Park life


Back in the posh bit of London for the next couple of weeks, and thus back to my favourite haunt for lunchtime eavesdropping: Berkeley Square. It’s an excellent spot because it’s usually pretty busy, so people sit close together, and it’s surrounded by high buildings, meaning there are very few inconvenient breezes to snatch away the words at the cliff-hanger moment. And of course, it’s full of young, foreign/expensively educated hedge fund types, whose sense of entitlement is directly proportionate to the VOLUME at which they CONDUCT their conver-SAY-shuns.

Yesterday, however, I found myself in philosophical rather than critical mood as I ambled past a couple of young suits on a bench, just as one said to the other, ‘She wasn’t like this before I met her’. Annoyingly, I was right in front of them and moving at speed, so I couldn’t very well stop short and hang about, fiddling with my shoelaces and waiting for more background colour.

She wasn’t like this before I met her.

What? Are you a time traveller? Who is she? Your girlfriend? Is she a ‘psycho’? (NB SmugBoy, most women aren’t ‘psychos’ as much as confused by hot/cold behaviour. Give a woman a different, ie better, boyfriend and mysteriously she’ll stop being a psycho). And anyway, she wasn’t like what? Double-jointed? Infuriatingly, I had to press on and now I’ll never know.

The dissertation crawls forwards, but leaves me thinking more and more about space and what it means. Last week I was walking along the South Bank and had another philosophical episode. There was a musician — not a busker, he wasn’t collecting money — standing down on the river’s edge, playing beside a bed sheet weighted with stones, on which he had painted the name of his album, which he was encouraging us to download. Public space used transgressively – he’d scrambled over the railings; to play music stored in a space that feels infinite yet has only recently been created – d’internet, and was playing in a place that only exists half the time because it’s the riverbed and disappears with the tides. Weird. The music was terrible btw – turgid, arch rubbish — so I didn’t note down his name. Something about a moth.

Final strange observation, of the type that makes me love London so – this time of differing philosophies in harmony: on the tube, a nun reading Chemistry for Dummies. Take that, Dawkins.


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