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w/e 2022-05-22

This week I went to the latest Punchdrunk immersive theatre event and it was completely convincing: a recreation of London as if Covid had never happened. I saw thousands of performers behaving exactly like people in the before times of 2019, barely a mask in sight anywhere, and everything just how it used to be. If there was a narrative somewhere I missed it, which is nothing new, but as an experience it was incredibly impressive and a lovely reminder of times past.

Ha ha, no, I actually went to actual London where no one is actually bothered about actual Covid any more! Satire!

It’s been seven months since I last passed through the city but recently Alice had a dream and summoned ex-BERG folk for drinks at the Reliance and so I spent my first night in London since moving away. It was a lovely evening chatting to friends I haven’t seen in way too long.

I’ve found it increasingly hard to work out why to go anywhere, given the hassle of traveling, thinking maybe I could be like that farmer who’s never left his valley. But it was so nice to be in a big city full of interesting people and places and things. Yes, it might smell of rubbish and piss and desperation, but it was brilliant to be there, and I walked 32km (20 miles) over two days just to see and soak up as much of the place – rubbish and piss aside – as I could. I miss so much about it.

I was reminded by Ian’s weeknote that I’d never seen the newish Coal Drops Yard development near King’s Cross so I did and now I don’t need to do it again. Maybe it’s unsurprising that it would be quiet, mid-afternoon on a Friday, but it felt dead. In the big Samsung shop (sorry, “experience space”) there were more bored employees standing around than customers. So much expense on a “classy” development that was less interesting and vibrant than a decent high street.

A photo of an architectural model of two long brick buildings with pitched, tiled roofs that swoop upwards as they meet in the distance
A model of Coal Drops Yard inside Coal Drops Yard, on Flickr

Further south I popped in to Fully Charged to browse their e-bikes and took an unplanned test ride on one. I’d never been on an electric bike before and it was great fun, like magic, a mysterious silent force suddenly pulling me along. I’ve been wondering whether to get one because I am not a fan of cycling up hills and we have a lot of small-but-steep ones round here which, along with the fear of turning a blind corner into a massive tractor, have put me off cycling. It would probably be great. The main difficulty is thinking of places I would cycle to.

It’s a bit odd to feel like a tourist in London now, having previously enjoyed an irritating sense of superiority over them while I was a resident. So much is so familiar that it still feels like home and yet it obviously isn’t. I’m just like everyone else visiting and clogging the place up and hopefully not catching Covid.

§ This week I asked people on Twitter how they make time for reading books because I’m reading very little these days. I had lots of replies but, apparently, there’s no magic way of conjuring up large chunks of time for me to read books without changing anything else. Rubbish.

§ I forgot to mention last week that we’d finished watching the final season of Ozark which continued to be good. It wasn’t quite as exciting as previous ones, having a sense of things-being-wrapped-up, but that does mean it could come to a decent ending rather than a wrapped-up-in-a-hurry-due-to-cancellation ending.

§ This week I watched the last four of the five Small Axe films by Steve McQueen on iPlayer. They were all good although, unsurprisingly, they’re not exactly cheery. We don’t often watch grim realistic movies or shows at home – we wouldn’t sit down to your average Ken Loach film over dinner, for example – because they’re not top of the list for end-of-day watching when there’s so much easier and more entertaining viewing. Which feels like a terrible moral failing but anyway.

I also watched Todd Haynes’ movie The Velvet Underground which was excellent. I realised how patchy my knowledge of them and their music was and I enjoyed the way it was all put together. It was very much a documentary from this point in time, interviewing the surviving members. It would have been quite different if Lou Reed, Andy Warhol or Nico had been able to take part.

§ This coming week I have no plans at all. Literally anything could happen. Come back in seven days to see what amazing events have occurred.

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  1. I hear you on the book reading. For a couple years I would drive my son to his training gym for a workout and I would sit in the car and read for an hour. It was wonderful. Now he is driving himself and I don't get the reading time, but I don't have the time driving in the car so I should have that hour plus 45 minutes of reading 3 to 4 times a week.

    I find pockets of time on weekend mid-morning after errands and before the idea of a nap becomes the best thing ever.

  2. My strategy for reading more is to switch some tv watching time with my partner to reading-to-each-other time.