London is the Great Beast; and through the injection of an aeroplane one is swept up into her blood stream, losing the identity of the individual to be a single blood cell, one part of an enormous creature. And one is pumped through tunnels underground – the veins underneath the skin; coursed through lines like biological systems and, churning in the swell of the other cells, bubbling up further to erupt! Gushing out through tube station doors and swept onto steps worn down by millions of steps over hundreds of years.
And you are born onto the streets looking up – into the light that peaks through the gaps, of peaks that dwarf you in their shadows as they reach up to the length of their stretch. And below, on the ground where we are, there is chaos from all sides as the hordes of suits and tourists blunder passed curbside salesman spruiking incomprehensible town-crier pitches. And there are a thousand signs – you can’t read them all, all bright and loud and demanding that you need whatever it is that is on them.
And you wonder if you lived here would you become one of them – would this define you? This city? For being a traveller I see people totally absorbed by this place; and I am superfluous to their requirements; London appears often indifferent to one’s presence and from all sides confidently reminds one that you need London; and London will most certainly survive without you.
And there’s a thousand accents and languages and dialects and incomprehensible colloquialisms and funny people and sad people and animated people and shy and rich and lavishly boisterous and poor and begging and lost and homeless and celebrity, lawyer, policeman and prince. They could be sitting next to me, some sort of royalty, but I don’t read the newspapers, nor do I watch television; and I treat everyone equally; and my occasional online glances are for conversation only.
And through the deep surges of passion and apathy echoes a warm glowing sensation occurring within – this feeling of being apart of something large, grand even, the feeling that one might heave on an axis and turn millions of people into a different direction entirely; being at once almost inconceivably small and magnificently important.
London. Her body divine – of bricks, cement, metal and glass. Shot up from the ground – buildings like flowers. London. Your old skin speaks without words – of the years and bodies and stories. London. Whose epitaphs – obelisk-esque – stand tall, elegantly iconic, endlessly inspiring, yet still – looking up, then looking down, one can not unnotice the wondrous gap between the dirty old stone floor; and the glorious and golden shiny peaks.
And the mirage is three hundred and sixty degrees wide; and it forces you around chasing your tail, coming back to similar places – the old haunts.
London. All your roads are full. All your doors are open. You’re Sinatra’s New York. You’re a place to make it. To be somebody. You’re a one hundred year old lemonade and there’s only one left. You’re a restaurant that specialises in mashed potato. And there’s the thought that the longer you walk the more roads become large rivers of cars and doors, one-by-one, close forever. Almost like you might wander round London, only to one day look in the shiny reflection of a shop front window and notice that you’ve become old; and wonder how it happened.
And you make a loyal friend at the Society Club, surrounded by the portraits – all leather-bound paper and ink, of Burroughs, Joyce, Wilde, Woolf and Bacon. And you write yourself in here, over a latte; and the background chatter, minimal dance, the coffee machine and staff. And we’re all here – at the Society Club; and everyone is reading, or writing, or planning. And the girl making the coffees gives you a look.
And you know as you sip your coffee, these moments will pass into eternity and will mean nothing at all very soon. And in the Society Club it could the 50s, or the 60s, or the 70s, but not the 80s, 90s, or now. We exist in a past tense – here, now; and we drown sweetly in Vintage, and Retro, and Nostalgia.
And as the dogs fight in a dance in the middle of the room, you think that the floor tiles should look like a chessboard. And you sit in a brick building that was constructed a hundred years before you were born; and you wonder at the history and stories the walls could share. And my coffee and the words come closer to the end. But the coffee will flow forever, and the words will never stop.
London. You beautiful maze that has a thousand million masks, that is a mirage upon each corner, who holds ghosts in your leather-tough hands. London, whose magic I found, whose feet brushed history, whose mind mingled with royalty. London. My city, my capital, my friend.
Adonis Storr is an English-Australian Poet, Author, Event Organiser, Master of Ceremonies and former Radio show host. He created Tasmania’s ‘Silver Words’ which has hosted an incredible array of literary talent and has been published by the Society Club in London. He toured regularly in Australia including venues like the Cygnet Folk Festival, The Festival of Golden Words and Passionate Tongues Poetry.