The past, it seems to be, now recedes far more quickly than ever it did, while the future approaches far more slowly and deliberately.
9.15 am: Aberystwyth’s railway station was resplendent, Arcadian – summoning a vision of a world beyond the tawdry and mundane: shot-through with glory and grace. Our rail service under the new provider is riddled with disruptions, which are themselves, riddles. An unexpected change at Shrewsbury from one train to another, and one blissfully warm carriage to a fridge. I consoled myself with an over-priced tea. ‘Gourmet’ is very wide of the mark as a descriptor.
Arrived in London at 2.15 pm, and made my way to a Premier Inn close to where my elder son lives. The room excelled itself: the customary dismal prints but, this time, hung skewiff too.
I took the bus from there towards Aldwych, over Vauxhall Bridge and passed Westminster, Whitehall, and Trafalgar Square, in the slumbering light. St Martin’s-in-the-Fields drew me into where a small orchestra was rehearsing for a concert. Every church should have a cafe in a crypt.
All I wanted to do was walk the streets, still bedecked with lights and trees – desperately clinging onto Christmas past. My elder son met me for a thick chocolate brew at Piccadilly Circus before we all made for an eatery at Victoria. Am I getting too sensitive in my elderliness, or are people talking, and the Muzak insisting itself, more loudly these days? I recorded the ambient sounds of restaurants that I frequented, back in the late 1980s. Fewer people dined out then. On replaying them, I don’t hear the clamour that I experience today.