Town Mouse

In love with Lon­don

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

AS I ap­proach my 55th birth­day, I re­alise that, with the ex­cep­tion of the 1990s, I’ve spent all my work­ing life in Lon­don, yet have never es­tab­lished roots in the city I’ve grown to love. Hav­ing lived in 15 houses be­fore I was 21, I seem to have in­her­ited the no­madic gene: there are few parts of Zones 1 and 2 that I have not perched in for short, some­times longer, spells since 1979. Ter­raced boxes in Clapham, Brix­ton and Shep­herd’s Bush; a cot­tage in pre-fash­ion­able Not­ting Hill; a tower block in Bat­tersea; the base­ment of a Chelsea linen shop; a May­fair bed­sit; a Clerken­well house with an out­side shower; a Wil­liam and Mary man­sion in Step­ney; a for­mer potting shed on Hamp­stead Heath.

How­ever, last Wed­nes­day, I en­coun­tered a view I’d never seen be­fore. Strolling late on the heath as the in­tense heat of the day cooled, I came to the top of Par­lia­ment Hill and there be­low me saw the city, pin-pricked with myr­iad red lights, sus­pended be­tween a gleam­ing white dag­ger and a low-slung cop­per orb. A crowd stood gaz­ing in won­der: The Shard, it seemed, had stolen all the Moon’s sil­ver light. What would Keats have made of this fu­tur­is­tic fairy­land, I won­dered. MM

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