Some fragments – a journey is never really complete when retold.
But here they are, gathered a bit.
A trip to London wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of its fine bookshops, and Foyles was the perfect place for a wander on a gnawing cold day. I picked up Anne Carson’s Eros the Bittersweet, her essays/pieces on love in Classical and other literatures, but didn’t buy it then. I’m blessed at the moment with an abundance of books to read. Some old – The Twelve Chairs, which I mentioned a while back, The Polyglots by William Gerhardie, kindly sent by Melville House Publishing when I was stricken with a chest cold – and some new -Errantry by Elizabeth Hand is burning in my TBR pile.
On our third day, D and I went to the UK Parliament, and were lucky enough to be admitted to watch Question Time, that day on the subject of Education. We saw Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education (in the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government), snidely and blandly shoot down questions from the opposition and obsequiously respond to the ‘aren’t we great?’ questions from his own side. Education is a devolved issue – meaning that the Scottish Parliament is responsible for how the system is run here, so it was quite hard to care too much about school district issues South of the border.
Later on, the big hitters appeared. PM David Cameron made a statement on the Algeria hostage situation, and Ed Milliband, opposition leader, said a few things too. I played ‘spot the politician I recognise’ which was a fairly short game, sadly. Little of any real heft was said, but when I read the newspapers later and found it interesting to see the various interpretations of the puff. Overall, I was very glad to have gone, but the pomp and ceremony does not feel like it belongs to me. The divisions between the nations are there, and though we have a lot in common, I will always hope for Scotland to go its own way. Come the 2014 referendum or later.
This, if you are unfamiliar with London, the famous Tower of-. We passed it every day before crossing Tower Bridge, but never went in. There was an element of resistance in this – in both our minds, growing up, the tower of London had been – well – a tower. Tall and menacing, with rooks circling the heights, dank cells lining the circular walls. I suppose the Shard filled that imaginative space. You can see it jutting in the background of the picture.
This is Regent’s Canal where it runs through Shoreditch. D and I went walking along it with London transplant, G. Later we would spend the day inside a cosy pub with her and C (who I’ve also talked about before), to hide from hours of snowfall. I took a fair number of pictures here, the unnatural beauty (I almost said natural, as if anything in London is natural) of the canal highlighted by the wooly skies and frosting of snow. But I’ll save those for another day.
The last image I’d like to leave you with is of the English countryside seen from the train North. At times we had white-out conditions, something I have not seen much of, and so still seems magical. A ghosting landscape, seen in passing and without name. That’s what I like about traveling, when you move so fast you cannot commit much to memory, just the flittery glimpses. The other side of that is when you stay so long in a place that every paving stone is mapped out – but that’s Edinburgh, for me. More pictures of that city when the cold and dark release their grip.