If Ever I Would Leave You, it Would Only Be for London
A good wife doesn’t leave her ailing husband, unless, of course, Ryan Gosling or Ryan Reynolds is asking. But I know London, almost better than New York City, because we once lived there, and over many years I have traversed every “village,” and still can’t navigate Brooklyn.
Traveling alone has its merits. I walked for miles every day, spent as many hours in a museum as I wanted without a care, and read five newspapers a day. It was a time to devour newspapers with the tragedies in Israel and Gaza and the changing of the political guard in Britain (the Tories will be on the outs soon). How many husbands would have spent four hours at the V&A admiring Chanel fashions and costumes in the Diva special exhibit? How many mortals would have tromped through and around Hampstead without getting tetchy? And you couldn’t ask most traveling companions to follow graylag geese through Hyde Park to get one photo. Nor would they be likely to want to walk through the length and breadth of Chelsea and Pimlico in search of the antique shop they first visited in 1983 — which I found!
The pleasures were many, from the Franz Hals exhibit at the National Gallery to the tidied window boxes on every residential street, to the two new small plays I was fortunate to get tickets to see, to the verdant parks and squares, to Apsley House, where the Duke of Wellington moved after defeating Napoleon, to the National Portrait Gallery, which is a history of the country in sculpture, paintings, photographs.
A walk through London’s every neighborhood provides lifetime sustenance. I’m with old friends, including Mozart, who composed his first two symphonies in a house close to Orange Square, and Churchill, who, thankfully, was recalled to life. As Samuel Johnson said, “Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. For there is in London all that life can afford.”