Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Streets of London.

It was the tonic we needed. Two full days. No work. No household chores. No cooking. No kids. Well, for Dad that wasn’t exactly true as he had his daughter either trailing behind, gazing longingly into designer shops, or blazing forward, A-Z in hand, leading the way.
First things first, having bought the train tickets, we arrived at Plymouth railway station at some utterly ungodly hour in the morning and, after a restorative coffee, made our way along a snaking train before we found our carriage. Dad looked at our bags. He had a wash bag, a posh shirt that I’d bought him for Christmas and some clean pants (at least I assumed he’d brought some clean pants). I, on the other hand, had a weekend bag which held, a few frocks – just in case, not quite sure in case of what, a hairdryer, various shoes of differing heel height, make-up, jewellery and nightwear. That was nothing compared to a handbag, a laptop and a Morrison’s, heavy duty, carrier bag which held so much school stuff that only a trainee teacher could comprehend. Dad was certainly stymied by it.
“Sweetheart, did you really need to bring this?”, he asked, huffing and puffing in my wake. I waved him to hurry up.
“Course Dad, loads of work to do. Long train journey is the perfect opportunity”, I wasn’t really concentrating on his needs as he wheezed behind me. My mind was set on finding our seats. I held the tickets at arms length and was most disappointed to find us squished into a tiny space.
“Where’s the table?”, I pondered out loud, “I need a table. I can’t do all this work on a…flap”.
Dad dropped the bags.
“No Alice, you can’t. Let’s upgrade”. My eyes lit up. Upgrade? I didn’t hesitate.
“Yes, let’s”. We made our way up the train to the pointy end, the one the other side of café and sprawled in big, comfy chairs. A big smile animated my face.
“This is the life Dad”, I said, slipping my shoes off and opening my lap top bag. I plugged the charger into the ‘wall’ and started to work.
“Good on you Alice”, said Dad, approvingly, “And we haven’t even got to the big Sainsbury’s yet”.
Seemingly 24 hours later and a journey I’m sure that went via Aberdeen, we arrived in London.
Two country bumpkins, we heaved luggage to the taxi stand and waited in line. They’ve got queuing for a taxi down to a fine art in London and it wasn’t long before we were hurtling up Park Lane. Bliss. Until it dawned on me that we shouldn’t be anywhere near Park Lane. Shizer. I checked my friend’s address. Balls. I’d given the driver the wrong address, worse, Dad would think I was an incompetent buffoon. I moved out of my seat and attempted a subtle discourse with the driver along the lines of “I’m terribly sorry, but we’re going the wrong way”.
“What was that Alice?” asked Dad. Drat. He’s deaf as a post most of the time, I won’t fall for that next time, it must be bloody selective.
“No worries Dad. Slight GPS malfunction, that’s all”, I explained, tapping him reassuringly on the arm. Within a second, the taxi had turned 180 degrees on a sixpence and we were, at last heading, towards our destination. Dad was in his element, sitting back and enjoying the view, humming quite contentedly, ‘The Streets of London’.
“Oi, Ralph McTell”, I said to Dad, “We’re here”. Dad tipped the taxi driver generously for having an incompetent daughter and, then after a few steps, we unlocked the door into the flat.
“Well, well”, he said, looking around, “This is very London I must say”. I never really ascertained what ‘very London’ was as we had to hot foot it almost immediately across Hyde Park to the Royal Albert Hall.
“All sorts of types up here isn’t there?” announced Dad as woman boinged her way past us, like a latter day Zebedee on what can only be described as stilts with springs; one attached to each foot. Air-trekkers, by all accounts.
Dad was further impressed that far from yet another cramped seating situation, I’d pushed the boat out and we had a box at our disposal. There was a Moet & Chandon bar behind us, which dad rather infuriatingly seemed to ignore rather than acknowledge. Never mind, it was a wonderful concert. A real Classical Spectacular, although, I must admit, HM Royal Marine Band at HMS Raleigh are just as impressive if with fewer pyrotechnic wizadry.
It had been a long day. By the time the matinee performance had ended we were both pooped, but it is so rare that the two of us have time to hang out together that I was determined we would keep going until we dropped, which is why it was, that an hour later, as dusk began to settle over the West End of London and an enormous moon seemed to have trouble staying in the sky, we meandered around Soho, one hand holding on tightly to my A-Z, the other clutching Dad’s.
“C’mon”, I said for the hundredth time that day. It’s not that he couldn’t keep up with me, but that he just kept lingering in front of shop windows that were nothing, if not a little indiscreet. I do not mean that he peered into the more seedy of these windows, good lord no, but it would be fair to say however, that to him a gents outfitters is exactly that, he was a little surprised then when the very gay shop assistant gave him a little camp wave, before the salutation, “Bonjour matelot!” We hurried on, laughing, “It must have been your Jolly Jack Tar tattoos that gave you away Dad”.
Not for the first time that day, Dad shook his head with the refrain, “Well it is very London I must say.”

1 comment:

Sally said...

Five in one!! Not got time to read the other four at the moment. Loved the London one.