Monday, 31 January 2011

Hidden Places

So many times in London you hurry by grand residences with large silent doors - Georgian windows cloaked by secrecy and heavy curtains, and in the velvet dark outside you wonder what life is like for people who live in such places. On Friday night we knew the secret handshake; the ‘open sesame’ to unlock the door. In London speak; this translates to knowing a friend of a friend of a friend.

We were ushered inside to an echoing stairwell where the ghost of 1920s piano music trembled in the air. High ceilings stretched for eternity; stone flag steps were lit with hesitant candles. The mask of elegance slipped and faltered in the flickering shadows – gone were the days of decadent luxury for this building. What was left was a Grimmauld Place – the shabby heart concealed inside a grand facade. We drank champagne, pondered mysteries, and danced a tango as candelabras burnt low. When the hour struck three we scurried out; well-wrapped mice streaming from a once-proud ship. In the few minutes it took to cross the road and duck into a taxi the house had already turned to stone. The party continued behind its doors undetected and invisible; in London the party always continues somewhere.

It was a bit of an odd night, but fun and unexpected. Cities steeped in history and intrigue are made for such nights, I think.

By contrast, Sunday was spent enclosed in a women-only retreat hidden behind the bustle of Covent Garden. You enter via a shop, shed your clothes, don a robe, and wander around determined to relax. One therapy room was across a bridge over a koi carp pond and up some stairs, and there was a slight Logan’s Run feel as we ascended. I checked my hand for a red flashing life-clock, but all was well.

We relaxed, swam, gossiped, and let our worries dissipate like the steam that rose from the spa pool. Time sped up, slowed down, extended, decreased. We were in a little time warp, and if Doctor Who had stepped from behind a pillar and said we were in fact part of the woman-only world of Zog then I wouldn’t have been at all surprised.

Sometimes you live in the city; sometimes it lives in you. But either way, and even better, moments like this create stories!

27 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Sign me up! Sounds great.

Old Kitty said...

What on god's green earth were you up to this weekend!?!? WOW!! What a brilliantly decadent and other-worldly weekend!!!! Me I was tucked away somewhere in Oxford Street trying to dodge packs of tourists!!! Wow!!!!!

I always wanted to be Farrah Fawcett in Logan's Run!

Take care
x

wannabe a writer said...

How I envy your weekend - I was hoovering, cleaning and cooking and trying to help the kids with their homework. Same as every weekend in fact. Wanna swap?

Angela Felsted said...

I'm glad you had a relaxing Sunday.

Out on the prairie said...

Sounds delightful, I haven't done a adult retreat for years.I took kids on a few but my part wasn't as relaxing always.Where i live the old homes are apartments now. The big ones are in the country, down a lane so they aren't seen very well.my last retreat we brainstormed all night on building our lives, we barely slept.

Heather Hellmann said...

I want to go there too!

Angelina Rain said...

Sounds like you had a great weekend. I would so love to go to a place like that.

Kathy said...

This post is awesome! I love it!!

Sophia Richardson said...

And now my outrageous plans to get the train to London and possibly go shopping in Oxford St and find some great deals on Paperblanks notebooks (please please please) seems a lot less exciting.
- Sophia.

Wendy Ramer said...

Haven't been in London since 1992, and you just made me want to go back...NOW.

Tess said...

you have a beautiful way with words and the image you paint here is lovely.

Indigo said...

*Smiles* I love it when you take me to these decadent mysterious places. Never been to London, but alas seeing it through your eyes is an elixir in words. (Hugs)Indigo

Charli Mac said...

To quote Tina Fey, as Liz Lemon, "I want to go to there."

Your words rested on my tongue like butter. Yum.

In the States there are some places that were once speakeasies and have that feel to it. Love it when those places find you.

Margo Benson said...

Delicious descriptions! I once lived in EC1 near Farringdon Road - super creepy, much like Grimauld Place. Great post.

jbchicoine said...

I love the incongruity of all that...

The Golden Eagle said...

It sounds like you had a great time. :)

Ann said...

And beautifully written stories they are... "well-wrapped mice streaming from a once-proud ship"... now THAT is why I read your blog! Or one of the reasons... A x

Pat Tillett said...

That was so good and so well written. Sounds like heaven!

Ann said...

What a wonderful weekend you have had. I loved your descriptive depiction of it. I could nearly imagine myself there.

Eliza said...

Sounds very interesting, where were you, we need details :-)

The Words Crafter said...

The next time I get sick, I'm coming to see you! Logan's Run, The Doctor, swimming, mysterious buildings....and you depicted them so vividly.

I don't know which I envy more, your weekend, or your writing of it, bravo!

Kittie Howard said...

Ohhhh what fun...you got to experience what's behind the facade. What stories you now have!

Arlee Bird said...

Los Angeles being a newer place by comparison to a city like London doesn't have the same type of grandeur. Still I pass by the houses in my own newer neighborhood and wonder what is behind those doors. Most of my neighbors are an enigma to me.

Glad you signed up for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Lee
Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

Maria Zannini said...

umm...I'll have what she's having.

--especially the massage. :)

Happy Frog and I said...

Sounds good to me, I think I've been there! I could do with a bit of indulgence right about now. :-)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

London percolates with stories.
Thanks for sharing yours!!
I'll be in London soon, and cannot wait!

Laura Marcella said...

You had a quite a weekend! I love the images you created with such descriptive details. I want a weekend like this!