I would have to say that the night of the reversing-uphill car crash has set in motion forces that are most unpleasant and, more or less, out of control. To illustrate this as I write, my computer keeps closing this document and opening what looks like an Apple programmer’s menu of options. Meanwhile, my options seem to be running out at nights. At least sleep is no longer among them. I keep staying awake worrying that…and do not look for logic here…I cannot get out of bed. Note that this once happened years ago, hasn’t recurred since and shows no signs of reappearance. Never mind. A certain level of fear has just taken over. To put a finer point on things, a fear of traveling alone, vis-à-vis sleeping on my own in the Paddington Hilton.
By any objective standard last night was different from all other nights. No, it wasn’t Passover. It was my cousin and her husband sleeping in the adjoining hotel room. Help was hardly far away. If I needed it, which of course, I didn’t. Nor could I realistically describe any situation that might require help. Falling out of bed? Not falling out of bed? Another Great Fire of London? No, just being scared. And scared of what? More or less, not being able to get my foot off the accelerator. But speaking metaphorically. Loss of control. As I say, fear had taken over.
So what happened last night? Well, after some delay, I slept. And I dreamed. There was an abandoned train in some jungle. Homeless people were living in the train. With toilets being in short supply, everyone was advised to go in the jungle, some distance away from the train. Perfectly sensible. And that’s the dream. Sleeping rough and slightly feral, life’s conveyance…all heavy metal and inevitability…having come to a dead stop on the rails. But not, one notes, going off the rails. Just sitting in the jungle. Waiting.
Of course this wasn’t entirely generated by my subconscious. I had seen recent photos of Syrian refugees sleeping in an abandoned train in Greece. Either way, it’s a nightmare. Or from another perspective, fear casts us into a primitive survival mode. When fear takes over, survival takes over. Life becomes a grind.
Which is most unfortunate when one is in the world’s greatest city. This is a time and a place to have fun. But, no, it turns out that this is a time and a place to have life. As it is. And these few days in London have focused on visiting family and friends…and dealing with fear. Jane is having a very different experience on the island of Iona, west of Mull in the Hebrides. I regret that I couldn’t share what looks like a wonderfully bracing rural, maritime Scottish experience. But one can’t do everything. I needed to do London all on my neurotic own. Scotland I can do tomorrow. It’s not exactly rural in Edinburgh. But there is a train. It covers the 400 miles between London and the Scottish capital in four hours and twenty minutes. Pretty cool, I say. And we won’t be parked in any jungles.
Incredibly, it promises to be warmer there. One doesn’t notice that it’s actually 53°F in London on this particular June day…until the wind blows. And suddenly it’s winter in San Francisco. Yes, Edinburgh is actually warmer.