Today we are talking about the streets. As simple as that. Don’t worry, nothing philosophical. I will leave the rocket science discussion for later. Please relax, take your shoes off if you want – barefoot is acceptable – and come. Can’t promise we won’t get lost.
I feel like there are millions of stories to be told. From the smallest insect crossing the road to the biggest skyscraper, they are all written in colours. And here we are, somewhere in between, us, human beings. And above all, a ticking clock.
Time. Our beloved, fleeting time.
The artists of the streets who’s got the brushes and the colours. Just because we don’t always understand the painting it does not mean that it’s less beautiful.
You see, sometimes we need to step back from the crowd. Think. Rest. Absorb. Breathe. Right there, on the side. It won’t be so bad, I promise. Forget about all the what-ifs and other infant questions.
Give yourself time, but don’t get too comfortable. There are so many ventures waiting for you on this planet.
You don’t want to miss the next painting, the next street, the next opportunity, the next risk, the next disappointment, the next blessing. You don’t wanna miss your life.
How will you ever find out which one is your painting?
If only they could talk, if only we could listen.
Nice talk about the streets, right?
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
I’ve read loads and loads about your soul before meeting you. Dickens told me stories, you were a bit younger back then, but still charming. Wordsworth and his daffodils made me love you more. Even if at first, I had to browse for the meaning of daffodils. I got it now, not to worry. You were simply incredible!
And then, I met you face to face.
Oh, come on! Don’t be sad now! Have patience, would you? Let the weather be moody.
You are filled with people who are drawing rushy steps on your streets every day. Yeah, I know rushy is not a word. Blame me! Truth be told, you intimidate me and God knows how much you push me.
But I am still here, right? The Thames, London Bridge, Leicester Square, Westminster Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, Covent Garden, Greenwich, Hyde Park, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral. They are all yours, but you give me a bit of everything.
I like you for your greatness and I love you for your simplicity.
A summer sunset by the river, bluebells, foxes, old book shops, flea markets, rhubarb pie, 24h food delivery service, Jubilee line, buskers, the rainy smell and friends for a lifetime.
You are away from being perfect, but you are real. I know, you are old enough to realise that yourself.
You are here. It is almost as intimidating as staring at a completely blank page. You don’t know where to look first, you don’t know if you should start with a word or simply with an exclamation mark. Overwhelmed, nervous, and full of aspiration you take one step and it begins.
Typing. Walking. One more step. One more word. The cars are roaring and the words are fluttering their wings in your head. Is this the contemporary waltz? Or a lost battle between concrete and abstract? The mesmerising atmosphere is leading the dance. Grey, blue, grey and blue, dusty blue, and ashy grey. This is your stage.
The page is not blank anymore. Slowly, slowly the waltz helps you to move on or forward.
You, little time traveller. You enjoy it so much, don’t you? No, you don’t even realise that at some point, the music must stop. Oh no!
We always think it is too soon.
The end got you exactly in front of the statue. You are so dazed… it’s hard to say if Eros is alive, or you are made of cold steel. The Victorian buildings are back in place. The windows silent again, but the cement decorations will always remind you of the royal ballroom. And you smile.
Nothing compares with the moment after the curtain falls. You put on paper everything that needs to be shouted. Now, please wake up and remember that one day, you danced in Piccadilly Circus. Full stop.
Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.
For the first time in my life, I was floating on top of the world. I am not an expert in climbing, and to be fully honest with you not even a fan of dangerous, risky hikes. I prefer to live on the safe side of the existence if that’s even an option nowadays.
Somewhere far – but not far enough – from all the sophisticated fuss of the City sleeps quietly my old buddy, Greenwich.
The wind is singing lullabies, so softly that you can hear the silence. All the leaves are part of the royal orchestra and finally, everything is in perfect harmony with the clouds.
It is truly a rare and very different feeling up there. Time is so meaningless that you can barely feel a second. I can sit on a bench for hours and not even feel guilty that my time is wasted. Because fairly enough, it’s never a waste of time.
And you know who else is insignificant? When you see London in front of you, with all its massive, flashy buildings, covered in power and grandeur, you will find the answer yourself. We are just a drop in the ocean.
And just sitting there, doing absolutely nothing, you learn so many lessons.
You can be in two places at once, and I dare you to see how amazing that feeling is. You play a bit with the laws of nature. And suddenly in your naivety, you start believing. Impossible things are no longer impossible. Funny thing, isn’t it?
My favourite part? The horizon and its obscurity. Endless shades of blue, nicely camouflaging with the distant framework. The horizon is never the limit. You know something is there, even if your eyes cannot see beyond it.
It took me a while to understand that the bloody ‘w’ is mute and for God’s sake you DON’T PRONOUNCE IT! But eventually, after many mistakes, I got there in the end. And now I deserve an Oscar for my progress.
After all, I feel like Greenwich is not even a place on Earth, but an old friend of mine.
Come with me, ladies and gentlemen who are in any wise weary of London: come with me: and those that tire at all of the world we know: for we have new worlds here.
It is simply amazing how the story of time is told very often by architecture. It can be noticed very clearly that glass makes the rules in terms of extravagant and uncommon constructions. A cocktail of past, present and future is all I can see at the moment. The humble medieval houses are almost vanished amongst the transparent mountain of mirrors. I blink. I blink. I blink and here I am, blinking again. The smell of smoked weed tells me that I am not completely alone in my imaginary universe. I ignore the olfactory senses for the time being. It’s London, the place on earth where the scent of weed is as common as the perfume of roses in Queen’s Mary garden. Nothing to worry about.
Servants wearing amber aprons are part of the past. Most of the time they are very quiet, shy and resigned. With memories in their pockets, they accepted the idea that their time of glory it’s gone.
How can you not feel like a royal celebrity when the sun gives you the most incredible glow of all times? Yes, we are talking about present now. The transparent cliff in front of me were once just a bunch of stones. How many tourists come in London to see the pebbles on the bank of Thames? How many tourists visit this city to see the new architecture and all these colossal buildings? The only difference between the two elements is just a process of transformation. Just a process. You cannot be a piece of luminous glass if you were not a stone first.
Mirrors everywhere and the myth of Narcissus experienced a reborn. The modern buildings reflect not only the sun, but their own personalities. Selfish, arrogant, proud, lost in a polished dimension, they are all a macro image of the son of the River God. When the daylight touches the top point of each building you can barely see anything, except an accumulation of bright. The tall constructions cannot be ignored. Can of Ham, Cheesegrater, Gherkin, Stealth Bomber and Walkie-Talkie. They have the entire attention of the tourists. Luckily, there are travellers too, not only tourists, so the servants can be silently admired as well. As we can see so far, the present is very illuminated. Maybe that’s not a coincidence, and maybe we should live and enjoy it more.
If in real life skeletons are the figure of a past, in my new world they represent the future. The cranes are decorating the whole landscape, as if someone dropped everything randomly from a plane. I cannot say that the high construction machines perfectly fit in the context but are part of something that does not exists yet. It might seem very annoying and disturbing for a contemplator, but the bunch of bones are placed there with a certain purpose, being part of the metamorphosis. Here is the genesis room where my characters are about to breath for the first time. Each skeleton is filled with muscle by well-trained architects, constructors and labours. A new sphere gets contour. It takes time, a lot of time, years and decades until the splendid imperfection wallows in the colourful society.
Hushed and full of rainy days, the counsel of the last century, Tower Bridge, continues to breathe. His gasp brushes the surface of the Thames creating restless waves. Thus, the river is resurrected, back to life, and we have a sentinel between the north and the south. No matter how much glass surrounds him, his beauty and value will never be a shadow. Two towers, two eyes meant to observe each and every single detail of the society. From the most important person to the most insignificant stone by the river, he is never tired to contemplate the variety of the picture. The iron ornaments give him a royal dignity, and the small crosses over his head makes me understand that he knows better than anyone what the definition of war is. Always with open arms, willing to restore the peace between the old and the new, he is the major link between the two worlds.
No, this is not possible. It must be a mistake, an error in the system. Something went very wrong and I am not sure if the counsel can do something to fix the issue. My heart beats faster and faster, I feel sad, sorrowful and powerless. I close my eyes and all I can do is to touch every single piece of glass with my inner eyes, hoping that my attention will hearten a little bit of his loneliness. There, deep inside, somewhere in the middle of yesterday a ranger rises, always ready to fight the battles inside him and to win the final war. Albert Camus tried to tell us something about the darkest fear of the century, but you never understand alienation properly until you feel its teeth tearing your body.
‘What does not kill you makes you stronger.’ Is it so? I’d say that what does not kill you makes you wish you were dead. Too dark? Too depressive? How it can be otherwise when the glorious Shard is there alone by himself, being the strongest symbol of solitude. I ask myself thousands of questions. I want to know why. The bridge tells him old stories sometimes before sleep, and his desolation backs off.
The Shard might be all alone, born on the left side of the right-handed world, but he is the witness of the most interesting and dazzling stories that the city is seeing now. And if you ask me which is my favourite modern building of London, you can find the answer at the beginning of this paragraph, because the solitude paints his glass in the most original way.
In the end, I don’t think it was a mistake. The great architects cannot be wrong. Every single character of my story belongs exactly where they were placed. Everything is there for a reason. To give us a lesson, or simply to provide us with enough imagination so that we can escape from the prison called reality.
Servants, autocratic masters, merger creatures, a counsel and a ranger. That’s the world of my story. A world that might not make too much sense, but honestly, look around. What makes sense in this enormous chaos?
The sun is a bit shy today or probably it’s just tired of the everyday routine because even though I am wearing my winter jacket, I can feel the cold wind breathing.
A naughty seagull is disturbing my thoughts with her desperate song, which is a huge contrast with the peaceful view in front of me. As if that’s not enough, another bird has joined her now. I am sure they missed their music classes during high school. What can I expect? I am in the middle of an Edenic landscape and I am complaining that a poor white bird, which is just doing its job, is disturbing me. I think I am the problem here. Good days and bad days.
Hyde Park is full of people today. Though is not the most colourful place in terms of flowers and magnificent gardens, it gives you the chance to forget completely the city and its crazy pace. Now everything is in all the possible shades of green. The smell of fresh cut grass is the perfume of Spring, and fills the wandering minds with a feeling of content. The Green Lady is walking among the tourists, crying kids, happy families, couples, tired parents and grandparents. All kinds of people who are more than happy to feed a squirrel, pigeons, swans, ducks. And if you’re patient and lucky enough, even parrots or (r)egrets.
The daffodils season is gone and now they are nothing more than a proof of passing time, showing their scars and taking their last breath. I am sitting on a bench staring at the small garden in front of me which was once full of yellow pigment.
Amongst the ruins of a cheerful garden, there is still one flower. One single daffodil, which seems to be humble rather than shy. Nothing special but something enigmatic. Why in a dead sea of daffodils there is just one alive? Did someone take special care of it? Is it younger than the others? Was the sun more generous with it and the wind less cruel? Is there even an explanation?
With all the questions playing in my neurons, I get up and start walking towards the station. The clouds are heavy and the sky is moody, ready to cry. Is the rain celebrating the last flower alive or is rather tearing for the lifeless ones?
It happens sometimes in the middle of March. They are everywhere. In the parks, on the streets next to old trees, in the gardens, yards, on the roundabouts, between the motorway lanes, in forests and in the most unexpected corners of the neighbourhoods. That’s their beauty. Wordsworth was right when he wrote the poem Daffodils, his words are worth, indeed.
The yellow petals are unconfutable, a whole palette of yellow shades combined. Perhaps the flowers are here for a reason. I would like to think that in each and every single daffodil there are tangled and shiny rays of the sun. They must know that the sun is not too generous yet, and the small miracles try to warm us. Fairy tales? Bedtime stories? I cannot help it. Believe it or not, they never fail.
If you have a bad day, their simplicity cannot be omitted or ignored. If you have a great day, you are smiling knowing that someone is celebrating your happiness in colours. Either way, they can warm our inner universe. One here, two there, ten more, hundreds and thousands of yellow drops painting the grey canvas of London streets.
If only daffodils could sing. Would there be someone truly listening in this hectic, never resting galaxy? What if they can actually sing? I am sure they do. We just need to bend our knee, get a bit closer and listen carefully. Wow! Is that really working? You never know until you try, right?
Bye traffic lights, bye trains and cars, bye crowded streets, bye pretentious clients and annoying costumers, bye-bye appointments and meetings. The entire city will be left behind and the buildings will be transformed in yellow hills, daffoHills. Shall we give it a try?
Peak hour. 18:29, 4th of March 2019. I am in a Jubilee line train from Stratford to Stanmore. Since the train just started from its first station, it is not too crowded yet. A gentleman, well suited, is sitting in front of me, reading the Evening Standard with a lot of attention. Blue tie, navy suit and white shirt. His backpack looks as if it belongs to a mountain cyclist rather than a lawyer or banker. Well, pretty hard to look immaculate with this London weather. Can’t say that my shoes are cleaner than his.
The speed of the train makes me feel a bit dizzy and sleepy. Every single person in this coach has something in their hands be it the phone or simply the evening newspaper. We are all tired, it’s Monday and like usually, it’s going to be a long week.
Canary Wharf now and the crowd floods this train from all the doors, if only they could use the windows too. 90% of the people getting on at this station are in black, blue and grey. Seems like I entered into a colourless world, where I can find all the dark shades.
Yup, I was right. Now I cannot even see the person in front of me. Skirts, stiletto shoes, black suits and black backpacks. Here and there a white shirt appearing like a stain. A lady standing in front of me, decorated with two bags and a hand bag is really doing her best to complete all the sudoku boxes with the right number, or maybe she is thinking of the next letter of a crossword puzzle. Well does it really matter?
Nothing much to see at this point, and indeed nothing much to tell. People are trying to kill their time, if only they could fly back home. The most boring ones are reading the ads next to the London tube map. Unfortunately, this month the ads are not that funny as they used to be.
London Bridge now. I can smell a fusion of three, four or maybe ten perfumes. Not too soft and pleasant though. The gentleman I was telling you before is not interested in reading the news anymore, or perhaps he read everything by now. He’s phone is away, he’s daydreaming for sure.
The train is not crazy crowded now and I can see a lady holding a closed notebook in her hands, she’s about to write something, but her pen is too tired. Ohh! An idea suddenly came, she opened her notebook. Still reading. Still thinking. Still not writing, yet. But now she is writing. Well done, ideas! Well done! Too bad I cannot read a thing. She stopped again.
Bond Street now and unfortunately I cannot see the Chinese lady anymore. May the inspiration hit us both.
The gentleman left and a young lady took his seat. This time, she’s busy with her phone. Black outfit and pink nails. A beautiful ring on her finger and a clean backpack. The shoes are spotless. Maybe after all is not that difficult to look impeccable regardless the weather.
The same speed and my brain is about to explode. What is the little poor yellow feather looking in a train? Whatever.
Phone, phone, phone, phone, newspaper, annoying pink trousers, brown Michael Kors backpack and phone again. I am not saying it is good, I am not saying it is bad either.
The lady is getting off at Swiss Cottage. The pink annoying trousers took her sit. Pink annoying lips and pink annoying earrings. A bit of pink annoying dots on her sneakers.
West Hampstead now and the train is suffering a bit of change here. A bunch of people getting out and another bunch getting in. The lady sitting next to me is watching a movie. The gentleman with newspaper just gave me a glace. I looked into his eyes for less than a second.
Nothing much to say at this point. It is pretty quiet, not a surprise since we are too busy in our little world, too busy to look around and too busy to smile.
The fragile yellow feather is still on the floor. A gentleman sneezed three times, lounder and louder, he got some attention. OH, fourth time now. Call a doctor, sir! Now for sure he had attention, more than he wanted.
Willesden Green and I am almost home. Less and less people around me. Not an interesting journey I would say. The crying kids were missing and the drunk group of friends are left for the weekends. Again, it’s Monday. A typical Monday. Rainy and windy day, same journey, same routine and same tired and busy people. Oh wait, this is not a typical Monday day. Most probably this is a typical life day. Unless you are not a typical kind of people. I hope you are not.
Dark outside and silence again. That’s my station. After all, mind it. Mind the gap. Or whatever you want in this short life.
Do you mind?
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”
It is often said that love is hard to find. Well, not if you go around Spitalfields for a simple walk or just for “old fashion” shopping. You’ll find so much love there, almost hard to believe. Love for vintage clothes, vintage shoes, vintage paintings, vintage hairstyle, vintage shops, basically vintage everything. Vintage everything and a little bit of something. A little bit of graffiti here, a little bit of graffiti there, a wall full of graffiti here, and a full building covered with graffiti there.
And here we are, in a world fully covered with thousands and infinite colours. Sometimes too many and too strong for the poor sensitive retinas. However, explosion of creativity makes the surroundings look as if it rained with colours. But what can be done? Art is not meant to be understood, but simply to be felt and appreciated.
If you hear someone saying that love cannot be found on the streets, tell them to change a bit the perspective. Love and kindness can easily be found on the streets. A smile from a street performer, an old couple holding their hands, a father running side by side with his little son holding a teddy bear, a bus driver who waits for you, a hot chocolate on your way back to home after a tiring day, thousands of book shops, they are all on the streets. No, it’s no big deal and it doesn’t happen only in movies. Drops and drops of happiness. I am not saying that you’ll find the ocean, but if all these things are not a drop in the ocean, I have no idea what they are.
Art is all over the streets, amongst people, cars, train stations, buildings, routine, deadlines, hospitals, houses and castles. If art is everywhere, love is there too. Because art is love, and love is gold! Isn’t it amazing?
It was supposed to be a magnificent landscape, I guess. A white blanket wrapping the naked trees, the streets and millions of little, fragile stars playing cheerfully with the wind. But it wasn’t like that.
It was one of those mornings when a cup of coffee could not drag me out of the bed. Actually, this time I was hoping to see the fluffy clouds, on the street not in the skies, instead of seeing busy people trying hard to make their way through snowflakes. I still have no idea what can be so bad about snow. Why everyone is in a hurry? Late for work? Too cold? Who knows…
It did not take me too long to understand. I could relate with their feelings when I was on the other side of the window. Cold, windy weather and the snow covered streets made me realise that the clouds had indigestion. Flush, water, flush, a bit of snow, flush, again water and more snow this time.
Bye, Bye fairytale landscape.
Well, I have to admit that London is amazing, but not when it’s snowing. Especially not in the morning, when everything is so, so grey and grumpy. The four minutes wait for the tube seemed to be 40. Peak hour, crowded, tiredness and to be fair enough, a bit of sadness. Does anyone know if ‘Kinder Sad’ is on sale?
And again the same routine. Plus extra warning announcements in the stations. “Please take extra care”... blah, blah, blah. For sure not the best morning. Yet.
Two snowflakes playing with the clouds suffering from agony on the street. This time, the two snowflakes have a mother and a big brother who was silently following the mom. You know, that kind of mom who has a great morning if she doesn’t forget the kids at home.
The minions were jumping into the puddles, laughing innocently. It was the best definition of living your life, no matter how strong the wind is or how much one hates winter. Because when you’re busy being happy, the minus degrees won’t even affect you and the ice will start melting. And suddenly, I find myself smiling. Why? Good question!
See you at the next stop. But until then, Hakuna Matata guys!
“People where you live, the little prince said, grow five thousand roses in one garden… Yet they don’t find what they’re looking for… And yet what they’re looking for could be found in a single rose.”