A trip to London: good – the weather was unusually pleasant, I saw wonderful people (Chris, Alfred, Sophie), hung around in bookstores and bought books.
Not so good: the usual – transportation (waiting half an hour for an underground train that never came because practically the entire line is cancelled on weekends – London is frantically, and rather late of course, trying to clean things up for the damned Olympics), crowds of tourists, the huge and incomprehensible directions in stations.
Weirdly enough I think it may be three and a half years (is that possible?) since I’ve been down to London. Visiting the biggest cities has become too unpleasant to bother (all right, except for Berlin, which is so well-run and inexpensive these days – a shame they can’t fix the weather, isn’t it).
Oh, and another thing to add to the not-so-good list: I think that any room with a shared bath, especially in large cities, is moving to my ‘unacceptable’ list. Life is too short, frankly. (And why is the wifi in this inexpensive hotel so poor and undependable? – I know, the answer is in that first adjective, isn’t it.)
So: a possibly too virtual trip, with books and reading taking up more than half the time (which could, at least theoretically, be done anywhere – though of course used bookstores around Russell Square are a greater pleasure than those at home, or most places for that matter). I wonder if this is where travel, at least of certain types, will eventually go? – if we all get mesmerized by dancing images on screens (and I’m among the worst for doing that – another reason it is becoming almost a demonstration of my survival instinct to want to move to a warmer climate, where I will get out more), then perhaps actually going places will seem less and less worthwhile. For everyone.
And therefore: away with the chaotics of London. Except – then I wouldn’t have had a wonderful hour talking to Chris in a Greek restaurant, or a relaxed (and healthy) home lunch while catching up with Alfred – note the really beautiful balcony on his sublet apartment – or a couple of great hours gossiping and repairing the world with Sophie (and why don’t I get to see her all the time, that would make for a better life). And even the purpose of the trip was successful, and really enjoyable – an intelligent and articulate response by St. Paul's School boys to my bizarre disquisition on the implications of graphic scores? As pleasurable as it was a surprise, and an example of how this sort of thing goes when it is done right (as it wasn't two weeks before at another lecture in a different city). So the good parts were made up of people, both those new to me and old friends of sterling quality.
Well, I’ve said it before, but on different grounds: we all need to get a big house in the countryside, with amusing friends to live there, or if they choose to visit. Not, of course, a plan that this world’s economics and systems will encourage: but we can dream….