Around London in 80 days
In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.
And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.
Day 21 : Serpentine
One day, a few summers ago, I had a go at the Serpentine Lido, where only members of the Serpentine Swimming Club can swim, everyday between 5 and 9.30 am.
Except in the summer, when it’s opened to “outsiders”, so I went. It was cold, but that was quickly forgotten, as I enjoyed swimming past ducks and pedalos in the middle of Hyde Park, in the middle of London.
Alas, all things come to an end so after a while, I got out of the water. Back to the ground, back to earth, back to reality. And there, getting ready to go in, was a man with his daughter ; he said hello, we started chatting. He too was a musician ; a double bass player ; he often gigged in Belgium so knew it well ; he gave me his card, which was the same strange mini format as mine ; both had similarly-styled cartoons of ourselves with our instruments. A sign, for sure : a new friendship in the making. But I had to go, and he and his daughter were ready for their swim now. This conversation would have to wait (and indeed resumed a few months later).
I can’t guarantee there’ll always be a friendly Scotsman for you to meet at the Serpentine, but it is worth a detour in any case. And if you ever find yourself nearby on Christmas day, look out for the Peter Pan Cup race, a 100-yard (91m) freezing cold race for hardcore members of the Serpentine Swimming Club.