London's a city. There's only so much beauty available in a city that houses 8 million people it's not really designed for, but it's there, definitely. Not always - a glance out the train window the other day, between Vauxhall and Clapham Junction, confirmed that as quickly as I took in the square, squat high-rises (now you know, there can be such a thing as a squat high-rise) spaced out in some seemingly random arrangement, desolate scrubby weeds stretching in between to bring them together in an image of complete harmonious futility.
I imagined living in one of these places, right by the railway track, and found it necessary to pass comment (I had a couple of workmates in tow, I didn't just talk to the rest of the carriage). They agreed, but it was followed up by the revelation that one of them once dated a guy who lived in one of them - and inside it was really nice, with a pool in the basement. Just goes to show you don't know what is hiding inside a hideous shell, especially here. The external is not a reliable indicator of where your judgment should lie.
This isn't a moral lesson or anything, I really am just talking about London generally, and housing specifically. My own house I wouldn't have rented if basing my opinion solely on the exterior, or the communal hallway, but inside the flat it's lovely (yes, admittedly, falling to pieces, but it looks great and when you don't own the place, that's what counts). Outside the front of my place is a small patch of tired looking 'garden' that plays temporary host to some really rank rubbish every time Fulham play at Craven Cottage (kebab wrappers with leftover chili sauce, anyone?) and upon walking past this and in the front door, you're greeted with a dark hallway with old carpet that is an odd kind of non-colour, marked with darker patches of long-unidentifiable stains. And, if you're me last night, a nasty smell, tinged with a vague whiff of what can only be described as 'toilet'.
I headed up the stairs last night with my eyes squinched shut and fingers and toes crossed, muttering under my breath 'don't be my place, don't be my place...' This calling upon the gods of London flatting worked a charm, and it was to a clean, pleasantly fragrant flat that I opened the door, as well as H1 in a stellar mood, thanks to the same reasons as me. We peered out our bedroom window at the Bottom Floor Boys, outside investigating something that we assumed to be the source of the random smell, so grateful it was them, despite the fact that we quite like them.
London London London. Hideously ugly with rampant beauty hidden everywhere, just waiting for you to find it and make the most of it before everyone else finds it too. Randomly smelly (this happens when you hold 8 million people, and have the infrastructure to support about three) and so extremely odd. If you were a parent, and London was your child, I feel like you'd blame yourself entirely and be driven to drink. Maybe this is why Gordon Brown is getting odder.
In other news, I note that I've used a lot of brackets in this post. Due to an afternoon of almost solid copywriting I feel guilty about this lazy device, but not guilty enough to amend. Besides, brackets may have no place in copy for bed linen, but in a blog they serve their purpose perfectly, neatly bracketing my off-tangent ramblings into self-contained witty points (or so I like to think).