London is addictive. Maybe most metropolises are, I wouldn’t know, but with its long, colourful history, and its readiness to accommodate the present without doing away with the past make London stand out among the pitifully few cities I know.
A walk through London is almost equivalent to travelling through time. This afternoon, for instance, I started at Bloomsbury, home to so many blue plaques of recognition that I couldn’t keep count, on to the British Library with its tantalising treasures, through the cemetery at Bunhill, finally ending up at Threadneedle Street, the altar of massive amounts of money and power.
Old buildings still standing erect, or restored after the London fire or World War bombing rub shoulders with the shiny new glass-and-concrete structures. The road leading away from the staid St Giles’ Church affords views of the Gherkin, and a little further on is sandwiched between skyscrapers. The newly-completed Shard looms over Tower Bridge, magnificent and grand over the Thames. Nothing feels out of place- the old isn’t cruelly pushed out of the picture to make room for the new. The haunts of the rich remain protected, bohemian quarters spring up elsewhere, and London cheerfully embraces the change and the foreign influences.
Even with the extraordinarily large numbers of people who hurry through its streets everyday, there is a sense of space and pockets of serenity about the city. In the midst of the swankiest neighbourhood, you are surprised by a little cluster of trees or a busy fountain. If you want to sit down for a think or a read, you can always find yourself a corner.
True to form, I’ve lost my heart to yet another city. London, will you please go home with me?