Midnight in London


Have you ever been so taken in by a place that you would ditch your perfectly sound, normal life to go and live there? Would you be so in love with an era that you would do anything to be transported back to it? Right. Midnight in Paris. And the lesser known fact that I am such a person.

I am an incurable romantic. I love history. I love fantasising. Put all these together and you have a recipe for disaster. No wonder I have ended up as a dreamy eyed retard who lives in the world of fantasies.  If I count the number of hours I have spent reading up and fantasising of bygone eras, it would account for half of my lived life.

How else do I explain my constant fixation with anything that would qualify as ‘old-worldly’?! As a kid sitting in history class and listening to the lectures on times long past, a chill would creep up my spine and I would get goose bumps while I imagined the Kings, Queens, revolutionaries, wars and struggles in flesh and blood. Even after the lecture was long since over and we had gone home I would not be able to get them out of my head and I would read and re-read the text book and dream about them with my eyes wide open. My parents sensing that help was needed would buy me fact books filled with details of historical milestones and I would read them all in one go and ask for more of them. My journalism undergrad degree had a module of history in the first semester and I still remember it as one of the most fulfilling semesters. I would scrounge the University library for history books and encyclopaedias and had created extensive notes that got termed as the ‘Guidebook for 1st sem history’ aka the notes that were photocopied by all my classmates and the succeeding junior batches thrice removed. It was sure fun to watch them all try to make sense of my indecipherable handwriting that got nicknamed the ‘jalebi’ writing.

And did all those antics satisfy my thirst for romance and history? You wish! Outside of class work, I read historic romances, novels with a historic theme or anything that referred to or was set in the days that involved lamps, horses and elaborate dresses. God, this is crazy, I know! But beat this; I was so taken in with the London of Sherlock Holmes, the period dramas of the Bronte sisters and the magic created by Dickens that I quit a job, chucked everything and moved to London to write. (Thank you for the applause and I can hear the soap opera style guffaws too.) There are times when I walk the streets and think, “I wonder how this street would have looked in the 19th century” (This had happened in Delhi too, especially at the Red Fort). My friends have termed me mad, my family is perplexed and I am astonished with the lengths I will go to live my fantasies.

Another place that sends a chill up my spine- Hampi, Karnataka

And then I watched Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s Oscar winning movie and it rang a bell. Actually a siren went off in my head saying ‘wooooo wooooo familiar territory wooooo wooooo’. After watching the movie I am half relieved that I am not as much in love with London as that guy is with Paris to start seeing things but a bit sad that I will not be picked up in an antique car at midnight and be transported back in time to the golden ages to rub shoulders with the literary giants that I look up to. Man, I would give anything to go back in time and meet Conan Doyle, Faulkner, Dickens, Fitzgerald and the like and get my novel looked up by Hemingway! Brrrrrr. I guess from now on every time I walk a street at night I will half hope to be picked up by that ‘time machine’ car.

Midnight in London
Picture courtesy: Timeout London (I guess)

And now I can’t get the jazz out of my head. And I can’t stop looking up the Eurostar prices to Paris. I can’t stop thinking about how wonderful it would be to be transported back to Victorian London even if it was for a few hours. Looks like I will have some interesting dreams tonight. Anyway time to hit the bed and before I do that, I might just look up the schedule for the upcoming Shakespeare’s Globe festival. No missing it and yeah I might as well look up the opening time for Warwick castle too (wink wink). And meanwhile let’s sing along with Cole Porter: 🙂

Birds do it, bees do it

Even educated fleas do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

In Spain, the best upper sets do it

Lithuanians and Letts do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

The Dutch in old Amsterdam do it
Not to mention the Fins
Folks in Siam do it – think of Siamese twins

Some Argentines, without means, do it
People say in Boston even beans do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

Romantic sponges, they say, do it
Oysters down in oyster bay do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

Cold Cape Cod clams, ‘gainst their wish, do it
Even lazy jellyfish, do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

Electric eels I might add do it
Though it shocks em I know
Why ask if shad do it – Waiter bring me
“shad roe”

In shallow shoals English soles do it
Goldfish in the privacy of bowls do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

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5 thoughts on “Midnight in London

  1. I love reading about Victorian London too! I like it even better when there’s Steampunk involved 😀 Look up the Alexia Tarabotti series by Gail Carriger, quite the romp.

  2. Pallavi i love your style….enjoyed this post a lot even though i am not so fond of history(goes back to my school days)…..your mention of Dickens,Bronte & others made me nostalgic of when i used to devour Eng. fiction.

  3. Pingback: Back to blog, Amy Winehouse style! « The Color Purple

  4. Pingback: London through my eyes « The Color Purple

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