In London last weekend the blue sky and mild weather pulled me out into the city. I was on a quest to find the spores of spring. (By the way, I brushed by Richard Quest, the CNN presenter, in Baker Street on my walk. Richard, if you’re listening, you need to watch your tendency to overtan; it’ll catch up with you, brother.) I knew the spores were out there because I’d seen this freshly, albeit meagerly, planted flowerbed at Canary Wharf.
On my walk, I set out north—on the Tube of course; I’m not crazy—toward the bustling markets of Camden. I hate the word bustling, and I hate markets, so I knew this was going to be a great day.
The high street in Camden is crammed with trendy shops that cater for fourteen-year-olds who spend all their money on the ugliest clothing imaginable. This is not true of course. Most of these fourteen-year-olds just stand around outside these shops and smoke. The sidewalks were so crowded with the carcinogenic haze of teenage attitude that I found it difficult to machete my way through it. But I did.
And if you make it through the crowds and up the street to The Stables Market, you’ll be rewarded with a unique experience: a maze of outdoor and indoor markets selling everything from clothes to furniture. Chain stores aren’t allowed here. We could have stayed at The Stables all day. I even found a stall at the Camden Lock Market that offered gluten-free bread stuffed with delicious Spanish ingredients. Muy bueno. Yes, I'm silly.
“Your quest, Chris. Don’t forget your quest,” a little voice told me.
“What quest? Richard Quest?” I asked the little voice.
“Spring, you idiot. Daffodils? Buds? The tender green of new, hopeful innocence?”
So my little voice sent me in the direction of Primrose Hill, where I took this picture of myself. I have a goofy smile on my face because the sun was tickling me all over. At Primrose Hill, a common very close to the London Zoo, I watched dogs play and poop, poop and play for half an hour before heading to The Regent’s Canal, which cuts through the zoo (which I didn’t want to pay for).
While The Regent’s Canal is a popular walk, I didn’t find spring there.
Even when I rose from the canal path at Regent’s Park and took this picture of what will certainly be my future home, I had to admit that spring was still a wallflower here.
But you wouldn’t believe that from the crowds of Londoners at Regent’s Park. It was as if we were all forcing March to dance. You know, like a mafia thug holding a gun to spring’s feet, saying, “Dance or I’ll blow your bloody feet off!”
On the other side of the park, I spotted two beds of tulips that will look good in three weeks. I didn’t take their photograph, because I know how it is to need a few more weeks at the gym and one more trip to the tanning salon before you can take the perfect photo.
Which brings us back to Richard Quest and his übertan. (I’m sorry, Richard, that I keep coming back to you, but you could have at least given me—yes, a perfect stranger, OK—a friendly smile.) It was in Baker Street on the other side of the park where our lives crossed for that brief moment. Was he the sunny harbinger of spring I’d been searching for? Nah.
I still had one more day in London to hunt down harbingers. Come back tomorrow and find out if my quest was a success. ::said in the scrapy, annoying voice of Richard Quest::
I must be off,
Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), available to sweet people everywhere HERE.