Sunday, November 28, 2010

Urban marvel 1959: The Lonely Londoners

Reading Sam Selvon's The Lonely Londoners, the narrative of West Indian immigrants in post-war London, I was struck by this passage which rather sums up the power of a city to enthral its inhabitants, to inspire a sense of real romance and imaginative possession. You could so easily substitute the streets, squares, and haunts of your own city:

Oh what it is and why it is, no one knows, but to have said: ‘I walked on Waterloo Bridge,’ ‘I rendezvoused at Charing Cross,’ ‘Piccadilly Circus is my playground,’ to say these things, to have lived these things, to have lived in the great city of London, centre of the world. To one day lean against the wind walking up the Bayswater Road (destination unknown), to see the leaves swirl and dance and spin on the pavement (sight unseeing), to write a casual letter home beginning: ‘Last night, in Trafalgar Square…’ What is it that a city has, that any place in the world has, that you get so much to like it you wouldn't leave it for anywhere else?

Nightmare on Main Street

Halloween is one holiday that I firmly advocate we take up with more verve below the Southern Cross. I believe I have been trick-o-treating once in my life, and attended just one Halloween-themed party; never once have we had trick-o-treaters knocking at the door of our house, certainly in the twenty-two years I’ve been in residence. But I was utterly delighted by my Halloween experience this year. I mean, the holiday has

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holiday, oh, holiday! And the best one of the year

Now that the old “holiday season” has begun in earnest, it seems that the end of the year is approaching rapidly – it’s Thanksgiving on Thursday, and Christmas is already more than in the air. There’s something contagious about the sense of holiday fun that’s circulating at the moment, something that isn’t just about excitement of a potential white Christmas. Certainly, the weather plays into it - there’s ice-skating on

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A poem on the underground

I love the subway. Any city, any system, there is just something wonderful about those rattling old trains hurtling at break-neck speed through subterranean tunnels. The subway is hot, it is crowded, it is grimy and rat-infested, it has the power to ruin your day with its delays and abrupt route alterations, and yet I love it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Why, why? Says the junk in the yard

Flea market. Flea market. It’s a phrase that, while composed of two undeniably inauspicious individual words, never fails to exhilarate me. My mind is overrun with wondrous images of rows and rows of delightful and unique stalls, housed in striped canvas tents, displaying their wares on trestle tables remnant from 1940s churchyard sales, and manned by collectors and brokers as varied and interesting as their merchandise.

Monday, March 29, 2010

On Train Travel

On my few trips through Western Europe and New England I have discovered something about myself that would never perhaps have surfaced in my native Australia – I love to travel by train. One would expect to be deathly bored, cooped up with nowhere to go for hours on end, with only the distraction of an undulating stroll to the cafĂ© car and its promise of a packet of crisps and bland, expensive coffee.