I found a street rather comically named Soburn (Coburn? Noburn?), which seemed to be to be the bastard child of the neighbourhood I know well (like NoHo is to SoHo). There was an awesome wall of a building with some Chinese characters on it … dim sum served daily! Hiding under some street trees I saw the name China City … I’ll have to go back.
On my side of the street was a fantastic Victorian building, the Russell hotel, with wrought iron on its balconies and completely unnecessary statuary on the second floor. The blackened brick exterior was covered with carvings and texture and all sorts of decoration, and I was curious about what it looked like inside. The flowers I saw pressing against the glass in the Tempus restaurant below looked like birds in cages – tempus fugit, indeed.
I continued next to Russell Square and heard whistles blowing and noticed the cops had blocked off the street on the Square’s side, opposite me. I looked down the street and it was the union marchers! Go, team! I felt happy about them getting out there and protesting. Getting a “pay rise” that’s under inflation is a complete joke – to suggest that this is somehow going to help with inflation is the punchline. To me, it seems like just another way to squeeze the working class with built-in taxes, while the filthy rich at the top continue to get huge bundles of cash for fleecing everyone else. Want to help people have more money to spend? How about raising the base rate on stamp tax? How about taxing wine like the French do, since it’s clear that ripping us off for spirits is not helping reduce England’s culture of drinking, it’s just putting more money in the government’s pockets? Grrr.
I realized at this point (thanks to a helpful shopkeeper) that Googlemaps had lied about the location of 9 Russell Square, and I needed to go back to the top of the square and the hotel. Fortunately, the post office workers were not striking, and with just a few pennies (seemingly) I’d sent my parcel on its way and was ready to head back to work.
I headed up Tavistock road, which has the beautiful glazed tile entrance to the Russell Square tube stop on it, but then impulsively ducked down a different road that seemed to be a London from even a hundred years earlier. I’d found Herbrand Street and the Friend at Hand pub, which claimed Charles Dickens used to be one of its patrons. I was fascinated … even more so by its position on a back alley that clearly used to be just full of stables. I decided to walk down this street (the “Colonnade”) rather than a more fancy one. The wooden doors with their cast iron hasps (?) were fascinating – the open ones had Z shaped wooden supports that really brought home their previous occupants to me. Sadly, most of them were now converted into storage for the nearby hospital.
As I made my turn onto Lambs Conduit, I started remembering the time I’d spent in Long Beach, Washington – how so many little corners of the peninsula had their own special memories for me – the houses hiding in the scrub pines near Oysterville – the silly, lovable trailers at the Sou’wester Lodge – the sound of the wind in the trees – the way you could stand on the porch in front of the trailer at midnight and still hear the sound of the crashing waves, invisible behind nearly a mile of sand dunes – the sand dollars littering the north end of the beach – the moss pretending to be grass underneath your feet. Somehow all of the images were flashing in my head with a Phillip Glass soundtrack. How could I express this to other people? A stick cartoon a la XKCD? Grainy super 8 movies? Could I describe the images I saw and have someone else film it? Was there some kind of cheesy software that would let me draw on my computer screen and then capture it, the way I did with the “view out of my window” I did a few weeks back?
Seeing a movie last night that was filmed entirely in locations we knew only too well (Golden Gardens Park, the water tower at Volunteer Park) had me thinking about making my own again ... though who knows if the things that excite me about my life, about living, are exciting to other people. But for me, it’s summarized nicely in this Henry Miller quote:
"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware."
(Thanks to varina8 for pointing that quote out to me. I have kept that card.)