Saturday, 3 September 2011

Sense and Sensibility

It’s Saturday morning. Despite forecasts of 25 degrees in London, the air outside is cool and fresh. The occasional bus rumbles past the window, taking Saturday shoppers to their destination. The flat smells of the lemon essential oil I am burning. Saturday Kitchen is on the telly, inspiring me to get up and make something more exciting than the toast with apricot jam I have just devoured.
The buzzer goes, awakening me from my Zen-like calm. I run down the stairs to catch the post man who refuses to speak to me over the intercom, stubbing my toe on the way. The air that hits me as I open the door brings with it the stench of a passing waste disposal van. Back in the flat, Him Indoors gets up and starts to prance about in front of the telly, moaning already that the flat will be too hot again tonight. I haven’t even left the building and my senses have already been assaulted.
Ah, London. You tease us with your delights and then attack our senses, like a clown offering us a flower and then squirting us with water through its centre. I really should know better than to fall for your charms. However, day after day, I give you another chance, only to feel violated by the time I crawl into bed.
Last week I met some of the girls for a spot of food. We were all tired after a hard day at work, and, after being turned away by two Pizza Expresses (we had vouchers), finally collapsed around a table in Carluccio's. Three large glasses of wine were ordered in quick succession. As we waited for our food, the waitress brought us over some lemon and chilli oil to try with a hunk of focaccia. It was delicious, and quickly disappeared. Slowly, we started to relax. The tension slipped away and was soon lost among the scent of garlic and the sound of soft music.
We started chatting. Whinges about work were replaced with what we had been reading, music from our student days that we had rediscovered, exhibitions we had visited, theatre we had seen, shopping we had done. We decided that next time we met, we really needed to do cocktails at one of the funky new bars that had recently sprung up. And finally arrange that bus tour we fancied. Not to mention check out Matilda when it opened in the West End.
At the end of the meal I pottered over to my bus stop, a smile on my face. My senses had been pampered once more. Even the crazy guy shouting about his latest conspiracy theory didn’t spoil my mood. London and I were friends once more.
Whether it’s the views across London after a climb to the top of Monument, the scent of hundreds of curries being cooked in Tooting, the feel of ink rubbing onto your hands from yet another free newspaper, the taste of yet another amazing shish on Green Lanes or the sound of Big Ben chiming as you wander along the Southbank, London has something to delight all the senses. But there will always be something to taint that experience, whether it’s the drone of another drunk, the smell of rubbish dumped in the streets by yet another irresponsible business owner, the discomfort of cramming onto the tube, the taste of a crap coffee from that chain, or the sad sight of one more rough sleeper. But maybe that’s what makes it so exciting. You just don’t know what to expect when you step outside your front door.
One thing you can guarantee. Your senses will be challenged beyond their capabilities. And whichever way they are stretched, one thing is for sure: In London you will always have something to talk about when you meet your mates for dinner. But, will you gush or groan? Your guess is as good as mine.

No comments:

Post a Comment