This is a Cul-de-Sac

I lived in London for years. I shared a house just off the Kings’ Road, another near Brick Lane, one in Greenwich, and there was the family home further south, in the suburbs. This place, though, and I’m sitting in the garden now, looking up at the sun on the back of the house, on all that old Victorian brick, this place is the one where I’ve been happiest.
        That strikes me as odd as I can’t stand the town I live in (it calls itself a city, of course). Some of the noises I could leave – but not the birds. Not the sound of the students on the playing fields, and I like the traffic when it’s like this, generally distant without being a hum, the odd car sounding as if it’s lurching towards me as it comes off the main road, and the train a decipherable clatter. Motor cycles in the night, and you can always hear a breeze blowing the leaves, or the branches in the middle of winter.
        This is a cul-de-sac, not a dead end. It’s a kind of suburban imagination thing I have which seems to translate well to foreign cities without allowing me to become cosmopolitan. I can’t be urban, can I? I like open spaces too much. Maybe I’d be one of those people who climbs to the top of cranes if I was sixteen again. Maybe it’s a particular kind of city state of mind, wanting to be out of it while staying very much in it.
        Today the air smells of the sea although it’s travelled several miles inland. The sky’s blue but dazzled around the edges. I wonder, in the couple of hours before it grows dark, what’ll come to me.

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