The 11:31 Eurostar left at 11:31 and 5 seconds, cruising out so smoothly I hardly noticed we were moving. London has been grand for the last two weeks. I even enjoyed the rain over the last two days, wandering around with that Blossom Dearie song playing in my head:
With my boots on, in the rain,
See the couples arm in arm,
London drizzle has its charm”
I went to a wonderful exhibition of photographs of the UK by foreigners over the 20th century at the Barbican Centre yesterday. The centre is architecture in all its post-modern glory. At one level it’s quite ugly with all the brown brick and concrete, but on the other hand there’s something quite playful about the enclosed centre that includes apartments, the Guildhall School of Music, bits of canal, a very old church, concert hall, museum, art gallery, with plants spilling over the balconies… actually very appealing as a place to live when you put it like that.
I was, however, reminded that despite how lovely London has been these past weeks, I do not want to live here again. I popped into the book sale in the church at the Barbican and the first thing that caught my eye was the Steinway grand piano. Needing a music fix, I asked the book man if anyone would mind if I played. His reply, in clipped, upper class accent: “That is the prerogative of the Director of Music.” A definite no, imbued with a clear sense of rules and privileges. Five minutes later as I was looking at the organ, the organ teacher stopped for a chat and said “Sure, have a play for five minutes.” I did enjoy the feeling of having thwarted the hierarchy as I walked out, head held high and a wave from the teacher in the organ loft, but the effort required to constantly get past it is wearisome. These little encounters highlight how much freedom I enjoy as an educated person in Australia, regardless of class.