online: 30 july 2004
modified: 29 july 2004

27 july 2004 the city

19:05: Parliament Hill. Just sitting, little energy to walk today, but enough to write.

No wind whatever, a grey haze to the east. The city seems stationary, as if empty. A single flickering light in the middle distance. Weak sunlight behind us, slanting beams through grey cloud. The grass is yellow now, tinged with purple, and the trees look yellow-green in the evening sunlight. People sit and speak quietly or do not speak at all. A dog stirs and its owner stirs also - to throw a red ball which it fetches, and then they both sit, as if thinking. I pick up a piece of burnt newspaper on the ground beside me - it is from a paper that consists only of advertisements for houses.

I decide to get up and walk.

I heard on the radio his morning that King George V (who had been in the navy in his youth) was tattooed on his arms. And when they faded Queen Mary arranged for them to be redone.

A young man, who stands aside for me to pass on a plank bridge, tells me that he lives just at the edge of the heath and that he can't believe his luck to be able to walk here every day. 'We're extraordinarily lucky' he says.

Walking a chance determined route, I go along a path I'd not have chosen. I pass a young man with five huskies. He tells me they are the same kind that are used to pull sledges in the Arctic and that every few weeks he takes them to Scotland for sledge racing. Apparently it's a new sport. 'It's a job for a lifetime' he says, as I move on.

Panorama path. People being athletic on the sports fields below, between Parliament Hill and the city. About 50 of them have just run a not very competitive 100 metres and others arrive back, looking hot but pleased, after running round the heath. How civilised this seems when I imagine life in the many wars, and refugee camps, and other places where human life is much rougher.

Yes I like this city, the immense variety of the people, their relative peacefulness, it's huge extent, it's long history, and now this moment - including these profound or absurd elements through which we know it and which we are. As is life itself, greater than we know, greater than knowledge, greater than syntax. Yet coherent.

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