23 December 2001 Sunday morning

10:40 Already on the train this sunny morning after unpleasant dreams of being allocated someone else's room (at some kind of conference?) - then visiting some canal boats accessible through a tunnel - and then being taken to a dreadful outbuilding of a farm with a damp stone floor and no space for my books... when I awoke from this in near darkness my own room seemed to be also an awful place - I had to get up and look out at the street outside to assure myself that I was indeed in my pleasant London flat and not in some prison-like hovel... but perhaps it is one, I thought to myself, and I've become too used to it to notice...?

I felt uneasy but slept again until I woke to find the sun shining on my face and the weather forecaster saying it won't last beyond the morning. So I did a little yoga then dashed for the train leaving half my breakfast uneaten.

11:44: On a seat overlooking Kenwood ponds in bright sunshine and little wind. No clouds, pale blue sky, dry air - and there is a feint blueish mist over the ponds in the dark shadows cast by tall trees beyond the water (which looks black in this light). That's why I stopped - to note the beauty of the branches of nearby trees glinting against the dark blue mist beneath the dazzling brightness of the low winter sun. Etc. ('Etc.' indicates the whole scene - too much and too marvellous to describe.)

An eighteenth century composed landscape persists here - unmarked by the social horrors of the slave-trading and mechanical industry which may have accompanied and financed it... Would it be wise (or just spiteful?) to exhibit, in such contrived beauty spots, the poverty, slavery and exploitations that made them possible?... No, no.

'I say garARGE ' says a small and lively boy who walks past. But 'I say GARRidge' says the man he is talking with, probably his father.

Many of the visitors here this sunday morning look to me to be prosperous working-class people who are in the process of adopting middle-class clothes, leisure-habits and pronunciations. The slavery is gone and with it a world of working-class liveliness, despite oppression. But this more prosperous world is also lively - though it may be too new, yet, to seem beautiful.

My fingers are freezing so I get up and go.

12:47 Station. I bought a big bag of fruit and vegetables from the street trader outside.

I feel exceptionally well in this dry frosty air and with the crunch of half-frozen ground underfoot. Aches and stiffnesses (after falling as I tried to jump onto a moving bus platform two days ago) are forgotten. On the frozen mud I can choose any path - or leave the paths altogether, as on a dry summer day. I sometimes think I am not made for fenced paths but for the desert - as well as for the forest and the sea shore. Just now, out of the wind and with the sun gently warming my cheek and my hand, I feel at ease in the world and happy to be here awaiting a train and writing this and thinking life is perfect as it is (when body state is in accord with conditions - is that it?)... and now the train arrives...

...inside the train, propelled and warmed by electricity, I am happy to look yet again at these very familiar views across the rooftops of London. The colours and the forms and skies look new each time I travel this almost daily journey - not a journey to work but to its antidote...

The train accellerates with a slight jerk as the power supply changes from overhead wire to third rail...

And already it's at my station and I get out and walk home with the big bag of things to eat during the christmas holiday - though for me it is an opportunity to do some writing while others enjoy or endure the festivity, or celebrate the nativity (or work in service industry).

As I walked over the footbridge I saw a man with a carton of hot tea walking across the railway track and stepping without evident fear or care over the electrified third rails as he came to them. He is not like the rest of us.

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