I first posted this way back in February 2020 but then COVID-19 took centre stage and the rest, as they say…
Two years down the line and my brother-in-law will soon be on the road, walking coast to coast across Ireland. He’s bought a stout pair of walking boots, the rucksack’s fit to bursting and he’s ready to roll. I hope he’s packed a bottle of whiskey and a brolly too. He’ll need both. I know times are hard and bills are rising but if you can spare a few pennies, that would be really something. Click the image to find out how.
I reached the grand old age of sixty last year. This year was Liam’s turn and I’d planned a succession of treats – for me as well as for him – in old London Town. First up was a dinner date and gossipy catch up with an old pal in a fancy French restaurant in Chelsea, the trendy part of town where I gladly misspent much of my youth – ‘Days on the tills and nights on the tiles,’ I call it. The King’s Road is my memory lane and Liam joined me on my trip down it.
Next day I whisked Liam off to Covent Garden for a full English followed by a stroll. Once London’s main fruit and veg market with an opera house attached – think Audrey Hepburn as the cockney sparrow flower girl lip-syncing to ‘Wouldn’t it be Loverly?’ in My Fair Lady – Covent Garden has long since evolved into a major magnet for tourists. And there were tourists aplenty, finally returning from home and abroad after lockdown.
Here’s the queue for Burberry. All that fuss just for a posh handbag.
We decided to take in some street opera and pavement art instead.
Our Covent Garden jolly continued with a ride around the London Transport Museum. In many ways, the story of London Transport is the story of London itself. The city couldn’t have spread like it has without the constant innovation needed to enable Londoners to go about their business. If trains, tubes, trams and trolley buses are your thing, it’s an Aladdin’s cave. We loved it.
After a brief power nap back at the hotel, we jumped on the Tube for a real indulgence – a performance of Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre. The musical tells of the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of the (to me) lesser known American ‘Founding Fathers’, delivered in song and rap. The deliberately delicious twist is that most of the cast – including Alexander himself – is black or mixed heritage. Adorned with every gong going, the show is slick, brilliantly staged and tuneful. The rap is used as dialogue and is lyrical and clever. It’s a masterpiece, a work of genius.
The evening concluded with more posh nosh and a final snifter in our favourite dive bar in busy, buzzy Soho. The long weekend was a whirlwind with the perfect ending. We finally got to meet Fred, our newest great-nephew.
You know you’re getting old when the UK’s best-known high street pharmacy chain starts sending you information and advice about erectile disfunction, hair loss and premature ejaculation – or is that premature eJackulation? What a bleedin’ cheek. I’m thinking of handing back my loyalty card in protest. It’s bad enough that I’m up in the night for a sit-down pee. I wonder what Boots the Chemist recommend for this? Oh yes, lighten up on the late night booze.
For the record, I do suffer from one of these three deadly sins. Let’s just say the shampoo lasts a bit longer these days.
Before the miracle of modern medicine and universal healthcare, life for most was plagued by illness or the fear of it. People croaked in their beds from mundane diseases that today we pop a pill for. Many a cottage stairwell was too narrow for a coffin so some featured a trap door between floors called a ‘coffin hatch’ (or sometimes a ‘coffin drop’, for obvious reasons). This allowed the dearly departed to be laid out at the end of a bed in their Sunday best for the procession of mourners who came round for tea and sympathy. And it provided a more dignified exit to the graveyard. Much better than bouncing a stiff down the stairs.
Our cottage may no longer be an unsanitary hovel with cholera in every cup, but we’ve still got a coffin hatch, though not an original. It was constructed by the previous owner when he moved the staircase to a different part of the house. This modern hatch is just the thing for hauling up and down the big and the bulky. We’ve even hit on the idea of using the hole for a lift, as and when the stairs get too much. We’re rather taken with the thought of dying in our sleep – from old age we hope.
As further confirmation of my inevitable slide towards the slab, a bowel cancer screening test kit dropped on the mat – part of the national programme to regularly screen everyone over 55. It was back in 2016 that I endured the pain in the arse procedure at our local hospital. Five years on and the quacks are back for a second poke around. This time, though, it doesn’t involve a rear view camera, just a stick and a bottle.
As we all know, the NHS is under unbelievable pressure right now due to the pandemic knocking it for six. But it’s not quite ‘all out’ yet. I, for one, remain eternally grateful that my own health is in such capable, dedicated hands. Thank you!