When you get used to a certain state of mind, and certain conditions of life, events that shake it become emotionally destabilising. Having cultivated – even appreciated – a certain level of agoraphobia for a long time, going out yesterday morning induced a shocking elation. I found myself walking through the mist loudly whistling one of the most emphatic tunes from Shostakovich’s 5th. Quite what Shostakovich would have made of that – given that he wrote it as a pastiche of accessible, popular music – “tunes that the people could hum” – I’m not sure. How many layers of irony there are in that I don’t know.
When – and if, because you can never rule out this government just never solving the problem – we are out the other side of COVID restrictions, a lot of previously humdrum social activities will take on a manic and explosive edge.
Having got used to the gloom of living inside a false narrative, I felt a similar elation when Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension from the Labour Party was lifted; reminiscent of Basil Fawlty’s comment “Happiness? Oh yes. I remember that.” Withholding the Whip and the subsequent silencing of dissent by administrative methods meant that we were back to business as usual with an ever extending ban on discussing anything that might relate to the issue; now extending to resolutions on sponsored bike rides to raise funds for Palestinian children.
Mid winter casts the day as twilight at noon and the ten magpies that were perched and preening in the tree opposite have taken flight one by one. Ten for a bird you must not miss. I counted them all in, and counted them all out again.
Its odd having to use money. The actual stuff. A blue note with Churchill growling in the corner. I remember those. The story is that his defiant look in the picture was a response to having his cigar taken out of his mouth before it was taken. The Jam song “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” comes to mind with the line about the Queen’s head on a coin being “smiling, beguiling” – which I always thought was “smiling big Eileen”, could never understand and thought that perhaps it might have meant something in Woking. Even so, the Queen’s head on coins in never smiling; always both graven and grave. And “beguiling” for any of her images is a bit of a stretch.
A teenager zips by on an electric scooter, his toddler sister hanging on to the handlebars like grim death.
Along the Hyde, a mural showing car sales from “between the wars” – a phrase that could describe any time really – has been painted over. Although it was probably not original; a conscious piece of nostalgic reproduction and marketing – a Ploughman’s Lunch in wall painting form – its another link gone with the engineering past of that stretch of the Edgware Road. Formerly the site of the vast Airco factory that produced the Royal Flying Corp’s aircraft in World War 1 and was, by 1918, the largest aircraft factory in the world with the most up to date equipment and which, without the state support that sustained the industry in France and the USA after the end of the war, went bankrupt by 1920. Those who refuse to learn the lessons of history…
A pair of wagtails dance and flit in the ghost space between the Loon Fung supermarket – where interesting vegetables and an extraordinary variety of mushrooms live – and the currently shuttered Bang Bang Food Hall.
I hope its not mawkish to think it appropriate and fitting that in Tim Brooke Taylor’s final appearance in “I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue”, he finally made it to Mornington Crescent.