mjj (flemmings) wrote,

July is always a loss but this one especially needs a do-over. So I abandoned all plans and started rereading my favourite Matthew Price, The Minority Council. As Kara has said, like the whole series it's a postcard/ love letter to London. And as I was reading Matthew casting his gaze over the sweep of the small-c city, it occurred to me (possibly a bit belatedly) that I really don't *like* London myself.

As a purely narrative construct, it's fine as the source of Griffin/ Matthew's akogare, but approaching it as a place I know (or rather, knew)-- err, really, what are you on about? Cold, grubby, and much more Housman's version
But here in London streets I ken
No such helpmates, only men;
And these are not in plight to bear,
If they would, another's care
than Dr Johnson's (which was colder and grubbier and much more violent, let us not forget.) Even the physical city doesn't come across as friendly or consoling or indeed anything but obstructive. Maybe you have to live there for the 'we are all Londoners' spell to work.

(Of course I felt a bit differently in the 60s and early 70s, between the lingering atmosphere of the war years and the lingering romance of the British Invasion. The grubbiness and tackiness was a badge of honour. 'That's *historical* dirt!' Since Thatcher, though... mh, no. Concrete and steel is the same everywhere; and the human side is not improved by it.)

New York I can see as the source of this kind of emotion. Paris perhaps, in spite of the inhabitants. Tokyo I might do myself, though I still wonder how Tokyo's magic works for the Tokyoites, not the foreign observer's.
Tags: place, rivers, verse

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