It's hard to think in this searing heat. The stupor was enhanced by an hour of misshapen narratives that refused to let the past speak without comment or deconstruction. It was rather easier to succumb to more basic instincts as we spied first a changeable lizard, and later, two roving pigeons, on the parliament green and gave chase to no avail. We had a little more success with the bronze reliefs of lions in side profile that guard the corners of Elgin Bridge. But we went no further, for the promenade on both banks refused to stir on a stifling Sunday afternoon that was forcing the city into a reluctant siesta.
The river no longer stinks. Barges, sampans and skiffs no longer ply its middle reaches. Neither are there echoes of the coolies, swaylos and towkays who trudged and traded on a waterway that rose and reeked to the southern tide. The river no longer sinks. The woks that shook smoky, savoury aromas over the water went silent twenty years ago. The kitchens that rule the present cook inward and look to distant shores for culinary inspiration. The river no longer smells. But neither does it live, for its soul now dwells in an invisible city where the desire to make a living was happy to leave room on the bed for pleasures that cost little and never lose sight of one's true love and what really matters in a heart that's hurting.