I must have been born to a gipsy father and a fair lady who would not be allowed to marry the love of her life and collapsed in sorrow. Together my birth parents decided to entrust me to the parents who actually brought me up as they knew this union would be safe by societal standards, my father a cheeky bugger who would only have it his way and my mother – well, the best mom in the world.
Otherwise I cannot explain the desire I have always had to get lost in the world and travel and travel and always go away. The drive I have to burn and demolish everything at the moment either and start from scratch again – in London or in another part of the world altogether, sell everything I have got and live off everything that remains. I should have spent less time with The Minimalists.
My souls is pretty much gipsy. My manners have always been 100% so.
I ventured South of the river.
En route to White Cube in Bermondsey, I discovered little quaint corners that shone brightly in the autumn light, underneath the brown and yellow leaves.
I said to myself Bermondsey could be an option should I decide to buy a flat in London and settle. It’s close to the centre and retains a village-y sense, too.
I found this exact sense in East Village of Bermondsey, a coffee shop that I walked into as soon as I left White Cube. I let the decorum and the design lure me in, as the place reminded me of Marlow & Sons in Williamsburg – home of a lot of almond lattes consumed on the occasion of Saturday brunches – and Freeman’s – another coffee shop where I left a lot of money, tips, exchange rate and bank transfer fees.
I immediately felt like I wanted to sit at the bar, which I almost never do because it feels impersonal and unnecessarily lonely – but this time I went straight in, pulled out my Monocle and started leafing through it ordering an espresso and spicy grilled squid (“What a combo”, I said to the hostess) and thinking how many kilometres I would have to factor in in the month of October ahead of travelling to New York for the marathon and hopefully smashing it there.
And then my creative juices started flowing and my train of thought made me ask the bartender for a pen that I used to scribble down this post while using the White Cube press releases as my canvas.
And as I looked at the people at the bar, ordering and enjoying their food and drinks, I wondered what made transition places like bars, hotels and airports so appealing and special. It’s probably the illusion of your own space and the intimacy of being in others’ company, I said to myself.
Then as I slowly made my way home I knew I would spend some time trying to decipher my handwriting, which a colleague recently said he found beautiful, but unreadable.
That makes two of us, R.
That makes two of us.
Saturday afternoon at a seafood restaurant in Covent Garden where I decided to go because the memory of their food as served in Portsmouth last summer, when things were still sweet, lingered in my mouth.
I look out the window and notice the people sitting outside at the brasserie across the street. There’s a lady puffing a cigarette looking bored and a couple of guys seemingly chatting to each other. A black cab crosses the street and it appears to be carrying four people at the back – I can tell and I can count. A suave mademoiselle cycles down the junction – she looks half French, half nonchalantly Brit.
Everywhere the rain is falling and I wonder if the air outside is purified and fresh. I have water on my mind.
I liked it better in Portsmouth.
The food. I mean.
As you are conceived and born into this world, I would like to think there will still be sufficient beauty around when you arrive for you to understand this place and why it has been created to begin with.
I will make sure that as you grow up you will be able to run barefoot down country roads, unsettle the dust and make your way to me with flaming cheeks letting me know you got yourselves into trouble.
The food you eat – you will know it is the fruit of the land around you and you will see it grow, pick it, you will unpick it. You will be able to touch it with your hands and smell it and you will connect with it beyond the transparency of a barcoded cellophane which I will make sure will not be there.
You will know your feet need to touch the sand and the grass barefoot instead of asphalt and you will know that animals belong in the wild and that they are a lot smarter and intuitive than we actually like them to be.
You will live in a home of infinite simplicity and you will know it is enough. You will have a Mom and you will have Dad, far freer, wiser and wilder than I will ever actually be.
– Good luck
I was walking home late on Friday evening several weeks ago when two four-legged silhouettes pouncing around the cars parked on the street caught my attention. They turned out to be foxes as I drew up closely – and I felt sorry that animals that otherwise belong in the depths of a forest were scavenging for food amidst houses, parked cars, busy streets their feet touching the modern-day cement.
News of animals in captivity or species on the brink of extinction at the back of my mind, I felt as though we were closing in on the habitat of all living creatures more than ever. And that we will continue to do so and stop only when we have placed their final specimens behind glass enclosures, admiring them as “unique” and “last ones standing” – just as we’re currently ogling at beautiful objects in window shops wanting to buy them.
A couple of days later I opened the fridge and got hit by a wall of medium, small, smaller boxes full of packaged food looking at me – and not one single item of loose greens in sight. Why does there have to be so little contact between us and the food we eat, I thought again: it’s almost like we don’t even want to see it on its way down to our stomachs.
A meme was circling the internet a couple of years ago – a visual of mankind throughout its history with Home Sapiens at the right-end of the development spectrum deciding to turn back – because “we fucked up everything”.
There is a disconnect between us, our own nature and the wider nature at the moment – how can we stop and fix this before we indeed fuck up everything and eat ourselves out of horse and home?
President Macron said it best, “There is no Planet B.”.
I have summed up my experience attending a class in Abstract Painting at Pratt Institute in New York in the following article on LinkedIn.
“Lord, I have fought against your silence.”
“I suffered beside you. I was never silent.”
“I know. But even if God had been silent my whole life, to this very day, everything I do, everything I have done, speaks of Him. It was in the silence that I heard your voice.”
“That’s the thing about unhappiness. All it takes is for something worse to come along and you realise it was actually happiness after all.” (The Crown, Season 2, Dear Mrs Kennedy)
I have come to appreciate and rather enjoy lazy Saturdays spent on my couch. A to-do list, a couple of books and magazines, a Prime subscription, a cup of coffee and my MacBook by my side are all I need to partially relax, partially connect to what is coming next.
I am one of those people who need down time to relax and recharge and paradoxically quiet time to get things done.
Some days I feel like I don’t want to move. Today has been one of those days.
I have greatly enjoyed this Saturday afternoon, walking through West London, visiting the Design Museum and musing over the “Ferrari: Under The Skin” exhibition.
I have greatly enjoyed walking back home from my local tube, feeling the crisp and cold winter air. It reminded me of Scandinavia and of when I was thinking of moving there for a couple of months to better experience their lifestyle.
J: “It wasn’t personal.”
K: “What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means was that it wasn’t personal to you. But it was personal to me. It’s personal to a lot of people. And what is so wrong with being personal anyway?”
K: “Because whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”
*The time that Kathleen Kelly, Meg Ryan’s character, nailed the issue of taking things personal(ly) in “You’ve Got Mail”, Warner Bros, 1999.
Today I learned that one way of breaking down a wall, in this case physical limits, is to stay on the path and push through – the desire to stop when you arrive at the point on the path where you normally do tend to take a break; the desire to say that you will break those limits tomorrow or on another occasion. The feeling that you will literally die if you push yourself just that bit further.
I pulled myself from the ladies’ locker room today, went up the flight of stairs to where the treadmills are in the gym and ran another 10 kilometers, because I knew I could not go home without giving myself the victory over this now-to-be-beaten boundary and breaking the promise I had made to myself that I would break through the 15 kilometers mark two weekends ago.
The New York Marathon takes place on the 4th of November 2018. There are numerous other walls and limits to push through until then, including the walls and the limits that are associated with the actual day of the event. But I have seen runners push through those last few miles of the marathon on previous occasions in New York and they seem more exhilarated by the prospect of finishing their race than by the pain they have endured to get there.
That marathon has a finishing line – and I will cross it in nine months’ time. This is resolve, not arrogance.
The rest is process.