but still – with some of my oldest, dearest friends, setting the world to rights and catching up on trivia and gossip. There was really really good cheese and passable black pudding at perfectly ordinary cafes. Proper cups of tea. Sitting on the top deck of a bus and enjoying the view. Pubs. Dogs in pubs. That thing they're doing where they put pianos in stations for anyone to play.
Classic London corner shop

Mosaics on the floor at the National

Piano at St Pancras

Bricks and mortar and old fashioned signs

Grey skies over Hampstead Heath

Brick houses all in a row

Dogs in pubs

And there were the perhaps less obvious pleasures. Like WHSmiths and corner shops and Marks and Spencer. Brick houses all in a row, pleasingly uniform in design. Painted road signs on the brick houses. Walking into the Booking Office bar, at St Pancras, to be surprised by a row of men all in suits. Because lots of men in London do wear suits. To my eyes, accustomed to t-shirts and flip-flops everywhere, for a moment it looked like a scene from a period drama. But that's just London.

Oh, and the cosy pleasure of wearing knee socks pulled up under jeans. That’s right, even the alternately freezing and damp weather couldn’t dint my happiness at being in London. I even enjoyed running for a train and having to stand up on a cramped tube. Admittedly those pleasures might fade after a long winter or a regular commute.

Having said all that, I was in fact extremely, giddily happy to come home to Hermosa. Any pangs I felt on leaving London were suffocated in Lady P’s excited embrace, and TLOML’s relieved one. For home is where the heart is, after all. And sweet, sunny Hermosa Beach is where my heart resides*.

*All of it except that little sliver I left behind, somewhere between the Portugese deli in Kentish Town where a pound of parma ham costs three quid, and that walk in the drizzle across the bottom of Hampstead Heath.

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