LUNCH today in the Smoke with an old friend, and what a glorious day we chose. Since it felt like summer and were in no rush we had a stroll that went on a little longer and further than planned.
Now my days in London are as few and short as I can make them, not being too keen on my home town nowadays, but today was different. Let me tell you why.
Today was different not only because of the weather, but also because the London Marathon took place. No, I don’t have a thing for runners, but I do have a thing for a civilised living, and the reason why civilised living came to town today was because the Marathon meant road closures. Look again above – there I was, in Whitehall, strolling with thousands of others in the sun where daily buses and taxis and cars, lorries and vans are backed up.
So a stroll that was meant to go from Piccadily to St James carried on, across the Mall near the finishing line, through Horseguards Parade (resembling a field hospital after 26 miles on a warm day for the runners) through Victoria Embankment Gardens, up to Covent Garden and back again to St James where I ate and drank my way through the afternoon.
The point is, dear reader, London was transformed by a few, simple, well thought out road closures today. The place is hard work, just one reason why I normally travel in with a feeling of doom. And it’s hard work in part because of the traffic. But today, without the traffic, the noise, the screeching brakes, the necessary jostling at traffic lights to get across the road, without also needing 360-degree vision to avoid being clipped by white van man cutting the corner, without all of these hastles – London was a proper pleasure even with a million extras around.
Rome bans traffic from the entire centre each Sunday and like London today it’s transformed because of it. It feels like a different city because it is a different city. It becomes incomparably more civilised than otherwise.
More please, particularly when I’m there.