I’m currently on the way home from a couple of days’ holiday in London, with Russell’s Interesting conference as the reason/excuse.
The first highlight was going to … [drumroll] … the cinema! I haven’t been out to see a film since March 2020 but I figured that, on an evening in London with no plans, if it was now safe enough, apparently, for almost everyone to go about their lives unmasked, no matter where they are, maybe I could let myself go to a cinema with a mask on.
So I went to see Everything Everywhere All at Once given it sounded like a good one to see on a big screen, and it definitely was. Of course, I didn’t see anyone else wearing a mask.
The film was good and fun and probably funny (lots of other people laughed out loud) but it was a bit long and by the end I was too hot and uncomfortable and I was tired of my glasses occasionally steaming up and my mind wandered during what may have been a meaningful conversation conveying the film’s message and as soon as the credits began I was so pleased to get out into the humid and smelly – but still cooler – central London air.
Walking through Soho on a Friday night was even more of a sensory onslaught than the movie. So many people, and I am not used to such sights. And all of them having so much fun! It was delightful.
Although I was very sad to discover that the Milk Bar coffee shop on Bateman Street has closed is now part of yet another Simmons bar. I’ve been trying to remember what the coffee shop there was called before the Milk Bar. Answers on a postcard/comment/tweet!
Saturday was Interesting at the always pleasant Conway Hall and it was a lovely afternoon. Lots of brief talks by nice people, that were funny, moving, interesting. And so many familiar faces in the audience, most of whom I hadn’t seen since long before Covid Times. So wonderful to catch up with so many.
I had also, by this point, succumbed to London’s insistence that there is no Covid, and so had stopped wearing my mask, which I’ve only put on again now, as I sit on the train home on Sunday evening. I’ve seen hundreds of people inside, thousands outside, and I’m not sure I’d break into double figures if I counted the number of mask wearers I’ve seen. I find it bizarre but I just gave in, crossing my fingers and imagining how I’d pray to gods to keep me safe if I believed in any.
Other than this angst it was a great couple of days. Many fab friends, some good food, lots of walking and cycling around, enjoying seeing so many people and things and places.
§ Earlier in the week a friend posted some thoughts on Instagram, on their birthday, about how recent years haven’t only been marked, for them, by change – something we’ve all experienced in good or bad ways – but also growth.
I liked that distinction and it’s been in my mind ever since. “Growth” feels like a good thing to aim for. Less dully worthy or potentially grinding than “improvement”. Growth is still positive, but feels expansive, multi-directional, compared to the more linear forward progress of improvement.
And the alternatives to growing – stasis or shrinking – feel like things that become easier to fall into as one ages and settles down. We’d all like to think we couldn’t do the opposite of improvement – getting worse or bad in some way – but it’s easy to stop growing, or even to shrink as the years and decades slide by.
I don’t know what to do with that thought, other than to wonder whether I’ve been growing in any way over the past couple of years, and to keep an eye on it, as a long term, continuing aim. To grow, and to keep growing, in different ways.
§ We finished the new fourth season of Borgen (Netflix) which was good. Nice to see familiar faces after nearly a decade away. I enjoyed watching Birgitte keep going through one set-back after another in the pursuit of maintaining power although, after all the various struggles, the final episode wrapped up so many things far too easily and quickly.
We also watched Metal Lords (Peter Sollett, 2022) which was clichéd but sweet and fun.
§ Come back next week to see if any gods have punished me for my carefree maskless time.