"Others the country take for choice/And hold the town in scorn/But she has listened to the voice/On city breezes borne" (Amy Levy)
Wednesday, 2 May 2012
There it is again. The invisible hand leading me down this road, so often trod, and yet, still so unknown to me. The heavy traffic resembles an urban forest in motion, racing past me with the tall double deckers looming large like ancient oak trees. This time the hand invites me to walk slower in order to soak up my surroundings better; they're still bathed in the fast-vanishing sunlight. The sky is quickly losing its metallic blue and a cool shiver reminds me that, although spring has arrived, winter's not totally gone yet.
Euston Road, part of the New Road since days of yore, is the last frontier before crossing into north London. I negotiate my way deflty through the thick, early Saturday evening traffic with fellow pedestrians. Together, we all follow the same route travelled by sheep and cattle traders in the 1700s on their way to Smithfield Market. Bearing in mind that some bus drivers don't seem to have learnt how to use the clutch and brake correctly yet, you could be forgiven for thinking that we're still living in the eighteenth century. As cows.
Trees grow on both sides of the three-lane road looking more like a green excuse amidst the sea of concrete office developments around them than natural pieces of this urban jigsaw puzzle. The invisible hand leads me down Duke's Road (off Euston Road) and on to Flaxman Terrace to one of London's temples of dance: The Place, where I'm scheduled to teach a six-week Afro-Cuban dance workshop. Nearby is the Cathedral of Words: The British Library. One has students pirouetting in front of mirrors; the other metaphores and similes dancing off the written pages. In between them both runs Euston Road, on whose surface sheep and cattle traders once walked on their way to the market.