Friday 17th July 2014
This is nearly three months old. My sister would be kicking my arse if I didn’t include it. Today was all about London. A city that I consider probably the most interesting on the planet. Samuel Johnson said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” I don’t wholly agree. Pamela likes it only a bit (although not as much as I would have thought) and Pamela certainly isn’t tired of life (she wants to make life. Babies, babies and more babies). This trip was about showing her London in a more positive light. She’d spent a day there previously and found the London mannerisms a bit abrupt and rude, as most people do when they visit London for the first time.
The journey started at Birmingham Coach Station with an extremely charismatic bus driver from somewhere in the West Indies. He read the riot act with a breeze that made us all laugh but respect the rules to the hilt. There was a wonderful touch of light humour to him, as well as threatening malice if we stepped a toe over the line. I remember one woman who got off the bus and wished him a nice day. His reply was, “I always do!” One of God’s great people.
I remember while passing through Kilburn on the coach, close to where ICYE is based, and seeing the Thai cafe where I sat deciding whether to go to Honduras over a bowl of noodles. There was an elderly woman with mental health problems shouting at people, making children cry as they passed. A strange thing to remember, I agree. I had the song Central Reservation by Beth Orton playingvon my iPhone at the time, four years or so ago, a day that changed my life in more ways than I can imagine. I told Pam and she smiled broadly.
We made it to Victoria Station. Pamela had to get used to the idea of walking fast and not caring too much about surroundings and buildings and actually enjoying the scenery. People seem to tut rather loudly if you’re not walking at London’s fast pace, which is a velocity alien to many Latin based people who enjoy strolling. Me too. But I seem to get into the anxious adrenaline that is London. It’s in the water, so they say.
We left our baggage at “left luggage” at Victoria Street then we made our way to Liverpool Street where we were met my good ol’ chum Tom Teddy Purvay who lives in Shoreditch (living in the house owned by Neil Finn from Crowded House, right next door to Russell Brand (just to names drop)). Tom and I grew up together in Hall Green. He was/is a session musician with Ladyhawk, specialising on the bass, and I was once given tickets to see them in Wolverhampton while they were supporting the moody Mancs, known as The Ting Tings. Tom is also producing his own music, travelling every few weeks off to Oz or the States or various luxury locations around Europe. Not a bad life. We went to his house and then had a spot of lunch at an organic restaurant. Then a walk around Spittlefields, before we went for a lovely pint. I don’t get to see the lad much but it was great to see the boy who his sisters call Egg Head. His head never actually looked like an egg but it wound him up a treat. Pam liked him too and she was gifted a magazine that costs over £10 which his fiance is a photographer for (which Pam has a massive interest in). Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture together and it’s a grand shame because I miss
Egg, I mean, Tom. Here’s an old picture from Facebook.
We were then on our way down to Kingston-on-Thames where my sister lives. We were staying in a Premier Inn near to where the telephone boxes are piled up. Sound strange? It’s a statue. An interesting one.
My sister had us on a strict schedule to be at hers at seven sharp. We threw on clothes after sitting on a stiflingly hot train. I wore my Galeano tshirt for Kingstonians to see, and we went to a restaurant that sits on the banks of the Thames. I think it’s Italian. It had an Italian waiter who was keeping our glasses full with Prosecco but I seem to remember eating fish and chips. What was best was seeing Hanny West, my brilliant cousin who met us with flowers for our engagement. She got to practice her Spanish with Pamela. Then Zahra, one of my sister’s best buddies turned up (we called her Guatemalen, her family are actually from India), and a bit later a guy who my sister had an ill fated relationship with, who was a motorcycle champ, a personal trainer and had loads of tattoos.
After dinner, we drank loads of cider in a nearby bar. I remember having a wee bit of hangover the next day. It was nice to be back in the big smoke.