Monday, January 26, 2009

Victoria observations

Having no cash and no credit cards and therefore no lunch, I stop for a while in the street on the edges of Belgravia and take in the gentle caress of winter sun. Not hungry yet, but no doubt I will be soon.

A couple, the man with a child on his shoulders, approaches their 4x4 parked in front of me. The child demounts, showing off his grey public school socks, pulled up to his knee. I consider how egalitarian I am not to feel any resentment at their obviously inordinate wealth. The man, a substantial chap, speaks to his long, thin, Scandanavian wife. She tells him: "We've had a lovely lunch, please don't spoil it." They threaten to bicker there and then in the street. The wife takes her expensive platform shoes around the car and gets in. He knocks on the window. "Stress," he says to her, although whether it's his or hers isn't clear. He walks off. As she drives away she beeps the horn twice, and waves out of the window. He waves back, his back turned, as he walks down the street.

Past me walk three men. The oldest is also the fattest, a grand specimen of wealth, who walks lamely with a hospital crutch as a walking stick. His fellows seem inadequate beside him, insubstantial and unreal. Only he, with his solidity, seems to have any reality. The other two, although clad in garments of no doubt reputable manufacture, seem cheap and low quality. Doubtless they have indulged in too much exercise in their lives, and not enough eating. I have never before considered that eating to become more real may be a perfectly well-adapted habit, instead of the mark of psychological inadequacy that we are led to believe. Despite, or perhaps because, of its long-term damage - principally gout and other diseases of the rich - it seems to be a perfectly rational response to the winds of the soul that threaten to blow us away at any moment.

Outside the restaurant at which I have inappropriately dumped myself there sits a large M-reg Rolls Royce. As the owner returns to his car he tells a interested passer-by: "1973. She's 36 years old." A year older than me. A beautiful work, no doubt, with a couple of dents in the bodywork for authenticity. She looks a bit clumsy, nowadays, as though the doors don't fit as well as you'd expect. In motion, it is a glorious sight, of course, born to occupy the road, but time has not been kind to the designer's vision. As he drives past, I catch a glimpse of the front wing, which reminds me of nothing so much as a London cab.

Back at the office, I immediately feel hungry.