If you take the Tube down south past the river, changing onto the overland line and taking a bit of a small walk, you’ll end up in a district known as Brockley. I’d never been to this part of the city, and admittedly had to let the Citymapper app guide me like Dorothy down the Yellow Brick Road — just, you know, without any singing.
Further into the town you can detour just off to the left and you’ll end up at the foot of a great green hill. Well, it’s green right now. How that works during the rest of the seasons, I can’t say for certain. But right now: greener than my pack of Orbit spearmint gum. I climb slowly, because I’m not alone: I’m out with one of my favourite people in the world, the only person I really know in London. For the first time it’s not just me on my own, mind wandering about to think on the idea of tempus fugit and whatever else it chooses.
At least, until I reach the top, and turn northward to face the city skyline. There is haze obscuring what could be a perfect miniature of London, the easily-defined lines of buildings softened. I feel I am looking through frosted glass, the barrier of haze the only thing keeping me from reaching out a hand to touch the city. It’s a sight like I’ve never seen, and one that I don’t think can be replicated, seeing a city skyline from a such a view — knowing that such a place is real. That it’s right there. That I’m actually standing here, on a patch of green, looking out at what I can only call my favourite city in the world.
I have no thoughts. My mind is blank, awash in the sight that I feel privileged to see. This is the city of pure imagination: you think it can’t be real, that someone has pulled it from the effervescent world of a mind’s fantasy, but then there — right there…it stands, close enough to touch and far enough to still seem the stuff of dreams.