London

Weather in London by Mikael Covey

Got home today, gone a week. Lovely day, or terrible, depending on your viewpoint – sunny, hot, muggy. I’ll go with terrible. Nothing much to come back to, but good to be home, I suppose. The cat’s happy to see me, that’s something anyway. Apparently she’s in heat, so I guess she’d be delighted to see anybody or anything. Shouldn’t disclose such personal items about kitty, respect her privacy and all. Then again, it might have some bearing later on in the story (writer tricks, horseshit they teach you in creative writing). Yeah, you know what I mean – use those tricks and there’re so painfully obvious, it’s painful.

The house is a wreck. Shoulda cleaned it before I left, but so much to do to get ready, no time really to clean the place so it’d look nice and inviting when you return. Too bad – the little cracker box hotel room looking more inviting than your own home. Such is life. At least it was neat and clean there. And it was London, not South Dakota. I’ve nothing against South Dakota, rather be here than someplace else. But it’s nice to get away. Odd to spend a whole week without once thinking of work. So that’s sort of a vacation in itself.

And London is nice. A different perspective on things – so many people you see from all over the world. Hate to break the news to New Yorkers and Los Angelenos, but London is actually the epicenter of this little blue planet. And all those people, see them for a fleeting moment on the subway, then never again in your whole lifetime. Understanding that, to a writer, each of them is a book unto themselves. Some perhaps a slim volume, others a great large book. You can see it in their faces. A glimse at a time, then vanished forever. Which is all any of us are.

I went there for theatre, to see stuff, to meet people. And things never work out as planned. Not very exciting. Been here often, nothing much new. A good showing at the National Gallery – paintings of the Impressionists. I like the Impressionists but my little five-year old girl doesn’t. “Can’t we leave, Papa” she asks. Outside we take photos of her on the lions of Trafalgar Square, as do thousands of other folks. Prettiest young girls you’d ever see. Ah…to be young again. But you can’t, you know. Only to look at what you’ll never have. Such is life.

Met with young Ridgwell, Monday evening. A great meeting of the minds. Joe looks taller than before, and thinner. But still the great entertainer and storyteller. Takes us to the boats at Embankment where we slosh down pints of beer. Then across the bridge to all the myriad mayhem of South Bank with its noveau art and theatre and culture. Finally back to the Strand where we sample real English ale. Tell him that after a few pints it might even be good. But like all great writers, Joe has to go home and work for a living. Doesn’t matter, the spark of meeting a kindred soul in the universe is enough to make it all worthwhile; better really than anything else you might be looking for.

Not so for the theatre, which has more or less flamed out. And since London was the last best hope for great theatre, what’s left? Permit my indulgegence – I consider the live performance of drama to be among the greatest of art forms; the very pinnacle of what we humans can achieve. And it’s gone.

Little girl and I go see Wicked, a musical down by Victoria Station. She enjoyed it, as did thousands of others at the packed house. But she doesn’t know that it’s just terribly clichéd. If you’ve seen musicals you could close your eyes and guess the next scene, cover your ears and predict the next song, words and music. Apparently that’s what the writers and producers did. And it’s a huge success. But there’s no theatre here.

We go all the way out to Hammersmith to see Frozen; it closed three days ago. Then back to the city, too late, so we go to Hyde Park where little girl likes to play every evening with the Arab kids in the playground. I talk to the father of one of the little girls, a intriguing young fellow from Qatar by way of Sheffield. And again, talking to this young man is more energizing and uplifting than anything else I could do. To meet a friend here, thousands of miles from my home, who thinks and feels the same way I do about life. It’s a good feeling.

A few days later I meet with Melissa Mann at a little pub near Lancaster Gate. We talk about writing, and I wonder if anyone reads. Imagining there are more writers in the world today than there are readers. That’s a good thing and a terrible thing like a hot muggy day back in Dakota. And I think I should get out and see the world for what it is, or isn’t. And I think we should write about a better world than where we live.

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