Does it always rain in London? Probably not. But there’s that cold, seeping into your bones, under the wool of your coat, settling beneath your skin. We stand on the corner under a droopy umbrella, wondering what the point of a droopy umbrella is. Later we sit in the heat of a friend’s restaurant, listening to the table beside us. They say things like, I can tell a good wine just by smelling it, and, In Canada we just drink beer, and, But you know what, whenm you go back, you’ll be all cultured. They are City people with a capital C, just slightly out of their depth, aiming just slightly too high, so enamored of their own image of themselves that they forget who they are, where they are, why they are.
Time passes more quickly in London than anywhere else I know. First it is just gone nine, and suddenly it is midnight, and then one. We splash down the street with our friend, who we haven’t seen for too long (but none of us has the energy to say this), we wait at a bus stop, we go separate ways. Gliding down Oxford Street it occurs to me that there is nothing sadder, nothing that makes me feel smaller and more powerless against the force of the Big City, than glitzy shops all closed up for the night. A kind of desparation creeps into view; the Big City isn’t so different after all, is it, I think; it’s just as sleepy and just as shut as anywhere else in this in-betweeen hour.
But earlier, on the tube, leaning nonchalantly against the plastic in the car with my headphones and my heavy coat, going to meet The Man, I had remembered how well I like the city-feeling, the knowing feeling; I had felt again the happy chills as I skipped down the escalator and waited for a train, for there is nowhere in the world but a big city that you can feel so a part of the world, such an insider, whilst being above it, too, outside of it.
We wait for the bus home. Now the cold has entered our socks and shoes, our very beings; we huddle close together. For the first time in I don’t know how long, we are not unhappy under this late night London sky, just cold, just waiting, just wanting, because it is late, to get back to the warmth of our house.