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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Characters All Around Me

Our bit of London is an interesting kaleidoscope of characters.  From the travelers dragging luggage along Bayswater, the inebriated at Marble Arch, the hookah smokers on Edgware, and the wealthy all throughout Marylebone, they are all fascinating.  I am always casting an independent film in my head.  Given that this is my first experience in urban living, it is hard to say if the tableau of people is indicative of London in particular, or city life in general.  I love it.
I have several favorite types just crying out to be in a movie.  One set is the parents and children walking to a very high end boys' private school on our walk to our sweet, tiny, Catholic (tuition free) primary.  That school is so fancy that a future monarch and his brother attended its other campus.  The children are gloriously, Britishly preppy.  They are supremely disheveled in the morning and adorably kitted out in cricket gear on my favorite afternoons.  My mind wanders to what their homes look like and what their futures hold.  I assume these are boys of great privilege learning together.  Maybe theirs are friendships that will continue in laudable universities and as they go on to lead the world in business, government, and the arts.  I hope they are learning about those much different than themselves, too.  One of our favorite "neighbors" along our walk to school is the staff member who greets the boys every day.  If his attitude is any indication of the spirit being delivered to those boys, I am sure they are well tended to.  
Then there are those I call the“professionally thin.”Having never seen anyone of acclaim, (although I was once just minutes and steps away from spotting Hugh Grant at Waitrose.  Or so I was told by another“mum" at the school gate.  Argh.) the professionally thin are as close as I've come to the famous.  (I also really think I saw the Queen in the back of a car near Wellington Arch but I was on a bus going in another direction and can't be sure.)  Anyway, these unimaginably rail thin beauties always catch my eye and make me curious about their lives.  Have you seen those shows profiling modeling agencies?  They detail models traipsing around big cities for casting calls and photo shoots.  These are the types of women I see lots.  They are usually supremely tall made even taller by tottering in sky high shoes, fashionably messy, and have amazing hair.  Maybe one could come home with me and help edit my closet.  I'm always hoping they'll pause just long enough at a zebra crossing to toss me a quick life changing makeup tip or hairstyle idea or face product recommendation.  I'm open.  I watch them and ignore just how different I must look.  
My toddler and I could be undercover spies of everyday people.  In a way we already are although my partner is so deep as to be completely unaware of her assignment.  We have the best cover.  No one really sees us unless she's doing something particularly noisy or adorable or if I've unwittingly dressed her in something unusual to Europeans.  But following folks will really be the job of my movie camera man.  My favorite films are ones whose scripts must read like a Venn Diagram.  Just as you understand a bit of one character's life and follow them walking, you inevitably see a new character and literally pick up on their path. I love the concept and illustration of overlapping and intersecting lives.
In all honesty, though there are way too many characters to cast just in my regular goings on in my little corner of London.  There's the woman who rides her bike extremely fast (and even worse, downhill!) with a teeny dog (which means possessing very short little stumpy legs) on a leash running hurriedly right alongside.  When I see them I can't help but to stare because the sight almost defies logic, but I have to turn away, halfway expecting to hear the tragic yelping of poochie v. bike tires and chain.  Then there is the woman I have seen on more than one occasion in a short trench coat with what I believe is nothing underneath.  She looked sheepish the first time and I envisioned a funny story about being her locked out, or her dry cleaners not being opened as early as she'd hoped, or a catastrophic date.  I was sure that behind her half smile there was a hysterical story brewing that she'd share with her girlfriends over drinks.  It would be a story so good her friends would inevitably retell it to other friends in tears of laughter.  Then I saw her again just days later dressed exactly the same - lapels gathered in one hand around her neck and bare legs jutting out of the same chicly mini trench as before.  Now I'm left to wonder if that's just how she strolls in the early hours.  Hard to say.  My new neighbors.  Characters all.
*And one more thing about Venn Diagrams:  They will always remind me of one my oldest made for school a few years ago about his brother and himself.  In the separate circles were things like “likes chocolate” and “likes vanilla” and “likes UPS” and “likes FedEx” and in the crossover in the middle was “likes to snuggle together at night.”

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