I walked along the Grand Union Canal and felt so at peace with this city. Londoners or maybe not, walking with hurried footsteps to Paddington station, catching the train or the tube home. What is on their minds? The stresses of work? Food at home? Someone waiting at home? Or is it the loneliness that sometimes threatens to engulf this city? Boats moored at the side of the canal, waiting, waiting for something to happen. A woman standing at the bow, smoking. Green mould covering the top of the water, causing it to look viscous and solid. Don’t be fooled though, for it is clear water beneath.
Music floats to my ear and lo and behold, a boat selling books. I stopped and slowly walked down the length, perusing the title, waiting, hoping for something to jump out and catch my eye. I picked up a few titles, looked at the blurb and the price, but nothing interested me. Perhaps I had no fate with these books. Then I saw it. Standing on the shelf, was ‘life of pi’. I checked. It was only £2.50! It seemed as if the book had just fallen into my hands. Of course I had to buy it.
Exchanged a few pleasantries as I fumbled for change. They were having to move in a week’s time, to somewhere in East London. Are there canals in East London? I wondered, but didn’t ask for fear of sounding really ignorant. They waved me on with a smile.
Continuing on beside the sunlit canal with a book in my hand, I’m sure my step had an extra spring. The world looked beautiful and for those few minutes I forgot I had a dissertation to hand in, I had a city to say goodbye to, people to miss. All I had was the beauty of this place. The everydayness of it that just folds me in its arms.
If only I could describe the beauty of that evening! I do my best but words will do no justice to the picture perfect scene before me. More than once, I wished I had a camera phone that took good enough pictures so that I can at least capture the colours, if not the sound and the smell of the place. No matter, I have the memories of it to keep.