Nowadays, people resort to all kinds of activities in order to calm themselves after a stressful event: performing yoga poses in a sauna, leaping off bridges while tied to a bungee, killing imaginary zombies with imaginary weapons, and so forth. But in Miss Penelope Lumley's day, it was universally understood that there is nothing like a nice cup of tea to settle one's nerves in the aftermath of an adventure- a practice many would find well worth reviving.
Blaise decided that the thing he would remember most about this London was the sour stink of it. The overripe foulness of the streets made him gag, and when a woman emptied a chamber pot from a top window, nearly catching him in its spray, he bent over and wretched, much to the Nightsneaks' amusement.
In a public dialogue with Salman in London he [Edward Said] had once described the Palestinian plight as one where his people, expelled and dispossessed by Jewish victors, were in the unique historical position of being 'the victims of the victims': there was something quasi-Christian, I thought, in the apparent humility of that statement.
Unreal City, Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,I had not thought death had undone so many.Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,To where St Mary Woolnoth kept the hours With a dead sound on the final stock of nine.There I saw one I knew, and stopped him crying: 'Stetson!You, who were with me in the ships at Mylae!That corpse you planted last year in your garden,Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men,Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!You! hypocrite lecteur!-mon semblable,-mon frere!
Is Dust immortal then, I ask'd him, so that we may see it blowing through the Centuries? But as Walter gave no Answer I jested with him further to break his Melancholy humour: What is Dust, Master Pyne?And he reflected a little: It is particles of Matter, no doubt.Then we are all Dust indeed, are we not?And in a feigned Voice he murmered, For Dust thou art and shalt to Dust return. Then he made a Sour face, but only yo laugh the more.
The city which lay below was a charnel house built on multi-layered bones centuries older than those which lay beneath the cities of Hamburg or Dresden. Was this knowledge part of the mystery it held for her, a mystery felt most strongly on a bell-chimed Sunday on her solitary exploration of its hidden alleys and squares? Time had fascinated her from childhood, its apparent power to move at different speeds, the dissolution it wrought on minds and bodies, her sense that each moment, all moments past and those to come, were fused into an illusory present which with every breath became the unalterable, indestructible past. In the City of London these moments were caught and solidified in stone and brick, in churches and monuments and in bridges which spanned the grey-brown ever-flowing Thames. She would walk out in spring or summer as early as six o'clock, double-locking the front door behind her, stepping into a silence more profound and mysterious than the absence of noise. Sometimes in this solitary perambulation it seenmed that her own footsteps were muted, as if some part of her were afraid to waken the dead who had walked thse streets and had known the same silence.
At the age of fifteen he had bought off a twopenny stall in the market a duo-decimo book of recipes, gossip, and homilies, printed in 1605. His stepmother, able to read figures, had screamed at the sight of it when he had proudly brought it home. 1605 was 'the olden days', meaning Henry VIII, the executioner's axe, and the Great Plague. She thrust the book into the kitchen fire with the tongs, yelling that it must be seething with lethal germs. A limited, though live, sense of history. And history was the reason why she would never go to London. She saw it as dominated by the Bloody Tower, Fleet Street full of demon barbers, as well as dangerous escalators everywhere.
For I'm afraid of loneliness; shiveringly, terribly afraid. I don't mean the ordinary physical loneliness, for here I am, deliberately travelled away from London to get to it, to its spaciousness and healing. I mean that awful loneliness of spirit that is the ultimate tragedy of life. When you've got to that, really reached it, without hope, without escape, you die. You just can't bear it, and you die.
The English language is like London: proudly barbaric yet deeply civilised, too, common yet royal, vulgar yet processional, sacred yet profane. Each sentence we produce, whether we know it or not, is a mongrel mouthful of Chaucerian, Shakespearean, Miltonic, Johnsonian, Dickensian and American. Military, naval, legal, corporate, criminal, jazz, rap and ghetto discourses are mingled at every turn. The French language, like Paris, has attempted, through its Academy, to retain its purity, to fight the advancing tides of Franglais and international prefabrication. English, by comparison, is a shameless whore.
But a progressive policy needs more than just a bigger break with the economic and moral assumptions of the past 30 years. It needs a return to the conviction that economic growth and the affluence it brings is a means and not an end. The end is what it does to the lives, life-chances and hopes of people. Look at London. Of course it matters to all of us that London's economy flourishes. But the test of the enormous wealth generated in patches of the capital is not that it contributed 20%-30% to Britain's GDP but how it affects the lives of the millions who live and work there. What kind of lives are available to them? Can they afford to live there? If they can't, it is not compensation that London is also a paradise for the ultra-rich. Can they get decently paid jobs or jobs at all? If they can't, don't brag about all those Michelin-starred restaurants and their self-dramatising chefs. Or schooling for children? Inadequate schools are not offset by the fact that London universities could field a football team of Nobel prize winners.
Handel's yearning for independence from the traditional chains of patronage and his persistence in monitoring his productions resulted with unique developments concerning Baroque 'opera seria'; however, paradoxically his personal obsession to obtain complete artistic freedom generated disastrous side-effects that eventually impeded the progress of opera in London.
On Waterloo Bridge where we said our goodbyes,the weather conditions bring tears to my eyes.I wipe them away with a black woolly gloveAnd try not to notice I've fallen in loveOn Waterloo Bridge I am trying to think:This is nothing. you're high on the charm and the drink.But the juke-box inside me is playing a songThat says something different. And when was it wrong?On Waterloo Bridge with the wind in my hairI am tempted to skip. You're a fool. I don't care.the head does its best but the heart is the boss-I admit it before I am halfway across