On my first day of waking up in the city, I took the morning and afternoon a bit easy, finishing some reading for the conference for which I've traveled here, drinking all the caffeinated beverages that came with my room (woefully few!), probably perplexing the housekeepers by not removing the "Buzz Off -- I'm sleeping!" sign from my doorknob until 4:30. I also took it upon myself to modify my room, whose windows bear this sign. The first thing I noticed yesterday upon opening my room door was how stuffy it was in here--no doubt at least partly because my window opens on an interior court full of other stuffy hotel rooms' windows (see above for my upward-looking view--since this is actually very London, I like it just as much as I would if I were looking at almost anything else I could be looking at in this city, save the river or, say, St. Paul's). Whereas the view is okay with me, the stuffiness is not, and there's no air-conditioning to make it any better. Running a fan all night did the trick for sleeping, but opening the window seemed like an even better program(me). And so, having cast about my room for anything that I could use to keep the window from crashing back down the six inches or so that I can raise it, I finally fashioned an appropriate prop from the toiletries block in the bathroom, and all was well and breezy.
But the real pleasures came after I left the hotel at 5:30 and headed to London wonders. First, Foyles bookshop, of which I only became enamoured last summer, when I was making periodic trips down from Cambridge to work at the British Library and/or to see films at the National Film Theatre or theatre at the National. The main Foyles is on Charing Cross Road, just down from the Tottenham Court Road tube station, and it's worth a visit if you're a lover of books. I gave myself permission to buy a small group of books, whatever they were, even if they were new and not on sale, because almost nothing gives me the pleasure that buying books does. And the permission worked; I walked out of there 45 minutes later grinning like a small child--in fact, much the way I did when I was a small child and was allowed to buy a group of books at a bookshop.
And from Foyles, it was off to a part of London I've never visited--Wigmore Street, just north of Oxford Street and just south of Marylebone. Wigmore Street is home to Wigmore Hall, a chamber music venue built in the early twentieth century, where I heard the Sitkovetsky Trio (to whose cellist I would like to profess some kind of mad love). And it is home to Comptoir Libanais, the Lebanese café I would suggest you patronize before you attend a function at Wigmore Hall.
Yesterday, my young friend asked me, as we crossed the road, whether I would ever want to live in London. My answer yesterday was that it's hard to imagine the circumstances that would allow me to do so; it's expensive here, far more expensive than I can even dream of affording right now. But my answer tonight would have been yes, oh yes. I still can't imagine the circumstances. But I can imagine the life.