thoughtwisps One commit at a time

a portrait of a city in a heatwave

From the London Notebooks. Written in 2018.

Today is Sunday, the 29th of July. I’m drinking coffee in a place tucked in between St. James Street and Picton Place and watching the raindrops glide down the windows.

Today is the first time it rains in five weeks. Five weeks of unrelenting, brutal heat, a hot hairdryer blowing on London.

Time has passed between the first day that the sky unveiled in a brilliant, cruel clear blue and this day under a grey cover.

What I mostly remember is dragging myself across Tower Bridge under the exhausted heat of the late afternoon sun, blisters on my feat and a Starbucks cup full of ice pressed to my forehead. And the afternoon in a park.

The grass in the parks is scorched, a prickly, brown, five o’clock shadow of a beard, that used to be an emerald lawn.

E is here. We, the gang of women in tech from London, held together by tenous ties and perhaps our shared trauma of our work in places that don’t want us. I realise, at some point, sitting on A’s picnic blanket, that those ties are not strong enough anymore.

Even the bitterest, overflowing cup becomes empty at some point.

I see B. B says things that make me uncomfortable, but says more about me than B. We should talk about mental health issues, but sometimes I’m not sure how I’m expected to respond. An overwrought expression of sympathy seems too much. A nod too little. I linger between both and manage something.

My brain feels fuzzy and empty today. I spend too much money. I want to do too many things. The scraggly stubby grass beard of Green Park prickles my legs from underneath the blanket.

I think about quitting tech everyday and then, upon seeing the rents on RightMove, immediately cancel that plan. I am just vessel to move money between the VCs that fund the London tech scene and the landlords that house the London tech scene.

I think about the heatwave and the forest fires and the one day the London sky turned a nauseating mustard yellow from some distant sandstorm.

I think about the smell of the air right after a rainstorm. When it all of a sudden becomes easier to breath. The dust settles. The sky with cauliflower grey-blue cloudwisps seems like the most beautiful thing.

I think about Piers Sellers, the astronaut in the Leonardo DiCaprio climate change movie, and his optimisim. The way he looks at the camera after he reveals his terminal cancer diagnosis and smiles. “I wish it all well”, he says.

He passed away a few years ago. He thought we could still, still had time, to get our shit together and do something about climate change. I’m not so sure we can anymore.

I think about this stupid system, right here in this city, that allows some people to own 500 apartments and others to freeze to death at Westminster Tube Station.

Only later, I notice that I’ve sat on a strawberry left by another picnic party. My legs and the blanket are stained red.