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Sunday, July 15, 2007


Down at the farmer's market the other day, at the wonderful Moroccan foodstall, Granny was served by a man who was clearly not Moroccan. He looked Chinese - no, more complicated than that. His face was thin, fine, porcelain coloured, he had a little close drooping moustache, he looked more like a Tartar, say; or maybe, rather, he looked like one of Genghis Khan's warriors. Except for this: on his head he wore one of those high, all controlling hats that Rastas wear to hold their huge nests of dreadlocks; the Genghis Khan warrior's hat bulged as if his hair was in uncut dreadlocks too. A certain cultural confusion there, it seemed to Granny; but this is London after all.

Very shortly after she found herself talking to an unmistakable Englishman in a raincoat who'd come to check on a broken door to one of her balconies. And who turned out to be married to an Iranian woman, met in London, and to adore life in Iran, You can go into shops, he said, to buy, and come out with bags full of stuff, not having spent a penny, it's all been given to you. While out in the country he'd met herdsmen miles from anywhere and sat down on the grass with them to drink tea. That was the best experience of whole my life, he said, it was really. (Bush should have heard him; oh yes we all know about the mad revolutionary guards, mad mullahs, and the madder president whose name Granny cannot get her tongue round let alone her keyboard: but there's much more sense in Iran than that. Let the place alone and it will all come out. If only...)

And now it's Sunday afternoon and it's the weather in a state of cultural confusion, and a good deal else besides. Granny is blasted by racket from the Irish pub on the corner. Celtic supporters are in town for a friendly with QPR just up the road. They are all wearing brutally-striped green and white shirts just like the players, right down to the Carling label in the middle. They are well-oiled by the sound of it and making a lot of noise; at times they burst into the worse kind of sentimentalised Irish folk song. Granny doesn't know how the match went; it must have been affected by the culturally confused weather that dumped a mighty thunderstorm right on the top of it. After which the sun came out - and the insects and the screaming swifts to add to the racket, And now it looks as if there's about to be another storm. She wonders if it will drive the revellers back inside the pub and ease the noise a little. Wishful thinking probably. How can a not so enormous group of men make such a DIN? Oh god, they're singing again now. Come, thunder, please come.

Still she's had a good weekend. Family and friends all out of town, her two flatmates off with their respective squeezes, she's had the flat to herself since Saturday morning. She's written a lot, had her hair cut, been to a weird opera about twins, which she can't recommend because it's finishing, and the weird exhibition of Anthony Gormley at the Hayward Gallery which she can recommend because it goes on until late August. Fancy metal men on rooftops looking out wherever you look? You will find them. Oh and aside from him, along the South Bank, outside the Festival Hall there are two extraordinary fountains created by a Danish artist. One of them you can get right inside and end up dry still - more or less. Bring children. Hurry. For them it is total bliss to judge by the faces of the ones there. N0t bad for adults either.

London in summer can be pretty nice. Really. Ask an at-the-moment, happy Granny, about to feed herself on goodies from the middle Eastern supermarket up the road; fancy a honey mango anyone, or home-made baba ganoush, or a huge bunch of rocket in a salad with tomatoes? Yes. Really.


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