Sunday, 29 April 2012

Covening with nature

Driving back from Thaxted tonight was a hugely unnerving experience. It’s rained really heavily all day, and the country lanes are flooded like I've never seen before. Huge walls of water were billowing up on both sides of the car as I drove through enormous puddles. Heavy rain lashed the windscreen. It was really very frightening, one of those nights when you half expect to do an emergency stop for a ghostly man riding a white horse who disappears before you’re fully aware of his presence. I’m very pleased to be back in Highgate.

We met a charming, nutty, glorious, remarkable New Yorker last night, and as true proud Londoners, ashamed of the rain, decided to give her the grand tour of our city. One of my favourite things in the world is taking a New Yorker around London for the first time. The two cities are like brothers, like no other pair of cities in the world, but you need an insider to unlock the doors which take you beyond the obvious.

After Nathan's show we bundled her into our car, drove across Tower Bridge and round Big Ben and then up through Camden to a misty, moisty, eerie Hampstead Heath, where we convened with nature until 2am. We visited mystical circles of trees, skipped through the damp grass, sang to the stars and stared down at the magical city lights from the top of Parliament Hill. It’s been a long time since I’ve allowed my inner hippy to escape, but it was a deeply enriching experience, which Cindy, our new American friend, seemed to relish as much as us.

I’ve spent the day with lovely Helen, my parents and a number of Thaxtedonians in front of a roaring open fire, eating cream teas and playing parlour games. It’s been the perfect antidote to a rainy, cold miserable April day and exceedingly merry we all were too!

This time last year, on the day of the Royal Wedding, we were in the middle of a heatwave. Now it feels like the great flood is just around the corner. Even the tarmac under the tunnels on the M25 looked like a river!

350 years ago, Pepys, still in Portsmouth, still waiting for the future Queen of England to touch down on English soil, had a lovely philosophical debate with his new surgeon friend. The conversation was obviously hugely enlightened and mutually enriching because it resulted in Pepys being invited to join the Royal Society, known in those days as the College of Virtuosos. Doctor Timothy Clarke even offered to teach Pepys anatomy, which caused more than a ripple of excitement!

1 comment:

  1. Ah Ben it's been such a while since I visited misty, moisty hampstead Heath. I am currently up near bath where the rain lashing has taken to new heights but I am determined to don wellies and explore the beautiful countryside