Beneath it all.
Despite my condition we caught the London bus which passes our front door and 3.30 hours later were ensconced in The World City, as Carl Largerfeld called it. After rural Somerset, the bustle, the crowds, the wealth, was astonishing. Our South Kensington hostel made it going to the places we wished to visit easy and enabled me to reminisce. One morning I stood outside Kensington Palace for so long that an armed guard asked, “You OK Sir?”
I told him I’d been inside the palace many years ago. An old chap I’d met whilst walking in Hyde Park was also alone that Christmas Day when most people were celebrating. We got on so well that he invited me for a Christmas drink and I was surprised when we entered the palace, stepped across a huge hall, up broad stairs and into a large apartment. Sipping Champagne, nibbling nibbles, we chatted for a couple of hours as we looked out of tall windows overlooking private gardens.
Leaving the palace upon a hired bike, I cycled lazily around the park and came across The Household Cavalry. For a magical ten minutes I slowed to follow those gold-helmeted soldiers whose scarlet robes spread across the backs of their black steeds. I preferred to relish the experience rather than video the spectacle, as did many of those we passed.
To our left ran the sandy track called Rotten Row where my family once rode the horses they kept in their mews stables near by. I have no idea which of the baronial homes was ours, nor did I care that I’ve not the funds to even keep a horse, let alone buy the cheapest of the apartments now dividing our forgotten family home.
The previous day we’d accidentally found ourselves in a park by the Savoy Hotel and I knew one of five houses nearby ought to have been part of my inheritance. When I first came from Kenya, I’d slept under the bushes in this mini park for about a month, telling myself I had the right, having been cheated out of that vast inheritance.
The cheap hostel we were staying in wasn’t far from the Kensington square where I was conceived. It was also close to the flat I lived in when I ran my art business in the capital. More interested in helping people than making money, I eventually gave Tatu Colour freely to my delighted workers. Four years after that, again not far from here, I gave up another great position - running a meditation centre popular with London’s cool set, (I’d not liked it when I was lauded as a guru).
And in one of those elegant Kensington homes I’d danced with Joni Mitchell. In another I’d bored Leonard Cohen with my ill thought-out hippy philosophising. It was the times, I’m sure, such things happened to many.
The buildings are mostly the same, the vibe is as hectic and although I once mixed with the famed, I appear not to be the same person. Yet look inside and a kernel of that being exists. Wrapped in many layers, battered somewhat by years of bad health, it is still has sparkle, a man strangers in that stressed out city smiled at. They responded to the flash in the eye which is indicative of the free being we all have inside, but have forgotten about. Touching that, life becomes wondrous.