March 2nd, 2003


Signs and seasons

There is nothing quite like going out on a Saturday morning and knowing that, even if it rains and there is a nasty edge to the wind, still there is not going to be any weather for months as nasty as the weather we have had for the past few months. Of course, this may not be true, but it is the feeling that I am talking about, not actual knowledge. Not Spring, but the feeling that Spring is somewhere in the vicinity.

The fact that the tomato shop that sells organic vine tomatos from the Isle of Wight is there when you go to the market and you know that there will be better tomatos all the way through to October or November.
And making a tomato, onion and basil salad that actually tastes as complex as it ought to.

Seasons again.

So here's the thing about living in a big city that you can get around quite easily - things happen and happen by chance. To me. A lot.

A few weeks ago, I was browsing at my favourite second-hand classical CD stall in a street market round the back of Waterloo station - mostly fruit and veg, and slightly dodgy electronics, but also bookshops and a good organic supermarket and Japanese and Cuban restaurants and, like I say, three second-hand classical CD shops, of which I have a favourite. Partly because it is cheaper and partly because it is a stall and therefore not full of opera queens sitting around comparing canaries.

And the guy who runs it is a Buffy fan, so, while I riffle through lute songs and organ recitals looking for Romantic lieder and early C20 chamber symphonies and things arranged for piano duet, we chat, about Buffy and Angel and things connected.

So we are doing this and a youngish chap with long hair butts in, but politely, you know, and he turns out to share our interest - this really annoys a lot of the other people riffling through boxes of discs, but tough. It turns out that he is the agent for a woman who sings and dances and does martial arts, and is also the brother of the woman who is making a documentary about Tony Head's partner who is a horse whisperer. London is a world city, but it is also a small world.

And I end up agreeing to look at a script he and his client have put together, because why not? So today we met for coffee and chatted about her experiences learning the court martial arts style of Malaysia which is partly based on temple dance and partly on jungle survival and partly on two-bladed machetes. She is the woman who was in that documentary about Roman women gladiators - gladiatrices? - and is a lot more interesting than her manager and not just because I am a seedy middle-age lech, honestly.

Afterwards, I am walking home - we met in a cafe about half an hour's walk from my flat and it was a nice day today - and my friends Polly and Lisa dash out of the best of the local Vietnamese restaurants and so I end up not having lunch at home. Lisa is the woman with whom I was going to co-edit RtVS, but had to drop out because of illness.

Afterwards, I walked home along the canal and watched moorhens skitting about the water, and sat and read a mordantly funny novel about women dons at Oxford falling in love, and realized how little I miss that intolerably precious and snobbish town, which was once my home for five years.