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 51: Piano
Just arrived from Brussels, I walk briskly through St Pancras International station: I want to get back home asap. But after a few steps only, I’m stopped by a chatty man in a party hat. He holds a bottle of bubbles and plastic champagne flutes. He offers me a glass “won’t you join us? We are celebrating Friday night!”. Intrigued and amused, I say yes and follow him back a couple of steps back to the little crowd gathered around the public piano.
An old man is furiously playing tune after tune, providing the party’s main entertainment. He plays ragtime, classics from great musicals and even a few requests from the crowd. Finally he takes a rest: “Does anyone else want to have a go?”
A lady next to me steps up to the challenge, although not without a little disclaimer “I’m afraid I can’t play as well as you”. Never mind, we all say: we’ll enjoy the music anyway. She starts to play a lovely classical melody. Around the piano, people start getting to know one another. It turns out it’s a chance encounter for us all, a spontaneous meeting of souls. None of us were planning to stop here and we would not have it hadn’t been for that man, Lee, who heard a piano player and decided he would go buy bubbles and start a party.