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Posts Tagged ‘william boyd’

Today I am 24 years old. I will never be 23 again, ever. I will never be the age I am while writing this, ever. I am already older than when this entry began. That’s a thought I’ve tended not to preoccupy myself with, but as I inch toward completing a quarter of a century, it seems that the value of time becomes increasingly more important, especially as it seems to be speeding up as well!

I will never be as old as I was this morning when I wore my favourite tights – the ones with the most colourful pattern of flowers you’ll ever see – and stepped out into the crisp morning, enjoying the sun on my face and the breeze through my hair as I took a walk through Shepherds Bush and Notting Hill to my morning meeting.

As I walked through Shepherds Bush Green a man walking towards me turned his head away very suddenly and only returned to normal as he passed my line of sight. A strange occurrence; as I could see there was nothing in particular that would have distracted him so suddenly and for such a prolonged time. Then it struck me that perhaps his ridiculous head movement was simply to avoid meeting my eye, which made me sad. Isn’t it very sad that this man was afraid of meeting my eye? What’s the worst that could happen? A smile?

Thus the first of my birthday vows was born: this year I will endeavour to meet everyone’s eye, to smile and stare life full on in the face, to make sure I don’t miss a single connection. I will try never to avoid someone’s gaze unless there’s good reason for it (i.e. they’ve been stalking me for several blocks and don’t need any more encouragement), and especially not if it comes from a lack of confidence in myself or a feeling of pity or guilt towards the other person.

After another 20 minutes of the London tube and slow meandering through the sunny streets of Notting Hill Gate, I breakfasted at Charlie’s Cafe with a friend, Rima, and enjoyed a perfectly cooked breakfast butty of bacon, cumberland sausage and egg with an earl grey tea – perfect. We sat by the window looking out onto the most beautiful pink flowers in bloom in the cute little courtyard outside the cafe, and this is when the second birthday vow was born – to start learning the names of plants and flowers. It’s such a shame not to know because it’s rather bland to have to reduce specific species to their colour. Nevertheless, the pink flowers and the wonderfully simple ambience of the place convinced me that it wouldn’t be long before I returned. The staff were particularly friendly and sang me ‘happy birthday’ as we exited, having overheard Rima wishing me many happy returns upon arrival.

I then walked through Portobello and took the tube to work for a brief visit before heading to lunch at another wonderful discovery, St Clements Cafe, with my dear friend, Pets. St Clements is on Middle Temple Lane and is a scrumptious place which looks out onto a pristine lawn which, as Pets mentioned, would be the kind to play croquet on! Customers at St Clements can get picnic blankets from the bar and take lunch outside when the sun shines, so we’ve promised ourselves to go back and do just that. We had a terrific roast chicken and couscous main and shared a brownie and pistachio meringue, topped off with a lovely glass of wine. Divine!

From Temple I made my way home to Hammersmith, reading and dozing on the train. I’ve almost come to the end of a truly wonderful book, Any Human Heart, by William Boyd. It’s a fictional diary of Logan Mountstuart whose life spanned the 20th Century and was, as the blurb says, a ‘life lived to the full’. An Oxford contemporary with the likes of Evelyn Waugh and Virginia Woolf; a published writer and new york art dealer in the 70’s; a spy in the second world war and a newspaper-seller in his old age for an underground cell fighting fascism ‘in all it’s forms’, Mountstuart’s life is a testament to living spontaneously by the heart’s desires. It’s profoundly inspired me.

After an afternoon of music rehearsals for the Davoud Azad concert I’m taking part in, my parents joined me on a short stroll round the corner to dine at the third and final culinary adventure of the day, Chez Kristof. Having read rave reviews about the place (and some not-so-rave ones too), I thought it time to see for myself what this neighbourhood joint had to offer. Though I wasn’t overwhelmed, I was pleased with the food and had a lovely time. My pimms aperitif was satisfying and the duck confit I had was deliciously tender, literally peeling off the bone. The lighting was a little too dim for my liking and the music was a little erratic, but that added a certain charm to the evening in it’s own special way.

So it seems like this birthday has been one of trying out new eateries, and so I shall make the third birthday vow to continue the explorations; I’ll continue to seek out the perfect hang out and share my favourites with my favourite people.

The fourth is, as always, to write more. To write something every day (and to do lists don’t count), even if it’s 100 words before I collapse into bed.

And so, bonjour 24! Here I go…

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