Tonight Out or You Can’t Keep The Moment

I love this city. I am an electric spark among nine million other electric sparks, zigzagging seemingly at random through her tunnels and canyons. I am a grain of sand on her grubby beach, washed in and out by the tide and time.
Tonight I have been out east, over there where it feels like Berlin and the people seem to know about music, playing back to back with Nikhil. And a girl asked us about a tune and we sort of collectively decided that she didn’t want to keep the tune, she just wanted to keep the moment. Because at that moment she was a little drunk and enjoying the music and as she hadn’t been out for while and it was a bit of a treat she was what we casually call happy.
Happy, that human state that we in this city sort of presume should be the default state for all electrons and grains of sand. The state that is actually so obviously always there but so hard for us to find. The state that is not the default, not the right we sometimes think it is, but something really rather special and unusual. Something to savour, something to treasure, something to remember.
And now, sitting here, back in front of the screen, despite my watering eyes and tired limbs, I am happy too. I can still feel it, that moment when we played the tune and she asked about the tune and we all, collectively, felt good, and I know I can’t keep it but from now on that tune will always make me think of that time, over east, in the Star, when that little thing happened.
On the way home I stop off at the 24 hour cafe at Liverpool Street for a sausage sandwich and a cup of tea. On the wall in there, I’m sure it will still be there when you go, it looks like it’s been there for years, there’s a picture of Harold Wilson and the Queen cutting a cake. I shot it with my phone so you can see it.
A long time ago I used to go to an Italian restaurant in Victoria that Harold and his wife, Mary, ate in. We used to eat the same thing – piccata di vitello alla crema. Can you imagine Tony Blair or David Cameron, in their dotage, in a casual walk-up family restaurant in Victoria, sharing the space with real voters, eating with them, usually undisturbed but nonetheless happy to say hello? I don’t think so.
Those were different times. Moments long lost. Not quite black and white like the photo on the wall but definitely in Hipstamatic, just like the app, colours faded, slightly blurry at the edges.
Was I what we call happy then in the Italian restaurant with Harold Wilson? To be honest, I can’t remember. I know I enjoyed the simple pleasure of eating the piccata di vitello alla crema with my family, and I remember I always has the feeling of being somewhere special because an ex prime minister had chosen to eat there. So I guess I probably was. And so was Harold and his wife, I like to think.
Then, as I walk the last steps home, through the playground, I hear birds singing, despite the grey night deep winter cold. And I think, the birds are twittering, and it makes me laugh, that even the birds can tweet. @blackbird: looking for mate. tweeting all night. second tree on right.
It’s true, you can’t keep the moment, and you certainly can’t always be happy. But you can always enjoy and remember, little inconsequential moments mostly, but moments that are no less beautiful for that.
And you can always play a tune that touches somebody and helps them dream a little. You can always whistle a tune and dream a dream.