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"My London"
by Erithacus

a reply to Barnaby Kirsen's "Am I mad, or are they?"

Lights, traffic, people, noise. Everywhere movement, and nowhere peace.

Faces. Thousands, millions of faces. People of every size, shape, colour, dress. Look at them and watch them. Can you imagine who they are and what they do? Stockbroker, lawyer, estate agent, businessman all striding down the street to the next meeting. Tourists gazing at shops, buildings, monuments, signs, blocking the flow of pedestrians as they come to a sudden halt to study a guidebook or map. Girls, in clothes they canít afford trying to maintain poise as they laugh at the latest office gossip and push the costs of their next season ticket out of their minds. Women, smart in their business suits achieving poise and a self-assured confidence in infiltrating a domain commanded solely by men twenty years ago.

Change. It all changes. As surely as the wave upon wave of people changes from minute to minute, so change the buildings, the roads, the one-way streets, the maps. Everywhere the sound of construction. Everywhere a new shop. Everywhere a new sight. Everywhere the old is ripped down to make way for the new; everywhere the new is ripped down to make way for the newer; everywhere the newer is replaced with the old. Everywhere change. Yet nothing changes.

Smells. Deep and delicious from a thousand restaurants the smells of a world of cooking drift lazily. Smells. Exotic perfumes with hints of far-off destinations waft from a million women. Why? Why not. To attract; to hide; to conceal; to influence; to control. Smells. Stale beer from the pub with its doors flung wide in the summer heat. Exhaust from a thousand crawling vehicles. Sweat from a million stressed executives. Urine from the alley between the shops. Hot metal and stone. Smells. Mingling in the stagnant air into that unique flavour in the nostrils, on the tongue, clinging to clothes and skin to be rushed far away as the afternoon draws to a close and the intercity speeds far away.

Action. Always action. We canít stop. We wonít stop. Sell, sell, sell. Buy, buy, buy. Talk, eat, dance, look, listen. A million advertisements shout the same message "Act Now!" Sleep? No. How can you sleep when there is so much to do, so much to see, so much to hear, so much to spend? "Live in the fast lane and run with the elite" proclaim a million hoardings in a million different ways to the creeping cars. And they do. They must. Further and further, faster and faster they must go, else stagnation overtakes them as surely as it does that hot, summer air filling the streets.

Happy? Oh yes. Stress on every face, yet this is what itís all about. This is life. This is the buzz. This is the high to end all highs. Drugs? No. Drugs everywhere, in clubs, in bars, on street corners after dark. And the buyers? Trying to capture that high they can never find until they become a part, a real part of the city around them. Trying to capture the high that must capture them and turn the flat, grey stone of life into the flashing, kaleidoscope of colour and speed that is this city, and a high that never ends. 
Why canít they see it? 

This is London. My London.

I love this city.






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