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England

Take Your Beauty Where You Find It

It’s easy to find beauty in the Cotswolds, even in November when the countryside offers up a half-hearted reprisal of spring before the winter sets in. Trees flame up with golden foliage standing in for the oil of rapeseed yellows of May, while the fields that were ploughed under in September now sport a green stubble. But last week I stumbled upon two more unlikely but nonetheless beautiful scenes.

The first was while I was driving on the M25, London’s orbital road about which it’s difficult to say anything pleasant at all. Bored of the deliberate cantankerousness of John Humphrys interviewing politicians on the Today program, I switched off Radio 4 just in time to spot what appeared to be a giant, multi-colored amusement park ride just off the motorway. It turned out to be a lot for cherry pickers, but there was something so striking about the towering height of the machines and their assorted candy colors that they would have looked equally as in place in the Turbine Hall of the Tate as on the edge of the M25.

The second was at 8:30am last Saturday morning when husband and I went to pick up my car in Soho after our Priscilla evening the night before. Early on a weekend morning Soho is almost village-like, barring the occasional but reliable sounds of a jack hammer or car alarm. We stopped into the equally reliable Bar Italia for coffee, where the Formica and neon and lipstick red Gaggia haven’t changed since the middle of the twentieth century when they were first installed. The Christmas decorations were out in the form of pannetone boxes entwined with lights strung from the ceiling. The November morning was mild enough to sit outside, where we were joined by a table of four what can only be described as blokes from the London fire brigade. Next to them sat two slight, twenty-something men discussing the merits of skinny jeans versus boy leggings over their morning coffee.

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