Monday, April 28, 2008

Fill 'er up

I like the British term for one of these, filling station. It leaves open what exactly you will be filling up on, rather than gas station which leaves nothing to the imagination. It seems natural to me: you take a train, then walk along the coast, till you reach the filling station. Walk to the gas station? Why not? I would like to imagine what flows from the pumps of this station designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1937, imagine that it is not gasoline, but inspiration, inspiration for living with functionality, elegance, and style.

Why not walk to the gas station when you can breathe the clean sea air along the way and watch the wind turbines spinning lazily in the distance?

Why not even take a dip in the ocean?

You may live longer and have better circulation, but you will certainly be more alive.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Thighs and calves

Apologies for this rather anatomical title, but I've been thinking about thighs and calves. No not in general, but with this theory in mind -- in walking cities, people have good calves, and in bicycling cities people have good thighs. Note to self: must both bicycle and walk!!! BB


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Trouble sleeping

I've been having trouble sleeping lately, which is just the nearest excuse at hand for my lack of posts over the last week. Normally I'm a good sleeper: 6 hours needed and usually achieved with 6-7 hours in bed. Solidly through the night, into a light sleep early in the morning so I wake up without an alarm most of the time. Isn't life wonderful?

I've already mentioned the birds. Well that singing bird is back, big time. He (she?) is Sinatra (Celine Deon) in Vegas. Really, such sweet song, but at 4.45 am every morning? The other day 4.30!

But what happens these days is that I wake up and look at the clock with those is-it-morning-yet eyes and find it is only 2.00 am! But it seems very bright outside. And when that bird sings, it again seems pretty sunny outside. Does the sun not set in London? Am I being transported to the Arctic Circle while I sleep? Woody Allen couldn't film any late night strolls through London, as he has in New York, at least in this season.

Of course the irony is that in New York, even if it's dark, there are so many things to do at all times of the night. You can sleep, but you don't have to. Here instead, it seems I can't sleep, but wish I could because there's nothing to do after 11 pm. OK, I could go clubbing - but when it's so bright out?

One of these nights I'm just going to get up at 2, dress, and head out for a stroll, and see what it's like. Await future posts.



Manhattan, 59th Street Bridge, 6 am. In Allen's forthcoming Central London this scene will be filmed at 2 am.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Young folks

Had to listen to/ watch this a few dozen times to recover from Autumn Sonata...


Autumn Sonata, or Kodak carousel slide projector (discontinued October 2004), or Do you remember?

Sitting in the dark, the sequence of images flicker and flit across the screen, some holding there a beat too long, others never enough. Dusty darkness, dusty past, never past enough, never near enough, gone, extinguished, when lights come up and the lamp is off.

Winter nights, the fan rumbles on, cooling the machine, after the images are gone, but the air it blows on me is hot, hot in the cool, lonely air, wishing for more, more time to stay awake before it's time for bed, more joys, more sadness worth living.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Jet lag and 3 firsts

I don't usually complain about jet lag, because I don't really suffer from it. I was on flugelbinding trip to the Americas (just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in -- is that quote from The Godfather or Seinfeld?) and got back Saturday morning. I had a busy-ish day cleansing the accumulated pockets of excess papers around the house (my father would be proud!)

In the evening my friend Clementine introduced me to her new bicycle and tried to persuade me to take her old one. I declined (I prefer to walk -- better exercise for point A to point B travel and I'm nervous about bicycling on the streets of London), but I did agree to take it for a spin to join C at a tapas place in Clerkenwell. I was following C through the streets of London as she zigged, zagged, went around a bus, cut through one-way streets, and occasionally through pedestrian sections. I was concerned, alarmed, panicked, thrilled, drained, and pleased to be alive.

This morning I couldn't get up. Must have been the jet lag -- really. I am morning person, without any trouble getting up in the morning. I recall at about 8.30 my apartment was so bright. Then I dozed a bit, and then a bit more. It was not the delicious extra 30 minutes you sometimes steal if you wake up earlier than needed or after your partner has vacated the bed. It was an exhausted, heavy-head sleep. It was like trying to escape quicksand. Finally I did. At 9.30. My father would not be proud.

I went to the market, but more on this later.

After some restorative coffees I went to join my friend Ginny in Islington. I decided to walk. It's a nice walk, but at some point I found myself next to Pentonville Prison. There is a prison in central London? you ask. Yes there is, I reply.

We had a nice cuppa, and now I'm home about to engage in my three firsts for today: the first time I've seen and cooked rhubarb, the first time I've cooked artichoke (the Jerusalem variety), and the first time I've cooked swede (no, not a Swede...)



Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Gmmm, Gmmm, Gmmm" quoth he

I am in a delicate state at 5 am, after a late evening yesterday. I was dreaming. I think it was pleasant. Then somewhere far away I hear a gentle "gmmm, gmmm, gmmm". Well, it's gentle at first till it grows louder, more insistent, more rhythmically precise. I am wide awake. It's not a dream. It goes on: "Gmmm, gmmm, gmmm". A pigeon. I spot him later in the day sitting on my terrace. He's a plump one too, strutting around as though he owns the place.

This time half awake. I hear the "gmmm, gmmm, gmmm". A pair of flapping wings. Some scraping feet. More wings. More feet. Wings, feet, wings, feet, wings, feet. Then thud, as something (a head?") hits my window. Wings. Pigeons wrestling.

Screaming, screeching, cawing, thrilled high-voiced, shrill. So excited to hear the sea even if I can't see it or smell it. Seagulls. You hear them often in London.

I am half awake. I hear a song, birdsong. A wonderful modulation, some kind of music I haven't heard before. A traveler from a foreign land speaking and singing in unknown tongues. He goes on for one cycle and then goes silent. I am awake and thrilled. The next day, the same, the same strange song. Again awake, pleased. The next day the same. Awake. The next day the same. Awake, annoyed? No, it doesn't feel right. How can I be annoyed? It's so beautiful. Day 5, ughh. Day 6, ahhh! Day 7, silence. The bird is gone. Day 8, silence. I miss him. Day 9, I hear him, in the distance, sitting on some other windowsill, as though saying, "I know where I'm wanted" or is he saying "I'm a traveller. I fly with the wind and seasons' whim."
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