‘It is very nice, this nice weather we’re having.’ I’m trying to work out what Sedartis thinks about simple things. Sedartis agrees, but: ‘it is also a burden.’
‘How is it a burden?’ I ask him, though I feel I know the answer already:
‘It is also a burden because it insists on our enjoyment of it. If it were raining, or grey and drizzly, or at the very least cloudy and disagreeably damp, we would both be happiest sitting indoors and doing some work on the computer, or listening to music, or having a nap, or watching a documentary we had recorded months ago and never found the time to catch up with, or play the guitar and sing an old song, maybe quite badly. We would be deeply content and get some of the things done that we have been meaning to do for a while. Instead, we have to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. Or go for a walk. We go for long walks anyway, there is nothing wrong with long walks, quite the opposite, we love our long walks come rain or come shine, but with this very nice weather entangled is an inescapable obligation: it would be a terrible waste of a beautiful day now to be locked inside and not happy.’
‘It’s good to be happy, though, is it not?’
‘It’s good to be happy,’ Sedartis agrees. I sense there’s a but.
‘But the effort of being happy can prove just too much. Sometimes it is so much more agreeable to be moderately gruntled, and enjoy the undemanding low-level misery that comes with being English in England. The stridency of happiness can be quite overbearing.’
I know he’s right, though I will him to be wrong, and I close my eyes and inhale the neither warm nor cold air. The city is in constant, fuel-driven agitation: cars and lorries and aeroplanes and buses and the ambulances. Always, always the ambulances.
I like the sun on my skin and the heat that expands under my cheekbones. I enjoy enjoying the weather, burdensome though it be.
A big fat clouds starts wandering across the sun, and immediately the air feels much cooler, but not quite yet chilly. I open my eyes and see it will pass ere long.
I like autumn, though it signify decay. This year, I’ve chosen to stay in London rather than go away. I like London, I love London. It troubles me, right at the moment. There is too much cold money breezing in that doesn’t do anything other than stifle the cracks that before let the light shine through; it deadens the life that makes London unruly, infuriating, adorable; but still I love it, because I know this siege, too, will be withstood, like the small cloud across my sun this very moment, it will pass, and ere long. I have an old-fashioned, daily rejuvenated love affair with ten million people, with more history than I know to make sense of and a generous, rebellious, untamed and untameable heart.
I sense there is a change in the air and I know the change will be profound.
Sedartis nods in agreement and some slight tingle of anticipation; I close my eyes again and take it all in while it lasts, while it lasts…