Thursday, 25 February 2010

London in the rain

We have had so much rain it's more of a nuisance, and occasionally danger, swelling rivers, bringing down flash floods, than a thing of beauty that is a joy for any significant amount of time, but stepping out of the PBS in Tavistock Place this evening it was dazzling. The headlights are dazzling of course, but then so are the puddles that shimmer and are constantly on the move. Walking on the pavement is like a space walk: it doesn't feel quite like walking as we know it. So the new, strong umbrella goes up, but the water gets at you from underneath and you feel the bottom of your coat getting wet. But it is still more like Gene Kelly as in Singin' In..., than like Edward Thomas, as in this bleak hut and solitude..., Nothing solitary about this; it is a peopled rain, though a good proportion of those people are in cars, cars sleek as seals with the stuff and none of them moving fast, because it's the time of day paradoxically called rush hour, meaning the time when it is impossible to rush.

At King's Cross we are waiting for the platform announcement for the Cambridge train. The scene is much more like a rush hour should be. It is like the start of the London marathon, a kind of stumbling sprint for the insufficient seats. I sit opposite two Cambridge ladies of retirement age. One was an academic, or her husband was an academic, because she talks about the delights of still going to lectures there, particularly the science ones, she says. It turns out her husband or her husband's friend is an academic in Aberdeen. Behind them a young woman with an effortfully babyish voice is flirting with a bald man who is quite enjoying the distraction.

Cambridge is in the rain too. And come to think of it, Wymondham does not lack for rain either. Not so much Gene Kelly here as Edward Thomas...

Tomorrow to York for a workshop, adjudication and reading the next day, then the train down to London again for a reading at 11:00 am for Jewish Book Week with Bernard Kops and Micheline Wandor. My first ever invitation there. Someone must have told them I'm a nice boy. The programme looks very good indeed. Tempted to stay for Anthony Julius at 12:30, then at 14:00 its Will Self and Adam Thirlwell.

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