London Reverse Diaries VI - Day 1

Day 1 – Sunday 14th of July 2013

Getting out of the Eurostar, and King’s Cross St-Pancras station, directly on Euston Road for a five minutes walk toward the Hilton Euston Hotel near the crossroad with Upper Woburn Place. Remarkable copy of Athens Acropolis Caryatids at St-Pancras Parish Church of England, build 200 years ago on the Greek revival style. It is remarkable and odd, thanks to the architectural mix of the neighbourhood. And the more I think about this area the more I find it astounding: just think about it. 

Let’s assume it’s your first time in London and you come either from Paris or Brussels with the high-speed train. Let’s also assume you won’t rush to catch one of the four tube lines which deeply underground intersect at the metro station, you’ll take time to walk out, discover the city at the speed of your feet, the proper way to discover anything, looking up and down and straight, and left and right, turning your head at every angle, getting a sense of 360° vision, capturing all sounds of people walking, talking, on the phone, the noises of the red imperial buses, the cabs, the cars, the motorbikes, the bicycles, the planes above. All the movement, everything which makes a city never sleep, always on the move, people rushing to catch a train, to catch a tube, to catch a cab, to catch a moving target that will bring them closer to a business meeting, closer to a lunch in a trendy restaurant, closer to a pint of beer at the new pub to be seen after hours with colleagues in the City, in Pall Mall, in Westminster, in Canary Wharf, in Kensington, in Bermondsey, in Bloomsbury, closer to a lover, to a mistress, to a wife, to a daughter, to a mother waiting your arrival because she must get some blood analysis at the Hospital done quickly, not one of the NHS, no, no, all her friends told your mother she must go to a seriously expensive and private and upscale clinic with good doctors, skilled doctors, not smiling doctors, just skilled, university teachers, well-trained physicians, surgeons, nurses, psychiatrists, endocrinologists, oncologists, yes, my god, might it be your mother needs chemotherapy, might it be yourself will need surgery, or anti-depressants because you’ve just been diagnosed as half of people living in London being afflicted by a more or less mild, more or less severe form of bipolar disorder, might it be you’re on a collision course on those busy streets with your lawyer, your accountant, your human resource officer, your IT supplier from Bangalore or Warsaw, because you’re a CEO, a CIO, a COO, a CFO, a CTO, a Catastrophic Executive Moronic selfish guy who thinks everything is owed to him, that he or she, takes precedence in the pecking order of humanity to be saved from disaster, the very precise disaster you’re working yourself ?

Could it be that for all those reasons, wandering in the streets, at the ground zero level of a city’s theatre, all-around the clock immersed in a near-poetic performance, with slam, spoken words, cantos, soul’s expansions, in many languages, in many accents, with multiple voices, is an mind-blowing experience not to be missed? Would you miss that? Never! Never!

It reminds me of Robert Silverberg’s, ‘Dying Inside’ (1972) - in French: “L’oreille interne” sci-fi novel, where the main character, David Selig, is afflicted by a gift and a curse, he is a telepath, he hears all inner thoughts of people passing near him, without being able to filter them, to control them, and for him, walking in busy streets is a traumatic experience.

On the trail, looking for Virginia Woolf evidence in her native neighbourhood of Bloomsbury: a small statue erected in a corner of Tavistock Square, where groups of people discuss, there is another more impressive, central statue of the Mahatma Gandhi. Then, there is this ugly Tavistock Hotel built on the location of her former house which was destroyed during the Blitz, with a historical leaflet at the reception desk provided by the Virginia Woolf Society, not much evidence left from her presence, to be honest.

Back at the Hilton London Euston, I am preparing mentally to cope with the stressful coming week, with a quote from the book I'm studying, speaking on organization changes:

"In our view restructuring should be the last option considered by management rather than the first. It is often a method for not addressing the organizational issues that it seeks to resolve."

Esther Cameron & Mike Green, Making Sense of Change Management 3rd edition, Kogan Page 2012, p. 262.

I've seen it so many times that it defies common sense. And the human price to pay is heavy. It is one of the mad causes for burn out (making a case for further inquiry).

Arrival... a bit of disorientation... left ... right... look inverted...
Tavistock Square - Virginia Woolf
British Library - first visit, catalog of the exhibition and a  few poetry books


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