It is shortly after sunrise on this Saturday morning and I’m lying curled up in bed, my feet pressed between a tabby cat on one side, her black sister resting by my head. My sister sleeps quietly in the next room. University has worn her out, but we are all so delighted she is home. Outside, the sky burns a mottled grey like the final ashes of a long-extinguished fire.
This week was long, but I sort of loved it anyway. Sitting on the tube, I perched on my seat and waited for my favourite part of the view – craning my neck as the carriages swung across the blue bridge in Finchley to see the faded cut-out of the city’s buildings. Shard, and Gherkin, BT Tower, Canary Wharf, assorted spires. All present. One day, though, lack of seats decreed I would stand on the opposite side, my back to the skyline – and I discovered a new favourite view, the modest counterpart to the glossy high-rises behind me.
This new view: a house that looks over the very view I had admired. An unassuming house, crouched at the end of a row of terraces, overlooking a tangle of tube lines – the trains performing an inelegant two-step of to-ing and fro-ing as they vanish underground. The side of the house seen from the railway is mostly plain brick, but a few tendrils of ivy cling to the highest gable. Somebody has daubed three streaks of white paint to the bottom-most bricks, and that the present occupant has not cared to scrub them away adds to its forgotten, romantic air.
The garden, too, is visible to anyone – like me – happening to be standing on a Metropolitan train southbound – so long as you’re looking the right way. It is late autumn but the leaves are still a secretive green and the back yard is a veritable mess of vines and creepers and towering trees… I imagine looking out the window must feel to the beholder like being sequestered in a tree house. And in summer…I imagine there are wildflowers, and daisies, dandelions and perhaps clematis. I hope I’m still riding this same train, come summer.
So, my new favourite view – modest in the truest sense, not in the modern sense of letting your home fall the slightest way into disrepair so it might look romantic – made me smile. I read magazines on the tube, piles of them, and spent my days – as usual – surrounded by words and pictures and walking through Regent’s Park with my sister’s voice in my ear at lunch. I tried to make the most of the evenings too, though the sky is already an inky black by the time my tired feet step out of the office – home-cooked fish pie with my aunt and uncle in their house atop the hill, a late night run on the coldest evening and a Mexican dinner date with my handsome beau (who looks even more dashing in his suit for work!)
I also thought a lot about this space while sitting waiting for my view on the Tube. What it means to me, if I’ll continue, what I’d like this space to be. Blogging is such a ubiquitous hobby now, quite fashionable, and my inner revolutionary is loath to follow the crowd: yet then I am reminded that I began writing here long, long ago – before maintaining an online journal was in vogue, or profitable. I began writing to celebrate one of the most cherished times of my life in that little studio beside that mighty river, that time of growth and light and learning to be myself. So I hope to continue, for perhaps now more than ever – now that I find myself sitting at a desk many hours each week – a place for inspiration and the sharing of thoughts is more important than it ever has been.
So, wishing you a lovely weekend wherever you may be. My plans include hugging my sister every moment I get, a Guy Fawkes night firework-disco (!!!) at a Scout hut, a relaxing swim and writing letters to faraway friends.