December 21, 2015
On a Bench in St. James Park
Oh, London, I love you! I love your order and your neatness and seeing the brick houses all lined up in a row like they were — oh my goodness, I’ve been sitting on this park bench for less than 10 minutes, and I’ve already been intruded upon by a squirrel and a man named Bafti. First of all, the squirrel was a main attraction: it came to sit beside me on the bench and everyone stopped to take pictures of it. (I guess people aren’t used to seeing squirrels). Bafti was a man who also sat beside me on the bench (after the squirrel left) and he said “hello, how are you?” in a British accent and then proceeded with all the small talk stuff (what’s your name, where are you from etc) Eventually he asks me if I want to get drinks later, and I don’t want to but I never know how to say “no” politely so instead I tell him to give me his number and I’ll message him if I’m free. Also, apparently I am not as good at understanding the British accent as I thought because I had to ask him to repeat so many things. Anyway, I was kinda hoping that if anyone did approach me on a park bench, it would be Harry Styles or Prince Harry…but nope, it was Bafti.
Well! As I was saying, I like the neat, little brick houses all looking like Privet Drive. The similarity and the sense of order about them is oddly comforting. I love the pastel colours of Notting Hill and the lights that have been strung up, and the wreaths with red ribbons hanging on people’s doors. There’s something about London that is so posh-lovely. Even this fence I’m sitting across from in St. James Park, with ducks bobbing in the water behind it, looks nice. It looks like right out of a scene from 101 Dalmations or The Lady and the Tramp. Something about London makes me want to have a dog and stroll down park lanes for the rest of my life. The smoke rising from the chimneys, the sun gleaming over the city, the way the ducks look swimming in the rain…I can’t explain what makes it all seem so extraordinary to me! I feel like I’m walking in a book –a perfect little storybook of picturesque bridges and flocks of pigeons that fly directly above you as you are walking under a tree. There are little children in winter hats and coats smiling at you as they walk by with their parents and there are old men throwing crumbs at birds, and graceful swans floating in front of you. London is, in a word, lovely. I think that’s the absolute best way to describe it.
This morning, I did the walking tour. We walked down Knockturn Alley, learned about the Tudors (thank you grade 8 social studies for keeping me well-informed anyway), saw one of the ten hidden noses hidden around London in protest of their version of “Big Brother”, and saw the house where King Henry VIII lived and where Princess Di also lived while the divorce process was taking place. We also learned about all the people who have broken into Buckingham Palace as it didn’t become a crime until 2007 when it was no longer declared “public property”. One of the stories included a drunk Irish man who somehow got past security and stumbled upon a bottle of wine (which he drank) and then winded up in the Queen’s room. (I wonder how much of this is actually true!)
People are still drifting by. I feel like I need to document everyone. There’s an old lady with a dog and the dog kept trying to go under the bench. A man with his Christmas shopping just passed! Oh dear, the rain from the tree branches is starting to fall on me. I guess it’s time to make my way to Baker Street and then Trafalgar Square for Christmas caroling. Bye!