This is not a post, not in the usual way of my posts here on Naked Authors - but I am here in the Virgin America Clubhouse at Heathrow Airport, waiting for my flight back to the USA. Been here a couple of weeks to see my Mum, and return to a crazy couple of months because I have a serious deadline looming. I managed to hit just about everything on my to-do list - there's always a to-do list - and really, I wish I were going on vacation RIGHT NOW! I cannot remember when I last had a vacation.
So, before you think I have won the lottery, being in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse and all that, let me just say that some years ago I decided I would not use my accrued Virgin miles to get a free flight, because I could never get the date I wanted from the airport I wanted, so instead, it's easy - I use those miles to upgrade. Can't always do it, but if I book far enough in advance, it works just fine - and believe me, on a 11-hour flight from Heathrow to San Francisco, that cushy seat in Upper Class makes me feel less like Quasimodo running from the bells when I get off the darn 'plane, jet-lagged and less than gruntled. I just hate that term, "Upper Class" though, because, really, I hate elitism. But what can you do? I think I'll just have another glass of bubbly while I work that one out.
Whatever anyone thinks of London - I usually spend a few days in the nation's capital on these trips home, though most of my time is spent in rural Sussex - London is by far and away the country's economic powerhouse, with investment coming in from across the globe. And it shows. Culturally, it's hopping, more than anything I ever experienced even twenty years ago. Walk down the street and you hear every language under the sun spoken, and the restaurants are amazing (I know - London has finally moved away from the stigma of food overcooked in lots of water to make the best of wartime rationing). And here's the interesting thing - there's money about. People - ordinary people, not skillionaires, although I am sure there are a goodly number of them on the street - are dropping a lot on eating out, on clothing, cars, and, well, the things people with disposable income buy. Perhaps it's all on credit, who knows?
A friend I had dinner with last Sunday - he works as a consultant to large corporations on developing customer service strategies - told me that Britain is basically being kept afloat by two things; London's golden economy and Scottish oil. Two ends of a country keeping up the middle. Perhaps that's true anywhere you go in the world - I'll have to think about it, and not being an economist, I can't comment. But I do know this. Walk around London and you are always aware of its history. On Tuesday morning I meandered alongside the Thames as it swept past Chelsea, and there it was, a working waterway since before the Middle Ages. There were the water taxis, the lighters tied to a pontoon in the center. The tide was out, and as I looked down at the mud and scanned for treasure, I imagined the mudlarks of Victorian times - another booming age - who would search high and low for anything of value fallen from a ship coming into the docks, or from the pockets of sailors having had too much to drink. My mind skipped a century, and I could imagine the searchlights at night, as bombers came during Hitler's Blitzkrieg to hammer those same dock - and along with it the lives of so many east-enders. And I looked at former warehouses, now upscale apartment buildings. London, like New York, like Boston, Paris, Berlin, Shanghai or Madrid - is an old city with its ancient bones showing. But there's something these cities know that the younger inhabitants don't know yet, those star-struck whizz kids, and I guess many of us have been there. It's that every dog has its day. What goes up, must come down. And every booming economy floats on an underbelly, which, in my humble experience of life, is most raw when the gold on top is shining brightest.
(I have an original of that poster, by the way)
So, that's it from me. My flight will be called soon, and I might just have that glass of champagne now. While I can. The air miles are running out!!!
What are you up to this weekend?
Turns out I wrote a post after all ....