Arrive in London & wait for the tube. A lady asks me for advice on her journey. I give her my suggestion & we board the same service. We stand chatting for the rest of our shared path. People say ‘Oh, if you live in London, no-one talks on public transport’. I say: that’s their loss. I often chat to strangers. Yes, some are weird but on the whole it’s one of life’s great pleasures – a mine of treasure.
Newsagents: man in front of me stops to buy a mint ‘Feast’ ice lolly. I immediately decide I must have one too. I walk around the corner to the archive, where I stand, leaning on a bike rail, eating my lolly in the sunshine. For a moment I’m a child again, playing in the front garden after the ice cream van’s been round. I may not have had a mint ‘Feast’ since that moment. As Woolf observes, how can I be both here & there? But I’m not in the garden; it’s twenty years later & I’m happily stood munching a lolly on a street in East London.
Inside the archives: I get on with my work. I keep dashing down three floors to get a drink. My on-going kidney problems cause a bit of nightmare in the drink-free world of archives. A kind librarian says I can leave my water bottle on the main desk in the room where I’m working. Hurray! For the rest of the day, I’m in the zone & embraced in the world of my work. Even Thursday’s aims are achieved by 4.30pm on Wednesday (useful, as it turned out).
I dismiss the pain in my chest as not having had enough lunch.