Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Travel notes: Tour de Restraint

Technology--the high kind, anyway--never works quite as one hopes, and this becomes really evident during travel. The power adapter turns out to be incompatible with the charger for the bluetooth earphone that you were hoping would communicate walking directions in London discreetly to your ear from Google Maps, which in any case fails after half a day of tramping around because the battery in the mobile device is sucked dry by the GPS connection.

Strangely enough, it's still worth doing, this travel thing. There is, I can now say from experience, a huge difference between choosing an address for a fictional character by staring long and hard at Google Maps, and actually walking up to the door of that address and hearing the heavy traffic in the next street.

Knowing that it's a mile and a half from that address to the one occupied by another character is nothing like walking that mile and a half and feeling the shift from respectable to resplendent, and the pleasant relief of turning from a busy thoroughfare into the quiet side street. "Your destination is on the right," says the navigation voice. "And two hundred years in the past," I think.

The past, of course, shows through--shines through--everywhere in London.

14 Upper Berkeley Street, Westminster

John's Door
Number 14, Upper Berkeley Street was, Penrith noted, a respectable enough direction, but one or two streets to the north or the east, one would find oneself in a far less savoury quarter. Penrith supposed vaguely that Acklebury must not have the means to secure a more elegant address.

10 Half Moon Street, Westminster
The following day, Mr Acklebury presented himself at number 10, Half Moon Street. It was a large townhouse faced in polished white stone. Two broad, stone steps led up to a columned portico. Mr Acklebury mounted these and knocked at the door.

(Note: Tristan's townhouse, now a fancy hotel, boasts the most decadadent-looking bar in its basement, where the kitchens and service area would have been. Decorated in jewel-toned silk cushions, dark mirrors and black marble and gilt, it struck me as the sort of basement den where a guy like Penrith, had he but lived in the 1960s, would have had illicit and orgy-oriented parties. [personal profile] ravurian and I had a drink there.)

A busy London intersection, where Great Cumberland Street opens into Park Lane
Before his eager steps could take him into Mayfair, John was forced to pause in his walk to allow the passage first of a troop of the King's Guard then of a pair of fine coaches along Great Cumberland Place. As he stood waiting by the side of the busy road, his breath slowing and the cool October air making itself apparent upon his face, a curious sensation came over him. For a moment everything about him seemed to slow, and grow quiet. The thundering of the horses' hooves, the call of the sergeant of the guard, the rumble of the carriages' wheels, the crack of the coachman's whip, all faded from John's hearing, and he stood silent and still, as if in a daze. Someone jostled his shoulder in stepping out into the road, but he scarcely noticed.

I am changed, he thought, and nobody knows it. He could not have found words to describe what he felt, but into his mind came an image in which all of London was receding, flying away from him in every direction with a great rushing of sound and a blur of faded colour, while he stood on this street corner, unmoving and vivid, golden and warm, and as full of sweetness as a pear on an autumn bough, truly alive for the first time in his life. A cord of fire tugged at his heart, and at its other end was Tristan. It did not matter whether Tristan was a mile away in Half Moon Street or a world away; in that long, resonating moment, John thought it would not matter whether Tristan were in this world at all; he would still feel the pull of that cord.

As if coming suddenly back to life, the city crashed into tumult around him again, and John shook his head to clear it. Even before the exhilaration of his vision began to wane, he felt a pang of sorrow, for that new colour, that succulence and round fullness, had been brought into his life by what must remain forever hidden, unspoken, and celebrated only in dark and secret places, and he did not know if he could bear it.

John drew a deep breath of London's insalubrious air, looked carefully about him, and crossed the road.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. | Comment at Dreamwidth.



Latest Month

December 2018


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow