Saturday, 21 July 2012

London in the Rain

I was up in London this week, at a meeting in the London School of Economics library.  The longer in the tooth I get, professionally, the less I enjoy this sort of thing. It is annoying, in the company of ambitious young people on whom the Terrible Truth has not yet dawned, to find yourself forced to play the grey-bearded, seen-it-all skeptic.  Someone has to do it, though, and I am perfectly cast in the role.  I have not only seen it all, I have seen it all twice.

But never mind, I love central London.  Even on a day of torrential rain, the romantic power of the Thames is inescapable.  To walk from the South Bank over Waterloo Bridge to the Strand and beyond, is like stepping onto a stage.  Other cities are grander, or more picturesque, but none is more multi-layered, more mysterious, more full of life, than London.

It is too overwhelming for the infrequent visitor to understand, though, much less photograph. I always have the feeling, in the streets of central London, that I am an innocent outsider, a beginner who understands nothing, a traveller with no destination. Once, that was true.  Now, rather less so.  But it's a good feeling to have, and it was fun to stand on a street-corner opposite Bush House, eating a takeaway lunch, just watching the people and the traffic pass by in the rain.

South Bank backstreet


Martin said...

I was once a frequent visitor, but I haven't been to London for almost a decade. Although, as the grandchildren grow, I'm probably being primed for the second cycle.

Mike C. said...


A decade?? Well, you know what Samuel Johnson said: If a man is tired of London, he is saving a small fortune in rail fares...


Sean Bentley said...

Hmm, now did you really mean "much less photograph," or perhaps "let alone photograph"? That darn double positive throws me ("too overwhelming"). Is it much less too overwhelming? That would seem to make it easier to photograph, when I think you mean it's more difficult... My brain hurts.

Mike C. said...

Sean Bentley,

I have always been under the impression that "much less" and "let alone" were fairly equivalent, but I could easily be wrong. You're probably right, though, that "let alone" would be less ambiguous.

There's a discussion of the topic here: