Britain's Oldest Door (but how do they know?)
Westminster Abbey
Loving a place is like loving a person. It does not altereth when it alteration findeth.

I first started going to London 30+ years ago, flying over the Irish Sea from Trinity College in Dublin for fabulously fun weekends. It was still a fairly homogenous place. Upper-class men wore bowler hats and carried sharp black umbrellas. Their women wore perfectly tailored wool suits, bought at Harrods or Selfridges. Afternoon tea was ubiquitous. The rest of the food was awful. Buildings were a grimy black. When I washed my hair, the water ran black, too, from the pollution. Life there felt cozy and contained by the hierarchies of the past. Comfy.

Today, the city is world-class wide open and multinational and, after my second trip there in a year, I love it even more than I did then.

There's a different vibe, a relaxed energy at play, if that makes sense, that's totally in and of the present. The Brits are a busy people and right now they're busy building, building. Everywhere you look, there are cranes jutting into the London sky

and fresh, new words to live by.

Some things, however, remain forever England. Like adorable posies

or fragments of the wall that encircled the ancient (47 AD!) Roman city of Londinium

or the the big red buses zooming down the tight, winding streets like this one, across from Waterloo station

or the music of Handel, Mozart, and Corelli, shimmering around the church of St. Martin in the Fields.

Here's the view out the upstairs window of the 1810 house where I stayed in Southwark

south of the Thames, in a neighborhood far, far away in space and time and 21st-century socio-economic diversity from my old hangouts on the very other side of the river.
Back of the house, from the garden
Best of all? Better than seeing The Tempest, eating at Roast (next blog post), drinking coffee at the Towpath Cafe, being at opening night at the tiny Finborough Theater?

Being with Old Best Friends and New Best Friends (and one terrific cousin). Here are me and Oline Eaton, a fellow biographer pal from Chicago who's living in London, working on a book about the Jackie-Onassis marriage. We're in front of the Museum of London, after lunch at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.

I hadn't been to that Fleet Street landmark (1660s AD!) in those 30+ years. It was exactly the same. Life does come around full circle sometimes.

Instant Gratification: Fun book about shopping and Harry Gordon Selfridge, American founder of the store

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