South Kensington and its red-bricked houses are my favourite promenade on a weekend afternoon in London. They have small surprises for the wondering passer-by, the blue plaques indicating their previous inhabitants of the houses that I find most fascinating. I’d perhaps like to interview or at least meet the people who now live in the same house where George Elliott, the author of Middlemarch, used to live. I’d also like to talk to the people who inhabit the house where the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók lived and worked when he was in London.
If I knocked on the doors of some of these houses, I wonder – who would be there to open them? Would the doors open to the present or would they open to the past? Would there be a contemporary man or woman there to greet me or an 18th or 19th century character bowing with respect? Should I talk to them about the matters of the world today or about the matters of their time? What would we have for dinner? Would we have homemade along with some convenience foods and drinks or homemade all the way? Would there be a contemporary family there, a single man or a single woman whose house I would enter or a Victorian family, a husband and a wife, with their children, and additional helps around the house? What would I be wearing? A pair of jeans and a white shirt, a jumper dress or some long, romantic attire I’d probably need half a day to get into?
London has plenty of sites like these and it has been clever enough to preserve them and make them known. It’s always a pleasure to stroll down its streets at the weekend and discover the spirit of streets past. It gives a sense of accomplishment to the entire day. 🙂