Thursday, July 08, 2004
Swiss Cottage, 1950
posted by Jonathan Calder |
There was also, in the Swiss Cottage area at that time, a wonderful sadness which seemed, for some reason which I cannot entirely recall, well suited to our mood. There was a sort of late Viennese melancholy, promoted by the large number of middle-aged refugees who sat drinking Kaffe mit schlag in the Finchley Road tea-rooms and then returned to their bed-sitters to listen to Mahler on the wireless and work out chess problems. They were the lost families who, during the war, felt particular terror when they were able to shout at an approaching aircraft, "It's one of ours!"
In time the quiet streets around Swiss Cottage would be torn down to make room for offices and blocks of expensive flats. When we started to live there the rows of bells beside each front door were identified by engraved, Central European visiting cards. On summer evenings the crumbling terraces would come to life with the sound of exiled string quartets, rehearsing for concerts which might never be arranged.
John Mortimer Clinging to the Wreckage (1982)