Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Now back at my cousin's house. I am such an old lady that two train rides quite finish me off, so there shall be little typing. Tomorrow there will be exposition.
I have not been to London for many months. My brief abstract impressions of the dirty auld town:
All the taxi drivers can speak of nothing but the roadworks. When you ask about the Mayor, they go: Boris, pah. When it was Ken Livingstone, they all said: Ken, pah; so there is no change there.
The hotels and restaurants and bars are all full, as if there was never a recession, and the cuts to come are a mere figment of the Chancellor's imagination. In the full bars and restaurants, people are saying to each other: Ireland, how did that happen? People are saying: I don't understand; even when people explain it to me, I don't understand it.
I miss the days when you could buy a hammer in Westbourne Grove. It used to be junk shops and hardware stores and a newsagent run by the politest family in London. Now it's all high end shoe shops and empty boutiques and pointless art galleries (the art is bad, but expensive) and cafés where you may buy an organic scone which tastes of sawdust but if you ask for a Diet Coke everyone looks at you as if you are a Bateman cartoon. I know times change and things move right along and la di dah, but sometimes I miss a really good hardware store. Sometimes, I like buying a box of nails.
There is apparently a Saudi plutocrat who keeps an entire mansion in Kensington fully staffed and stocked at all times, the beds made and the kitchen on full alert, very much like a duke in the eighteenth century, even though he never visits. I dearly hope this is not an urban myth. There is something so excessive about it that I find it quite diverting.
I forget there isn't really weather in London. There is a blow of wind or a gust of rain, but it's not that great, raw, all out weather, that we get six hundred miles north. I'm not being superior about it, I'm just remarking.
Everyone was bored of the Royal engagement almost before the last television truck packed up outside Buckingham Palace. 'Don't speak to me of it,' they were saying, in the full bars and restaurants. 'Ireland,' they were saying. 'How did that happen?'
I am waffling now, so I shall stop. Here are a couple of pictures of the city, some expected, some not so much:
Oh, and go on, I can hear you calling for them:
That is the duchess, saying: if I read one more speculative article about why Kate Middleton is/is not/might yet be another Princess Diana, I shall do something foolish.
That is the Pigeon, saying: sod it, just throw me my stick.
Or not. There really was no excuse for that at all.