Wednesday 19th October
Haven’t we just had a wonderful October? After that amazing burst of hot hot weather at the end of September, which spilled over into early October, the sun has hardly stopped shining at all. This morning I accidentally woke up really early, I mean really early, before five o’clock for some reason, and despite the ungodly hour, and maybe because it is still pitch black when I usually wake at six, I got up and sleepily showered and was ready for my breakfast before I fully realised I was over an hour early. On a complete whim I set out at a quarter to seven, and took a bus down to Westminster and decided to walk along the Embankment. It was amazing, the sun was just lifting above the South Bank complex and blazing through the London Eye, and the air was so clear that the sun seemed to fill the entire southern sky. It was a dazzling brightness I cannot remember in England before, and it was reflecting off the Thames itself, so that you really had to shield your eyes to look in that direction at all. And the sun was a fiery yellow disc of pure light that was far too bright to do anything other than squint at, and even that low on the horizon you could still feel the warmth radiating out across the almost unimaginable ninety three million miles of vast emptiness towards me. I felt as if I were the only person the sun was sending out a message of hope to, the few walkers at that hour were head bowed, oblivious of my pleasure and scurrying on their way to work. I went right up to the balustrade and just stood there with my eyes closed and arms open wide, saying good morning and hello to the sunshine. Back through St. James’s, along Birdcage Walk, across Hyde Park corner and right into Hyde Park and I ended up in Kensington Gardens itself, spirits lifted and ready for the world. Apart from a couple of roads to cross and Hyde Park Corner subways to negotiate I had walked on grass for several miles in this largely concrete city.
So splendid October days, but so cold evenings, with little or no cloud cover, and by six thirty it is getting darker by the minute, and all you want to do is to draw the drapes, switch on all the table lamps and put the heating up a touch, curl up with a good book, and puddy-tat on your lap, and wait for the little casserole you have prepared for yourself to finish in the oven. And it is amazingly silent, I cannot even hear the background hum and swish of car-tyres on the road, just nothingness, acres of blank nothingness; for a moment I am tempted to switch on Radio 3, or the television, but no, instead I swim in and relish this silence, here where it should never be, in the heart of London. Eventually one or two noises begin to infiltrate, a door slamming in another building or that muted sound of a car radio, probably on full blast inside the car, but so muffled by steel and air and glass and curtains that though I can recognise it as music there is no way you can tell the tune or even what genre it might be. Now is the time I should be writing the next wretched book, which was started a few months ago in the glow of having Catherines Story accepted for publishing, but which has begun to die a death by my negligence. I know I should really go over and breathe some life into it again, but for now I remain seated, enjoying this October night to the full.