I have walked far too much today. After spending most of last night staring into space, unable to sleep, I decided the best cure would be to have a Saturday outing - when I am in one of these self-reflective, self-destructive moods, I find it's better if I'm out and about, rather than sitting at home, digging myself deeper into a mental hole.
So I set off this morning with the intention of visiting the Barbican's Rain Room. I've been meaning to do this for weeks and, as it closes tomorrow, I figured I'd better get my act together. Only I noticed that they had updated their approximate queue time to 6 hours. Still, I was unconcerned. Surely not. I was going to get there early, long before opening time, it would be fine.
This is the problem with London, people actually go out and do stuff. Shows sell out. Gigs sell out. Exhibitions are packed. You can't just idly wander about and act on your whims here, there are just too many people, and they're all out doing stuff. So I really shouldn't have been surprised when I got to the Barbican to find an already massive line. Now as cool as I think the Rain Room sounds, I'm not standing in a line for hours. Nope. Ain't happening. Sorry.
Finding myself so at a loss of something to do, I decided to do what I do best, wander aimlessly. But I wasn't really paying that much attention and so very quickly found myself a liiiiittle bit lost. Not helped by the fact that there is quite a lot of construction work happening, blocking streets and getting me all turned around and confuzzled. But getting lost is part of the fun and I basically refuse to look at a map (because that's cheating), so I wandered north for a bit, then east until I got to Bishopsgate, and then south and west again.
Wandering back and forth, with no clear idea of where I was going, I eventually stumbled out from between some buildings to discover St Paul's looming over me. I've found myself, I thought, and that struck me as kind of ironic, considering it was a church and all. And so, back among the tourist hordes, my time criss-crossing the winding maze of back streets was at an end.
I made my way down Fleet Street, ambling towards Trafalgar Square, and I realised I was having a fantastic day. Which sounds ridiculous, I know, because I wasn't actually doing anything, just...walking, and walking, and walking. But this city is mental and when you're walking through it, you start to really appreciate its idiosyncrasies; the way different pockets of time seem to exists all over the place. And it's like you can see the history of the city, the echoes of everything it was, interwoven with everything it is, and could still be, all around you. I think that's what makes London so intoxicating. That's what I love about it.
It just reminded me of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, which I just recently re-read (and it was even better, now that I live here.)
'There are little bubbles of old time in London, where things and places stay the same, like bubbles in amber,' she explained. 'There's a lot of time in London, and it has to go somewhere - it doesn't all get used up at once.'
Music: Providence - Foals