Thursday, 17 March 2011


Lundun, innit. People, lots and lots of people. People compressed into so small a space that they pop out of their cars and walk. En masse. But alone in their little bubbles. Squeezed into tube trains like rats. Everything turned inwards.

It's good to go back. Reminds me of why I left in the first place. The feeling if being entombed in concrete. Layers of suburb between me and hills. Remembering the train slicing through them like a drill escaping from a stack of Russian dolls.

Mine were actually bought in Russia. Thanks dad, sometimes having a Russian banker for a father was useful.

So, after a day of strategy meetings, coffee meetings, getting to know you meetings, I was tired of meetings and people. So instead of getting the tube, I walked. From the office in Islington to my mate's place in Finchley.

There's something really basic and grounding about walking through the concentric layers of city. The weird once broken regeneration of King's Cross. The tawdry plastic trendiness of Camden Town. Affluent beneath a still dirty crust Kentish Town and Tufnell Park. And then the long, long climb into the niceness of Highgate.

Before the empty moat of Hampstead Lane. People don't walk here any more. They drive or maybe run. And right into the Garden Suburb.

Where I stand gawping and open mouthed at the sheer affluence. Streets of ridiculously big, ridiculously clean and ridiculously expensive mansions. Big cars. Big trees. But not hedges or walls, I think, because the Garden Suburb won't allow them. The rich stripped bare.

And I find myself wondering what they people who live there are like. What they've done to have that much money. What their lives are like. And somewhere in the back of my mind, a small voice is asking whether in a different world, I could have sold my soul to the city. Or advertising. Or... erm, anyway.

Idle thoughts. And on across the suburb, familiar running roads. With no runners. Just big, expensive cars rushing home in a bubble of shiny luxury to slam the big, wooden double doors on the world.

Funny things legs. Much under-rated. They can take you to the top of Everest or just stand in for a tube train. Bikes are faster. But legs are somehow more grounded.

Food. Chat. Drive. Fog. Crawl. Home. Hills.


  1. "Anywhere's within walking distance, given the time."

    I love being in London as long as it's measured in hours. I'll be there for the Marathon in a few weeks and have to stay overnight....

  2. I hear you. London's great to visit and, for me anyway, festooned with old memories and places, but I can only take a day or two of it before I want to get out. I found myself pitying people running in London because I can remember exactly what it's like and I know just how much more enjoyable it is when you're not breathing in crap and hemmed in by cars and buildings... anyway, good luck with the London Marathon, I'm thinking of doing one at Kielder in October - see if biking legs can run too...