I must confess I've so maligned my home city recently (yes, the small one) that I feel I must mention some of its good parts. Actually I've very much enjoyed living in Edinburgh for the past 2-3 months. The sky is bluer, the light crisper, and the air more fresh. The skyline is more open. Seeing the sharp grey stone features at the top of buildings makes me imagine that they are the product of handsome, weatherbeaten faces with black curly hair, whereas the rounded brick buildings and street-level railings of London evoke only the image of pot-bellied pink middle class. But London, although it's hectic, crowded, and grubby at places, fills me with a sense of calm - because I know that the city's fun-creating machinery is very capable and in good working order, and I don't have to worry about extracting as much fun as possible from every small opportunity that the day presents. I really like big cities...
So, I went shopping and bought some overpriced cosmetics (yes), some boring clothes that I could have bought anywhere if I could organize anything that doesn't have a web interface, and some stuff from MUJI, sensibly since I'm now going to Japan. I ended up in Monmouth Street by chance and spent a few minutes trying to remember what noteworthy thing was there, and then I found it, Coco De Mer, one of the world's handful of sexy sex shops. I bought the book "Baby oil and ice", which I guess is not at all surprising. We went to Camden, which I decided is really a Disney attraction, and couldn't think of anything to actually buy in the cavernous Cyberdog shop, although it was bleepy and pleasant and very cavernous. I hate shopping as a tourist, though. I need to stay here longer.
I met a 50-something painter whom I tried to convince, unsuccessfully, that an ambassador should not promote, say, painting or sculpture from their country because these art forms don't really need to be presented in a cultural context in the way that, say, poetry does. I also met a woman called Maria whom I embarrassingly thought might be the artist's teenage daughter but tured out to be in her late 20's and not related at all. And then I met a second Maria (the point behind this boring introduction) who was extremely attractive, massively intelligent, tiny, short-haired, with a compelling presence, late 30's, a perfectionist, full of anxiety about life and society, a political scientist by training, and, apparently, in a mongamous relationship. Grrr! Those who know Anastasia may spot certain similarities :-)