Friday, 3 September 2010

This is London. Huh?

David’s only gone and been and done what Lambethite William Blake seldom advocated: he’s left London. The London part of his brain, however, like Soho’s famous Windmill Theatre, never closed. Here’s his dispatch from climes exotic…

“Measure.

Lovely word.

Not least because it's got the right sound for what it is.

Listen.

Measure.

You can hear it.

There's exquisitely fine calibration taking place right across the word. And I mean all the way through. There's no hard, abrupt, delimiting consonant at the end of measure – just pure calibration.

Now what's in a word?

Well, quite a lot actually. Especially when sound and meaning conjoin.

I've glommed on to measure here at the edge of the Adriatic at summer's end because 1) I've just got back from a sojourn in the 14th-century and 2) the London Walks Blog has made me homesick.

Huh?

Ok, let me spell it out. The plain fact of the matter is if you spend any time at all in the 14th-century you're going to have to do some readjusting - recalibrating - measurement-wise when you get back to the 21st-century.

Just by way of example, they sell bread in the 14th-century by weight, not by the loaf. And you really have to have your wits about you. Have to have your wits about you because the place is full of shysters who make the weight up by ‘seeding’ the dough with stones. (In our line of work – in our time – the equivalent would be the little Johnnys – the scammers – who try to pass themselves off as London Walks on the Internet. Caveat emptor!)

Or time. Time's a free for all in the 14th-century. They keep it, tell it, measure it – you choose, they sure do – by the sun or church bells or those new-fangled wonders: clocks!

Thus our 7 o'clock. O'clock. Of the clock, in other words. Or by the clock. As opposed to sun time or church bell time.

And the homesickness? Well, surely one measure – there's our word again – of how good the London Walks Blog is is that it's made me homesick for London. And to get that into perspective, it's maybe worth stressing that I'm writing from the Med's Shangri-La. Imagine a miniature, picture-perfect version of Toledo (Spain). A miniature, picture-perfect Toledo in the wine-dark embrace of two arms of the Adriatic instead of 60 dusty miles yon of Madrid on the Castilian plateau.

Yes, some of you will have guessed, it's Rovinj, the jewel of the Adriatic. Rovinj – 9/10 of the way to heaven and as far away from homesick as is on offer under cerulean skies.

But Ann's piece on Foodies' London and Adam's piece on the London Underground and those photos of London shot by that Canadian pilot from the cockpit of his airliner have done it. I'm homesick.

No wonder this blog's developed a following!”

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