Gene Kelly may have danced; I just sat but with equal pleasure no doubt.
The place has gone Covid mad but the Club of my youth was always one to chain its members with a bewildering set of rules.
Man was born free, said Rouseau, but everywhere he is in chains.
Never were his words more appropriate and I find myself sitting under a canopy in the pouring rain wondering just where it all went wrong.
We forge our own chains, we make our own prison. In our minds and in our damaged world.
I am privileged in truth to sit in this beautiful, if rule bound, haven in Central London but I long, increasingly, for all manner of freedoms.
Perhaps freedom can be found in the depths of our mind but I feel, ever more urgently, a need for a different place. And to some extent I have found it. Yet always hanker for more.
Greater distance from my fellow man. An absence of noise. The deep peace of profound and remote nature.
Musing has become my life, meditation my default state, so easily do I slip into a very different frame of mind. Different indeed than that required to survive on this foolishly busy planet.
Today there is no one here. Today the flight paths are blighting some other part of the capital, and no Leviathan thunders overhead. Today the noises of suburban London and its multitudes are muffled by mist and incessant, healing rain. Perhaps dinosaurs walk up Ludgate hill, as Dickens once mused.
How differently have I come to think of late, how content with small things and silent meandering.
What quiet and deep pleasure I found in the company of my decent and kindly old father in law today. How much I enjoy quiet chats to random strangers who cross my path. A man from Burma, who had a decade on me, told me the other day of his birth in an Indian refugee camp in the 1940s and his long route to England.
People are decent, generally speaking, but crowded together like rats in a cage and forced to compete for scarce resources, this brings out a different and less gentle behaviour in us all.
Where does the answer lie? With quiet old men who dream of a better world or with people who build and do and strive and conquer.
Damned if I know, damned if I don’t but there has to be some better model where people can have what they need and leave the rest of us in peace.
What would this old dreamer have? Quiet, beauty, peace, thought and freedom from physical necessity.
For all. Such a dream ought to be possible in a universe as vast as ours. Room for the wearisome Musks and the Elons. The tedious Trumps and the Neronian Putins.
Or do such people need to own and dominate like the hungry ghosts of Buddhist philosophy. Perhaps they do, but they must leave the rest of us out of it.
As Greta Garbo once said “I want to be let alone”.