There are deckchairs here, monitored twenty-four hours a day by High-Impact Revenue-Assurance Leisure-Seating Operatives under an agreement the Royal Parks have with WeCare4U Inc, which also runs eleven mental health units in the Midlands, a factory in Bahrein that produces chilli sauce and riot shields, and a chain of supermarkets in South Wales. Apart from the now infamous ‘Look, it’s Taylor Swift!’ incident on July 22nd last year, no civilian has managed to sit in one of these deckchairs for more than ten seconds without being confronted with the legendary mumble, ‘That’llbefourquidmateinnit’.
There are trees here. Ornamental silver limes, rare black poplars, proud oaks, stern planes, sweet hawthorns. These trees club together, help create a micro-climate: Blatter-cold in summer, Qatar-hot in winter.
There are people here. London people. Suity people, sweet people, sour people, sweaty people, salty people, sultry people, angry people, hungry people, lazy people, gorgeous people, ambling people, running people, people originally from Atlantis, people originally from Balham, three-legged people, elvish people, misanthropes and hippies, muggers, chuggers, gods, 70’s TV presenters and the ghosts of ancient children.
There are stories here. Tall tales, allegories, bestiaries, saws, fables and myth make every step you take another word in a brand-new paragraph, another world in a brand-new space; inventions fly back and forth, back and forth, from the tube to Buckingham Palace, each false, true and all points in-between.
There are conversations here about ménages à trois and strawberry jam, there are thoughts about Harry Worth and broccoli, there are feelings of mild ennui mixed with anxious passion mixed with that existential ache you get when you remember you’re not – and never have been – Steve McQueen.
There is power here. The power of that story Boyd wrote for the two of us, the power of the electric buzz of chat and promise, the power of savage, intimate anonymity.
There are memories here. Of childhood, of the childhood that followed that, of the childhood that nearly cost me my life, of the childhood that ended exactly one month ago.
There is paradox here. Styles change, imperceptibly. Everything starts off blonde and light and slightly amusing and finishes with the harshly Cimmerian, caliginous brunette of a 3am fox-screech and drunk-howl.
Yes. Everything in Green Park demands a dictionary, an explanation, a map. Nothing is what it seems. Nothing except the bench that rests over by the Canada Memorial, the one that no-one has ever sat on, the one with the plate screwed into the back, the one that has your name on.
There is memory here. And a version of hope.