I’m crap with the blogging, I know.
[insert self-flagellation and excuses here. If looking for inspiration, just check out previous blog posts]
A week or two ago I went to a book club. Because I am almost 30 and people who are almost 30 do things like go to book clubs and wear sensible pastel clothing with good shoes rather than dancing all night and taking drugs and piercing every piece of spare skin that is thick enough to jab a piece of metal through (yes, ok, you got me, I never danced all night and/or took drugs and the only piercings I have are in my ears. And, once, at a time when other kids were terrifying their parents with their rebellious, self-destructive behaviour, I stayed up all night to read “Memoirs of a Geisha”. In fact, I would have gone to a book club as a teenager if the opportunity had presented itself, its just the other teenagers didn’t seem interested. Really, wasn’t high school just an enforced book club? Which is probably why I loved it so much and got so offended when people didn’t do the readings).
Anyway. I went to a book club. It was being hosted by my friend who lives in Harrow, which was quite exciting, because I had never been to Harrow and I had this crazy idea a few months ago that I would attempt to visit every tube stop on the map before leaving London and detailing my experience/impressions of each place on the blog. It is a crazy idea I have done nothing about, because we all know how my crazy blog ideas work out. That’s right, they don’t.
So, basically now I am just keeping score, in my head, of how many tube stations I have managed to get to. And Harrow gave me the opportunity to tick off another.
The first exciting thing about Harrow was that I had to take the purple Metropolitan line, which I had never taken before. I know, I know, when will the excitement end? But, seriously, guys, it is exciting, because there are no stops on the Metropolitan line in Zone 3! (People not familiar with London’s tube map will not understand the significant of this. Basically, the inner-city is Zone 1 and then it fans out in concentric circles in increasing numerical order to Zones 8, 9, 10, where you’re not really sure if you are in England anymore, let alone London. So, to not have any stops in Zone 3, its like, woah. This train is going out to the suburbs, man. And, straight out to the suburbs. Once you get on the train to the suburbs, you don’t get off until you’re in the suburbs)
Anyways, you get out at Harrow station and that’s when you realise you’re not in London city anymore. Because they don’t have maps everywhere for the tourists. Also, because everyone here has enough money/is grown-up enough to either own a map, or (more likely) own a smart phone. So, free maps are not really on offer, which rather ruined my normal mode of getting about in London. Instead I (rather cleverly, I have to admit), walked to the local gas station on the hunch that they would sell road maps. They did. I did a big act of picking up each road map of the area and looking at it and considering it and then finding out where my friend lived and then replacing each map, shaking my head and sighing and muttering to myself, ‘Its just not quite right’ with a look of consternation (I might point out that the nearest shop assistant was approximately 3 metres away from me. I also had my back to them, so most of this fine and subtle acting was lost to… pretty much everyone in the shop except me. But I figured it would help to get into character of a woman looking for a particular type of road map and had not found it, just in case anyone did get out from behind the counter and challenge me. I’m totes method).
I continued my journey away from the gas station and realised that as soon as you turn off the main motorway, Harrow gets pretty real quick. And that kind of tasteful, old-worldly pretty that looks like it should be in a Miss Marple episode. It also stinks of money. Actually, ‘stinks’ is unfair. It implies that I wasn’t enjoying the view. And that would be untrue. Harrow ‘wafts’ of money. It was all very tasteful, very pretty money. I liked, very much, to look at it. But I was also aware, in my cracked Docs and my black pants and my denim jacket covered in homemade badges that I didn’t *quite* belong. I was walking around very cautiously, arms pulled in, like one would walk around one’s grandmother’s living room, terrified of accidentally knocking over and breaking all of those china figurines she has so proudly displayed. In fact, I was half-convinced that someone was going to come up to me and ask me to leave. Like those sales assistants in ‘Pretty Woman’, except they’d be asking me to vacate the entire suburb. This was only enhanced by my encounter with two Harrow residents who were dressed in a fine selection of tan, white knits and high khaki wellies that looked like they hadn’t even heard of mud, let alone walked through it. These two fine elderly folk were walking down a completely empty footpath towards me and instead of going single file to allow me to pass (as one would do in busy London), they forced me to walk in the gutter. The gutter! That’s what they thought of me! They turned me into a guttersnipe!
The book club itself was delightful fun, with far too many brownies, tartlets, dip, quiche and biscuits. There was considerable discussion of the book, NW by Zadie Smith, but not too much as one of the people in the group hadn’t finished it yet. On the way back to the station, we walked over the hill and through the park, where families were setting off loads of fireworks for Guy Fawkes Day. On the pitch-black hill, trying to ignore our irrational terrors of zombies and ghosts and murderers, we looked out across the Northern London suburbs and watched as fireworks flew into the night-sky from all over the North of London, speckling the darkness in a sweetly haphazard and charming way. Sure they weren’t as spectacular and considered as the ones let off Sydney Harbour Bridge each NYE, but it was rather like comparing a homemade cake to a store-bought one. Good things about both, really and it just depends on what you’re in the mood for.
And so I thought, ‘well, there probably are some nice things about the suburbs and turning 30 and being domestic, after all.’