6 p.m.

I Hate London
Kathryn White

I’ll say it again: I hate London. Truly abhor it. I fly here only to catch another flight out. While I am here, between flights, I placate myself with art, shopping and a meal at a nice gastro-pub. In the last two days I have stared into Bacon’s gnashed noses at Tate Modern, popped into the National Gallery to see my red-haired Degas, seen Rothko’s breathing rectangles alongside Turner’s churned light at Tate Britain, shopped at Topshop, H&M, Office and Mango, got stuck in a shoe fight at Primark, not bought anything at Zara and eaten rolled pork with Bramley apple sauce at aforementioned gastro-pub overlooking the steely Thames. Alone of course. Always alone. Today was supposed to be spring. Twilight is approaching. There is some park below me. In Africa it would be a crepuscular haunting, the hackles of dusk’s fur rising, the musk of spring crawling through the air. But here the sun is setting as it never exactly rose: dully, shrouded beneath an old, old jacket with burrs as stars. For England is old, she is very old. And not old as in bleached bones beneath Kalahari dust or Moor voices singing across desert sand or even golden-grained air of Edinburgh old. No, England is old as in creaking. Houses stacked together, mildew, damp rising, wallpaper the faded flowers of a forgotten empire, taps that spit and hum brackish water, sooty air, musty alleys of decomposing brick, lumpy graveyards bordered green with gorse. She is the park beneath me, the park suspended in cobweb mist.

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