Didya ever get the feeling that you wanted to go
Butcha still had the feeling that you wanted to stay…?
That’s pretty much the way it felt. We’d been gone for seventeen days. What was the trip like overall? I’d give it a really big “A.” And I’m a hard marker.
Being away felt a little like running away from home – liberated from spirit-sapping routine, no burdensome obligations, no having to share your spouse with demanding outsiders, such as your children…
It was London.
No, the owners of the place I lived in in Hampstead in 1967 never got back to me concerning my request for a quick re-visit to my old “bed-sit.” But did that stop me from going up there, and standing across the street, in front of the late Peter Cook’s house, staring up at the Third Story (Second Story in England) window I used to stare out of on those Sunday afternoons when 60’s “”A”-Listers stepped out of their Bentleys to party at Peter Cook’s place without me?
It did not. (Despite the possible “stalker” implications.)
I also stopped by the former location of my beloved Horse and Groom, the pub that I nightly hung out in, which I’d discovered on the visit previous to this one had been turned into a Chinese restaurant. It was a Chinese restaurant no longer, ha, ha and good riddance to them displacing a Personal Landmark my subliminal curse on these heartless interlopers working like a charm.
It was now an Indian restaurant.
The thing I like best about London is London, a walk-in museum of a city where turn any corner and you’re face-to-face with history. A major source of pleasure was peering down the dank and snaking alleys branching off from the main thoroughfares and seeing Londoners of other times – “imagining” is too weak a word, you could virtually see them – hawking their wares, the “swells” having their wallets lifted by Fagin’s urchins, the streetwalkers keeping a wary eye out for “Jack The Ripper.”
In L.A., we play a game called “What Was That?” You pass by a store that the last time you passed it was a different store, which had itself replaced an earlier store, which had replaced a store before that, and no one can recall what any of them were.
In London, there is no “What Was That?” The original “that” is still standing.
And then there’s the other thing. I was once young in London. When I go back, I remember. My stay left no mark. There is no plaque honoring the place where I once rented a room. But when I recall without checking that Tottenham Court Road is on the Northern Line,
I have proof.
Mick Jagger may have gotten “no satisfaction”, but I did. And I get a reinforcing “booster shot” whenever I go back.
On the return flight, I watched the movie Contagion.
When I got home, I had a cold.