Saturday, January 24, 2009
roadmap, essentials, plain trees
As I set out for London in the rain, I reluctantly take an umbrella. I have never liked umbrellas, even the tightly rolled symbols of respectability carried by bowler-hatted city gents in the old days. They are an encumbrance, a restraint on freedom. In the country I never use an umbrella, but I am going to London. The one I am carrying is a miniature of the species designed, when collapsed, for the pocket or a slim brief case. As I walk to the station, I find it comforting enough to hear the raindrops pattering on to the nylon above my head. But still the umbrella is not an essential companion for an outing. Of those there are plenty enough. I walk through the Grove checking them in my mind. Money for the fare, the wherewithal to pay for the lunch to which I have invited my brother, my notebook (pen to write in it and pencil to draw in it), compact camera, and the Arden Shakespeare edition of Pericles (which has served this purpose unopened for about six months) in case the train breaks down. What has happened to freedom, I think to myself, if it is so hard to go out without having to tick so may boxes first?
The globular, prickly brown fruit of the London planes on the otherwise, bare branches of the trees are at eye level with the first floor window of the bar above the Aldwich where I am sitting. On the basis of their appearance, they alone remind me of lychees, though, ready to disperse their seeds in the Spring, they are different in all other respects from that exotic fruit.