Alone With Bankside

My last Saturday of 2001 should be written about, even if I don’t manage to write about anything else.

Lost myself happily in Surrealism: Desire Unbound at the Tate Modern for nearly four hours. Hans Bellmer’s doll concoctions made me think of Sandman covers. Un Chien Andalou wasn’t nearly as shocking as I’d expected it to be. Loved Man Ray’s photos of Lee Miller. Wished they had more Magritte. Finally found out name and artist of the painting I’ve long privately described as “Alice in Wonderland meets The Shining” – it’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, artist Dorothea Tanning.

When I left it was already dark, but walking along Bankside and across the bridge to Blackfriars, St Paul’s and all the other riverside buildings were lit, and the water was incredibly still, reflecting them perfectly. For a moment on the bridge it felt like I was the only thing moving through the world. I realized I hadn’t uttered a word to another human being in the last five hours despite being surrounded by crowds, and that I was freezing cold and completely alone – but completely content. And I walked along brimming with that strange solitary joy, loving London, loving the fact that I still love being alone.