I have been to the Smoke again. To London, I mean, but I have also been at the cigarettes. I have a love/hate relationship with both, although the real grande affaire is with cigarettes. It’s just a blip, I’m not taking it up again, by order of the doctor who has convinced me of the real risk of dropping down dead of a stroke or heart attack if I do. I did think for a while, and decided to choose life. It’s just that once in a while I have the urge to dance with death. I have talked about this before.
I stayed with my daughter. On the plus side it was good to spend time with her alone and experience afresh the revelation of her unfolding character and unique loveliness. I also had the new experience of sleeping on an airbed, and surprisingly comfortable it was too. I recommend it as a cheap and storable alternative to the futon. My daughter's life has been rocky just recently. Sometimes things are like this. Amongst other things, she was assaulted as she walked home one night in one of the supposedly “nicer” areas of London, a stone’s throw from the underground station. She was wrestled to the ground by a man who wanted, presumably, (it wasn’t clear) her mobile phone, and she fought for several minutes until someone else appeared and her attacker ran off. Apart from a graze she is unhurt, but these things leave their mark, need processing and leave a shadow on the landscape and in the body.
It is not just my thin skin, nostalgia for 1970s and the fact of living in the country that makes London feel so alien to me. There is an edginess everywhere, more people are on drugs and not in a fun way. The rich/poor divide feels more dangerous. The bijoux little whitewashed houses with flowers blooming on the trellises are bang next to council estates where there is gun-crime and drug trafficking and we all cross our fingers and hope it will go away or at least not touch on our lives.
Back in the sticks, of course, it’s spring and everything is fine in the garden. Isn’t it?