“In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.” –
Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway
A grotesquely hot summer’s day, the hottest ever recorded in seven years in Britain. The air was consistently thick, a dense wall between my being and the rest of the world. Still, it did not prevent me from tarrying in the cobblestoned streets of this luxurious city I gave so much of my life and heart to. The last time I had been back was three years ago; but then, I had not been away for long enough to miss the city so.
Summer: a season of erstwhile freedom and a temporary erasure of problems. Is it the heat, do you think? It’s far too hot to think, I think. The crowds had swelled in enormous proportions since the last time I was there.
I spent one morning in Hampstead Heath with my family. I walked past George Orwell’s house, a red bricked unassuming home one could imagine him living in all his macabre gray tones. I also walked past many benches with poignant messages inscribed. Of the many I walked past, one particular pithy message struck at me:
“Always and in all ways”
I am a maudlin fool; I love stories, and I love hearing and reading stories. London is full of people laden with untapped stories and horrifically repressed emotions. Keep calm and carry on, they said in 1939, and many times thereafter. British sensibilities are oft underrated.
It was so ridiculously easy to live here and become subsumed by the city with all its bright lights, neverending stream of straight-faced people, the schizophrenic weather, the boring snacks, and the brown jackets. So easy.