Lost in London
It's not unusual for me to get lost in London. I got lost less than four blocks from home yesterday. I'd just walked to the ATM to get cash for the washer repairman and became distracted by the lovely produce at one of the outdoor veggie markets. I walked a block further than I was supposed to before crossing the street. That was all it took. I had to phone home to get my bearings straight because I have no bearings. My sense of direction is crap.Last Friday I took a bus to Kensington so I could visit the Victoria and Albert museum. It's so fantastic! Well, I went about a dozen blocks out of the way before I found it. By the time I arrived I was ravenous, so I had lunch in the garden, managed to avoid getting drenched when there was a sudden cloudburst, but then poured coffee down the front of my sweater when dashing for cover. This is how it is with me. Years ago, a coworker told me that there were basically two types of people: smooth and fuzzy. Smooth people are the ones who never have a hair out of place, always look impeccable—even in grubby jeans and a t-shirt—and would never pour coffee down the front of themselves. Of course fuzzy people are their opposites. I am a fuzzy person and believe that it’s genetic, passed down through the ages. I was born to be rumpled, coffee-stained, and frequently lost. When I was finally able look at something in the museum, I chose the exhibition British Design 1948-2012, celebrating the best in British design from the postwar years to the present, as Britain counts down to the Olympic games this summer. In 1948, Britain hosted its first Olympic games of the postwar era, quite an accomplishment for a country still deeply feeling the effects of war. Those Olympic games were known as the “Austerity Games.” Justin McGuirk, writing for the Guardian said “The Festival of Britain was the brainchild of a Labour government forging the welfare state; the 2012 Olympics are presided over by a coalition government dismantling what's left of it.” Politics aside, I enjoyed the show. There were some beautiful pieces of jewelry, some wonderful late 40s textiles, and the ubiquitous examples of mid-century furniture and house wares, but nothing that I liked as much as the relics of the anarchic 60s and 70s: photographs of fashion icons Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton by David Bailey, a drool-worthy 1961 Jaguar--an Avengers-style marriage of design and aerodynamics, and my two favorite minis: the Cooper and the Quant. Designer Mary Quant actually named that famous short skirt for her favorite car, the Mini Cooper. Other highlights were dresses by Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen, and Jamie Reid's God Save the Queen poster for the Sex Pistols. Oddly, the 2000s are not particularly well-represented. It's as though the show's curators ran out of steam by the time they got to the current decade. On my way home from Victoria and Albert, I couldn't find bus stop T to catch the 360 back home. I'd neglected to write down its location in my little moleskin notebook. I carry this notebook everywhere. I've been jotting down map directions because I feel less conspicuous peering into a notebook than looking at a map. At the end of day, the pedometer on my phone said I'd walked over 5 miles! Most of that was up and down Cromwell Road, where I was not to find my bus stop no matter how many times I traversed its length. At one point that day, I had texted the husband, who suggested that I take a cab home if it was raining, but I'm stubborn. I took the bus there and I was damn well going to take the bus home, no matter how long it took. When I finally found my stop, I was quite relieved, as it was pouring again and turning cold. I was triumphantly happy, and probably grinning like an idiot, when I was at last seated on that bus, because for me the important thing is not to never get lost, but to be able to eventually find my way home.