Places 5 - London:

Our American friends would insist on saying London, England. And it's true 29 other Londons are available globally. Including London, Ontario in Canada, London, Arkansas in the United States there is even a London in Kiribati. But while it's actually true that other London's are available, really there is only one.

I have had a long history with London. I was born, as many of my friends like to point out in Hemel Hempstead Hertfordshire, very close to London. So some of my earliest childhood memories are of travelling into London with my parents to go to places like the Natural History Museum the Science Museum, British Museum (the place my younger son calls the Museum of Stolen Stuff), The National Portrait Gallery, Borough Market and of course watching changing of the guards at Buck House.

Very standard London visiting fair and also formative in many ways. As an adult I have visited London regularly mainly for business but I've also had a number of very memorable weekends there over the years.

One of my favourite walks is the walk from Tower Bridge to Westminster bridge on the South Bank. But obviously there are lots of other iconic places to see. It's many parks, the world famous shopping streets, it's quirky side streets. But most of all its iconic buildings.

Today's photo was taken in the Autumn of 2018. My trip to London that day was in all senses a fairly typical one for me. I'd got up early, to get into London early, to spend a day at a conference pretending to listen when I actually wasn't. My attention span for such things is famously very short. My motive for attending the meeting was that it was a good opportunity to meet with some good customers. So fairly standard day for me when in London.

London is probably not the best place for me to be going to for any extended period of time. I've never been great with crowds so I tend to avoid. I have an absolute terror of being closed in so the underground has its difficulties. The pace of life there, the impersonality of the place, the occasional downright rudeness of the place is difficult for me to cope with.

But it is a place that has the potential always to delight you.

Because you can be walking along a seemingly innocuous street with nothing special in it. In this case it was Watling Street. I was walking back to the tube station after the event I had been attending, not paying attention particularly. Walking along a standard Street. Then I turned into Watling Street looked to my left and saw this view.

St. Paul's is as iconic a building as any in London. It struck me at the time in a new way what a beautiful building it is. It also struck me that the people in the street we're just getting on with their lives and ignoring it because it's there all the time.

Fast forward just a few months from that event, with the circumstance we are now in. All of us now deeply missing the commonplace and routine things in our lives.

I'm not great with metaphors I don't usually go for in for them, but for today it seems to fit.

And after all it's my photo.


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