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Life in the big smoke

Feeding the fire

It’s been a bit quiet on the blog over the last few weeks. I’ve gone through an introspective period, when it’s felt more important to look inside, to read and to feel, rather than to broadcast. Sometimes it’s important to feed the fire.

I find it easy to get wrapped up in doing and will only pat myself on the back if I’ve been active and producing work. I forget how important those quiet in-between periods of soaking up new knowledge can be.

Last weekend I took a bus to central London (a place I normally avoid) and walked to the National Gallery. I chose the rooms at random and walked up to pictures that spoke to me. After about an hour the noise of the people, tourists and families, started to get tiring so I went to the cafe and read for a bit.

Later in the day I walked to one of my favourite places in London, Foyles Bookstore on Charing Cross Road. I spent most of the afternoon browsing, stopping at the fiction section and moving on to philosophy and psychology, picking up books that seemed interesting.

Bookshops are magical places. The smell of paper soothes me. I wonder if being surrounded by so many words somehow acts as an insulation to everyday life. Instead of spending all that time in my head, I pick up a book, I read someone else’s thoughts and it stops my mind for a moment. It’s meditative. I move on to the next book and get a flavour of someone else’s thoughts and feelings.

In my more new age-y moments I wonder if the books and the paper also insulate me from the stress of London. They act as a dampener, shutting out the noise, pollution, the electromagnetic signals, the stress and the adrenaline pumped people on the streets. I escape into bookshops and libraries every now and then. And right now I hunger for the fuel they offer me. It will be autumn soon. Perhaps this is nothing more than a hang-over from my school days, it’s the time of the year when I need and crave new knowledge.

Image by Joshua Earle.

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