Sometimes, living in a cottage in the sky, things can feel a little other worldly, other timely……I’m high up enough to look out of my windows and simply see Victorian……no modern life…..I’m high up enough to only hear muffled noises from the street.
I spend a lot of time in my kitchen……not as a cook but writing and daydreaming…..the kitchen is where I do all my writing and I commit to it every day though most days nothing comes out. The kitchen backs on to an alley between buildings. It’s a blind alley……it’s dark, narrow, steep, tall sided buildings enclose it…..no one goes there……it’s paved with the original flags from 1800 and goodness knows when……moss grows there. It’s a little ominous. Every sound from the alley is magnified.
Tonight it is raining again…..like so many nights for the last couple of months…….but tonight I’m listening differently…..I was trying to write when the sound caught my attention…..I suddenly felt like I was listening in a time warp…..I was listening to the time when my house was built…. There were no people noises….no traffic noises……just the gush of rain in the big box gutters and the occasional rhythmic fat drip, drip, drop from a broken gutter or down pipe….I look to the window……it’s death black out there……I let my eyes adjust and the street lights beyond, maybe a couple of streets away, put the rooftops and chimney stacks into relief…….I ditch the writing and move my chair over to the window.
The air is cold and freshly charged with the rain…..all the noises are muffled…..I feel like I could be anywhere….but I am unmistakably in London….and I love it……. I lean out of the window and look towards the city……I can see the lights twinkling on the bridges.
I have loved walking the streets of London at night….when no-one else is around….now, as I hang out of my window, I can picture those streets and my solitary walks……along the embankment peaking at the boats and looking down onto the shore to check the tide…. up through the squares of Bloomsbury, fantasising about meeting Virginia or Vanessa as I turn the next corner and imagining what I would say to them both…imaging how they would tear strips off me and how I would tear some back………… Two o’clock in the morning visits to the British Museum….not to go in, of course, they are shut……but simply to sit on the steps and dream a life……to open a book and read by the light of a street lamp and be entirely lost….to sit and read until the sun begins to show her face and the first workers begin to emerge……other than those that have been here all night of course…..the men taking bins, the street sweepers, the earliest of early birds getting their goods to market, the cab drivers stopping for a steaming mug of tea…..I watch them all and say an occasional hello…….Then the stroll through St James’ Park when everyone else is tucked up in bed and I say quack to the ducks in the duck house on the island………
It’s sort of remarkable……one dollop of rain, one lean out of the window and suddenly I am miles away….but not many miles. It is nights like these that remind me how much I love the city that I chose to make my home…remind me that I am lucky to live here….remind me that the world and my romantic imagination really are my oyster. As much as I would love the dream cottage/garden in the country side…….arch, I can’t quite imagine being away from this……from all this history, this literature, this romance, these buildings which drip, drip, drip every time it rains….these random meetings with strangers…..
It’s early…..only eight in the evening…..it’s not too late to grab my brolly and a book, jump on a bus and head up to town……for a walk….a sit on some steps……a moment by the twinkling lights on the river…..an abandoned park……some alone time in the midst of a crazy city…..a moment to simply be and appreciate what I have.
5 thoughts on “London on a rainy night.”
I love letting my mind wander, and wonder.
I found myself outside the St Martin’s Theatre one wet late evening, many full moons ago, and the light in the alley was dim and flickering; an electrical fault, not intentional. It cast shadows that I didn’t recognise, and some smoke caught my nose hairs and then my mind. An elegant elderley lady passed the Stage Door as the noise of some revellers leaving The Ivy broke the quiet pattering of the rain. The lady stopped, turned and walked back a few steps, looked inside and said a few words to the Stage Door Keeper. She then stepped within, flinging a stole back around her neck as she went. For the briefest of moments, which seemed like ages, I thought it was Agatha Christie checking out the latest casting following its then recent move from next door. I then remembered I was there to check the FOH of The Ambassadors for The Cryptogram, a show I was working on, and that Agatha had died decades before. The mind does play games sometime, and occasionally it’s nice to stay in these games of the mind.
Oh I love that!!!! This is exactly what I love about this gorgeous city of ours…..imagination and romance can run riot and be right at home and normal. Bloody love this story!
Nice story Paul!
I love your story Vivi! For just a few seconds I felt like I was sitting in the rain beside you. Nice vision. You are so talented.
Thank you lovely. 😀
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