Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Journey into the Past

So I’m back. On Sunday night, it was (finally) hot and muggy over London and as I tossed and turned I started to think about how to summarise the trip. For a start it wasn’t exactly a ‘trip’ in the sense that I usually use it. Yes, I crossed London and bits of Southern England during my week away, but it was to ‘visit’ people, so this was more a visit then a ‘trip’. I also wondered about the mass of memories that were continuously flowing through my head during that sleep deprived night. I would think about something that I had done during the week and then ping: I’m seventeen years ago. Ping: we stopped at that pub. Ping: it was the night of the fire in my room! It’s funny how walking past the spot where we had parked the car in Exeter all those years ago enabled me to think of one day in my life that I had practically forgotten. OK, I haven’t forgotten the fire, you don’t forget waking up and finding your bedroom on fire, but all the other pedestrian details of the day had been buried.

The whole week has been like that. Even on the train I was wondering if the sky was different in the 70’s. I just don’t remember it being so blue and balmy. Is that a sign of global warming, or is it just those Kodak prints?

And then when we went to the Prologue of the Tour de France; now, I grew up in London but somehow I just haven’t been to (eh hum) Buckingham Palace since I was: what? Four? When Mum took me and my brother to see Trooping of the Colour. There I was wheeling around getting ‘atmosphere’ shots and I saw this hideous block of a building and had to ask Big Bro: “Is that Buckingham Palace?” and then I turned round and it was like a flash back, I remembered it all. Well, not exactly, I remembered the road and the horses and stuff, I don’t remember the bit where I embarrassed my mother by announcing to one of those soldiers with the white horse hair pouring out of his helmet that he was rude because he wouldn’t talk to me.

On the Eurostar back, I let the guy next to me read ‘The Weather Makers’ over my shoulder as I wondered some more. I guess the reason that it was more like a journey into the past is that most of the people I visited are kind of from the past. The time when we used to spend lots of time together was years and years ago, nowadays we meet and ‘catch up’. I know this isn’t particular to me just because I live in a different country; we’ve all moved on. It just seemed weird that the two people I met where I have an ongoing relationship with nowadays were Debi and Estrella and isn’t that weird because most of the time the two of them are just little photos in my comment box or Messenger window! I suppose I’m just missing my friends because I’ve seen them. Silly, I know.

So on a separate note I’ve joined Friends of The Earth. I was on my way to Monoprix and I’ve become very adept at spotting the charity workers (I generally lump them all together) and I’ve discovered that if you stare up into the air and look vacant you are generally taken for a tourist. Unfortunately when you’ve got your Monoprix bag and recycled toilet paper tucked under your arm it’s not so easy. I knew I was going to get caught, so I read their t-shirts. “Have you heard of Friends of the Earth?” Flo asked me. “Eh, YES.” Sorry, couldn’t keep the sarcasm out of my voice, but man who knew? The next thing I was surrounded by a posse of ‘friends’ who announced that I was the first that morning! “And the five minutes for the Earth?” Were they trying to catch me out? “I did it.” So I joined and now I’m finding out how crap my bank is.

I also did the first of a little writing exercise I created for myself before the holidays began. The idea is to sit in a café and people watch until a little vignette pops into my head. So I listened to the crusty sax player’s mellow vibes and deliberated between the guy whose hand shook as he furiously tapped away at his mobile phone and the kid who was eating breakfast as if there was no tomorrow. The music was like a sound track from a film noir and this popped into my head:

He was looking into the not so distant past as he ploughed through his fried eggs and ham. He was still annoyed with Keeler: Keeler the middle aged, middle grade, middle sized lump who couldn’t stand the fact that he was better at the job.

Read the rest over here.

12 comments:

Marie said...

Nice to see you back. We did have a very long hot summer back in 1976 (maybe you're too young to remember, unlike me!)but I do think that the sun these days seems too close and too bright.

Verilion said...

Nope, I have a very good long term memory! I remember the back garden being dried up and that there were huge cracks in the dried up soil. It looked like a desert.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Hey, you're back! You were missed!
I know exactly what you mean about those journeys into the past - psst, I think it's a sign of our advancing age...
As for people watching - I don't dare do it, the Chicken always appears and starts to take the piss - and you know how badly she can behave.

apprentice said...

Hey welcome back. The fie sounds very scary, no wnder bits have slipped yor memory. I too remember 196, I hitched right through England and on to Frace, everywhere was burnt to a crisp and the sky was very blue.

I like people watching too.

Debi said...

Those sentences that 'popped into your head' are great! From such small beginnings entire books have sprung - I look forward to reading this one ...

Verilion said...

Advancing age!! Moi!! No, I'm getting younger every year (I wish). And that Chicken seems to have come back even more mischievous then before.
Hi Apprentice, mmm... the fire... I was pretty calm, did I mention that pub? The stupid thing was that I then woke up with a stonking hangover and decided to cure it with a nice breakfast. As I was telling my housemates about the fire in my room the smoke alarm went off. I was burning my breakfast!
I wish the book I was going to write would pop back into my head Debi. Aaah.

Minx said...

She don't look like her piccy do she?

Verilion said...

Neither do you Audrey! And me... usually I tend to be standing vertically too!

jason evans said...

That's a great way to write. To be right there experiencing scene.

Verilion said...

... and imagining the rest! I have to get outside when it's nice, so it gives a little purpose to my aimless wanderings, I'm enjoying it so far.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Funny how old haunts can be, isn't it.

Memories just come raging back in, and then there's a tidal wave.
Glad you had a good, safe trip.

Lady, your photos on the sidebar there are nothing short of awesome, you have a very good eye - the composition in these is wonderful. I very much enjoyed them.

I have some photos of the Victoria Memorial fountain just outside Buckingham Palace that you might like, they too are in a flickr box on my sidebar.
I can't believe you haven't been to the palace since you were a kid!
But... it's like that with most of us, a stranger in our own back yards.

I love that you were impertinent to the guard, kids say the darndest things... amen.

Back soon,

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Verilion said...

Hi Scarlett,

thanks about the photos. Mmm, I'm not sure about the eye, there's some tinkering that goes on back home before I stick them up. Still, that's what I like about digital photography, you don't need a dark room and ten tonnes of equipment to do what photographers have been doing for years (I guess some photographer will now call me a philistine.)
And as for the palace thing, to be honest I really don't care about the royal family. They are just a bunch of horsey looking people and I was shocked at the crap that was printed about them everyday in the newspapers. It's like the UK has replaced real news with the cult of soap and the royal family are just one big soap opera. They are still regurgitating Diana stories!
I'm not a royalist at all (just in case you hadn't worked that out).

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