At the park, the muddy ground is finally bare of leaves. The high grey tendons of leafless trees scratch at the tenebrous morning sky. Frost has given a hat-hair limpness to the hellebores and has edged with brown the early rhododendron blooms. Chill, close, an air of expectancy.
Such doom and gloom to be found on the internet about the future of reading, of fiction, of books. And yet. The window washer tells me he likes to read non-fiction, and rattles off a list of recent reads. Biographies of sports celebs, politicians, people's experience of war. Nothing unusual in this except that he… Continue reading Readers
There's a pay and display stand in the park parking lot. And it seems to suit the height of nobody. The more elegant man stands with one foot forward, knee slightly bent, arm extended as if he were holding a sword, fingertip stretching for the buttons. More typical is the boxer, who stands with legs… Continue reading The Fencer and The Boxer
The half hour before the park closes. Nearly empty of people. At the outdoor cafe, a streetperson, dressed in black, zipping his black bag. The white police van slowly making its way to the far gate. Lovers oblivious to time. Dogs leashed and led away. Peacocks parading loose, the males in full colour. Yesterday one… Continue reading Cruella Deville
Is it hunger that makes me see magnolia blossoms as semi-stirred cherry yoghurt, and pink almond blossoms as candy floss? And what's this ahead, forcing us to cross the road? A group of middle-aged people are gathered on the sidewalk in front of a building under scaffolding. (Construction carries on through the winter here.) Short… Continue reading Unfurling Spring
In the field that was a pond two weeks ago, two boys play football (soccer to Canadians). The blonde one slides on the mud, falls onto his back. He laughs and rolls from side to side in the mud, swishing his arms. Like a child making snow angels. Like the dog scratching her back in… Continue reading Mud and Fashion
Out in the rain running errands, I pass a street person shivering in grey sweats, his palms pressed between his knees. I go into the Starbucks next door and buy a big cup of tea, lash it liberally with milk and sugar, and take it out to him. I proffer him the cup. He shakes… Continue reading Errands
Tube strike from Tuesday evening through to Friday morning. Water causes natural disasters in areas away from London. The South Downs flooded. A rail line washed away in Dawlish on the south coast of Devon. On Wednesday it rained sideways. Yesterday in the park in the straight downpouring rain, empty of nannies and children, a… Continue reading Reprieve
Flat rectangular espaliers trap trees onto music stands, their brown leaves notes. Morning sun reveals green fur on the temporary structures of the construction site. Green psoriasis proves that the new roof on the design museum is copper. The Kyoto Garden in Holland Park is forbidden to dogs. Because forbidden, I peer over the hedge… Continue reading Marking time
White gulls strewn midfield. Around its periphery run boys in burgundy jerseys and navy shorts. Bulked in layered clothing, hunched away from the mud, I pause, waiting for the oval line of boys to warp, waiting for a boy's dash at the birds. When it comes, the whoops of the boys and the calls of… Continue reading Rain Shot
There are 242 acres of Kensington Gardens. Surely a dead squirrel in all that grass would be a needle in a haystack? The dog found the stiff and peed on it. Which I told to the woman who later petted the dog wearing her black leather gloves, asking if the dog was a good girl.… Continue reading Kensington Gardens
A small branch stripped of bark gleams in the grey air. Bone-white, I think. And retract the thought. The prominence of my own bones, and spinal osteoporosis, moves the word bone out of the interior designer's catalogue and into the undertaker's. Bone has lost its innocence for me. At the top of the bare tree… Continue reading Bone white
Stopped a moment in Kensington Gardens to enjoy a rare patch of sunshine, I hear the squee sound that a dog's chew toy makes. Ears direct eyes upward. Six parakeets fly around the top of a tall plane tree. Just as I marvel at the beauty -- bright green birds, grey tree, blue sky --… Continue reading Food Fight
A tall couple have no time to waste, pushing past me as I wait in front of the Wait to be Seated sign. He is tall and thin and of an age to have known post-war food rationing. She is blonde and looks like him, thin and sharp-nosed, and younger, possibly his daughter. When I… Continue reading At the Cafe
In the crowded tube, my back to the person nearest me, aware that I am part of a circle of backs whose owners face outward, as if expecting attack. Like the battle positions you see in movies, from the wagon train circle to the embattled dwarves in The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug.