Things have been all quiet on the blogging front lately, but I've been plugging my way through the epic that is Lanark, been busy with various writing ventures, and I've been for a trip to London. For those readers that don't know, I was born in a town (Falkirk) with a population of less than 35,000 people. Then I spent four years in a smaller coastal town (Dunoon) with less than 8500 people. As far as I'm concerned, the city I live in now (Edinburgh) is massive with just under 500,000 people. Okay, so that's all numbers. London has more than 7,500,000. Yeah. Exactly.
So London overwhelms me. I love it, and it's great. But it's so massively huge. Ridiculous. It makes sense that it's been an attraction for writers and artists for centuries. I wasn't off the train long before I was scribbling notes about the place, about how different it was - and I hadn't even left the train station. And it's the writers who I made a point of visiting while I was there.
First stop was half of the resting place of Thomas Hardy. Thomas Hardy wanted to be buried in Dorset, and his heart was buried there, but his ashes are in Westminster Abbey. It's a curious thing, and very sad, because it wasn't what he wanted - atheist/agnostic, not a fan of institutions. Rudyard Kipling was one of Hardy's pallbearers, and it was beautiful to see that Kipling is buried beside him. Westminster Abbey is a stunning place, for all the tombs and the sheer beauty of the building. In all, it was very humbling to be there, to see his resting place. It was a little pilgrimage that I am very pleased that I made. Hardy is buried in poets' corner, along with Browning and Dickens. And there was a monument to Shakespeare too.
Shakespeare's Globe theatre was reconstructed in 1996 afer years of hard work and fundraising. It's a gorgeous place, and has been replicated according to architect papers found from the Elizabethan age. We had a fanastic tour of the theatre, and it was only shame that I wasn't in London long enough to have booked tickets for a performance there. It was all very exciting, to think of how theatre and drama worked in the 1600s and how it makes a difference to actors and audience today to perform in a very similar space - natural light, no microphones, live music, and trap doors. Seeing a performance there today would be a far better experience that seeing it in the stinking midden that it would have been back then. Yuck. (In fact, the same can be said for London itself!)
But for the Thomas Hardy loving and the Shakespeare happiness, I immersed myself in the huge cosmopolitan spirit of the city. I felt especially foreign when asking for an Earl Grey tea (you try it in my accent, compared to any English one) but I was just another voice, another visitor, in the huge vast concrete greatness. London is a fun place to be, and a great city to spend time with friends, but I couldn't live there; I think I'd just get lost.