The historian in the park

Yesterday I walked across the park to catch a train to the British Library for the Georgians Revealed exhibition. In my bag I was carrying a very good history book by a very fine popular historian. As I walked down the hill, a jogger overtook me with an elegant running style and barely a sideways glance. It was the said historian out for his mid-afternoon run.

I’ve never been good with the fan thing. I’ve always been too embarrassed to walk up to someone with whom I have a one-way relationship and accost them as if it were two-way. And in this particular instance I would have had to:

  • run after the historian, which would have been uncomfortable at the pace he was going and pretty weird
  • by approaching him, reveal that we were near-neighbours (which I hadn’t realised until then), which would have been oddly stalkerish
  • not been British

None of these felt particularly desirable, so I just carried on walking, watching the brain which had distilled massive centuries-old narratives into exciting prose disappearing round the bend where my dog takes his morning dump.

This, I remember thinking, is why I live in London.

PS: The Georgians Revealed exhibition has some very nice things in it. But not enough crime and punishment for my admittedly biased tastes.

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