My notes next state: “Not really sure about Sunday. Pretty sure I booked my flight to Dublin. What the hell else? Probably slept late again. Hyde Park? Ah, I think this is the afternoon/evening I ventured again into Leicester Square to see The Hobbit.” I’m just glad that I mentioned it was Sunday, which gives me the chance to add some dated context into the narrative. It was almost certainly Sunday December 16, 2012. I’m pretty sure I didn’t visit Hyde Park on this day, but how about – whichever day it was – I share the walk I did take through the place, in as much detail as possible? Ok? Great. Probably the best way to enter the park is via Hyde Park Corner, which is true to its name located at the south-eastern entrance and features a Tube station by the same name. Then you pass through the Hyde Park Grand Entrance – an imposing concrete gate supported by Grecian columns that looks like a smaller and less flashy version of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. From there you dodge taxis and horse-drawn carriages across the South Carriage Drive and, during winter, are immediately confronted by the Winter Wonderland. The Wonderland is really something for dysfunctional families or courting couples, and not casually alcoholic, virtually chain-smoking loner tourists like your humble narrator. But they did sell mulled wine within, so I bought a couple of them then wandered north-west along the Serpentine – an elongated tear-drop-shaped body of water stretching from the park’s upper middle to its south-east corner.
There are countless paths crisscrossing Hyde Park, but I stuck to the lake-side before turning south at the Serpentine Bridge, passing the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain and leaving the park via Exhibition Road. So there you have it. I’m sure the park is a wonderful place for about a month or two during summer, when pasty Londoners descend on it to expose their pink bodies to the fleeting, warm sunshine. But during winter it’s a pretty dreary place only partially enlivened by the tacky Arctic-themed fair above Hyde Park Corner. I remember, even before I’d left New York, Emma in electronic correspondence had set my foolish heart all a flutter with eager suggestions that we could spend the weekend together in London, once I’d flown to the UK a few days later. Of course you know how that turned out. With the future in mind, I really need to stop being interested in diminutive, plucky and kind of geeky ambitious women. Because the fact they’re my type is irrelevant at best if I’m never theirs. Or I just need to find one with a soul. Nothing is set in stone. The future is uncertain. Though I’d be lying if I said I was becoming any more optimistic with each rejection or brush-off I get from such women. In fact the ways I’ve been treated (or not treated) by some members of the fairer sex over the years has left me with a gathering loneliness often even felt in the company of others. And I refuse to create an online dating site profile. Meeting someone on there’s about as romantic as an arranged marriage. Though there’s a couple of exceptions to this conclusion that I know of first-hand.
Like I said above, I wanted to see recently released The Hobbit in Leicester Square. I was confused by the fact that you have to line up in the blustery cold outside the cinema to buy tickets before entering the foyer and proceeding to the film. In fact for some reason at first I completely disregarded the box office outside the Odeon Cinema, and tried to open the door to its foyer without a ticket. An usher inside opened the door, and told me that I needed to pay for a ticket first. Duh, ya clueless Aussie bastard. I suppose that system discourages loiterers – or automatic-weapon wielding mass murderers. I mis-read that the next showing was at 9.10pm, when presently it was about 8pm and the film was actually screening at 11.10pm. So I went for a time-passing beer at Waxy’s Little Sister, where I’d been two nights before with Jim, Kristy and Tim. The bouncer was a little reluctant to let me in. Asked me how many people were in my party. Just me, I said. Then he delayed opening the door. I may have looked a little fucked from exhaustion, but I was stone-cold sober. So I still have no idea what the dunce’s problem was. Had Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner because the lines at both Macca’s and Hungry Jack’s were simply ridiculous. I both didn’t trust the rest of the area’s food, and baulked at the exorbitant, tourist-screwing prices. Then I returned to the cinema at about 9pm. “Shit!” Finally discovered Peter Jackson’s shamelessly money-hungry three-part adaptation of a two or three-hundred page novel was in fact playing at almost midnight. A lot of the UK seems to use 24-hour time for some pompous reason. Probably pomposity. Miserable, I dragged myself back to Blackheath – where even The Inbetweeners couldn’t cheer me up.