London Calling

A little while after the sun rises tomorrow morning, no doubt after gazing at the ceiling for a little while, I will untangle myself from the safety of the bedclothes, stumble downstairs to the shower, have a shave, pull on some clothes, and wake my eldest daughter. With a little luck we will make it to the railway station on the edge of town in time to purchase two tickets, find a seat, and sit in worried silence with masks on, and disinfectant gel in our pockets.

We’re going to London.

This used to be our thing. Before the world locked down, we would regularly travel by train into the centre of London and join the river of people flowing from Paddington Station into the underground – squashing ourselves like sardines into the trains far below the ground, before climbing into bright sunshine at the foot of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, and of course Shaftesbury Avenue and our destination for tomorrow – Forbidden Planet.

It’s been eighteen months since we last set foot within the city walls. We are not brave enough to risk the underground trains yet, so will walk from Paddington – tracing the path of the Serpentine across Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park – visiting the statue of Peter Pan, and experiencing our first taste of “life” since the world fell into shadow.

After a litte exploration of Leicester Square we might watch the entertainers at Covent Garden before making our way to Forbidden Planet – the biggest comic book shop in the country. My daughter will peruse shelves of Manga while I marvel at artwork, and wonder quite where to start. I’ve never been much of a reader of comics, but I’ve always admired their art.

I wonder what London will feel like after so long away, and after the events of the last year? Will the streets still be quiet, or will the people have returned?

Postscript – the visit to London didn’t happen. Anxiety got the better of my daughter – a journey she has been on for many years. Let’s see what the day brings.



The staycation is coming to an end. Friday has arrived, supported by coffee, and bacon sandwiches. I woke a little after 6am, then convinced myself to sleep for another hour. I’m not sure why I’ve been waking up so early recently. At least it gives me time to do this – write a few words – before the rest of the house appears.

Spotify is quietly humming away in the background – filling the room with a supposedly relaxing playlist. It sounds more like angst and longing to me.

Earlier this week I ventured out of the house for the first time in months – escorting my youngest daughter to meet some of her friends in a nearby town. We travelled by bus, wearing masks throughout the journey. Along the way I discovered that none of her circle of friends had correct phone numbers for each other, and none of them knew where they were, other than “on the bus”. They had pre-arranged to meet at the bus station, and more by luck than judgement managed to do just that. I’ve begun to suspect that when together their common sense is far greater than the sum of their individual parts. The best part of the day? When they called each other after getting home, to make sure each other got home in one piece.

After waving goodbye to my daughter I wandered over to a used video game store, and picked up an arm-full of last generation video games. Ten old games for the price of a cinema ticket. I thought my middle daughter might have an accident when she saw the games (she has always been the gamer – her sisters not-so-much).

While on the subject of electronics, I resurrected a laptop yesterday – robbing parts from two old laptops to make one half-decent one. It’s sitting on the desk next to me, with a fresh install of Manjaro Linux installed. When I summon some enthusiasm later, I’ll finish installing it. My youngest daughter walked in while two of the laptops were in pieces across the desk – with circuit boards and screws everywhere. She recoiled in horror – “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

Thankfully I’m pretty good at putting things back together.

Late last night I got sucked into watching a few episodes of “Chicago Fire” with my other half. I did a double take when some cast members from “Chicago Med” showed up in an episode – apparently there are several series that cross story-lines on a regular basis – among them PD, Fire, Med, and Justice. One particular story crossed three of the shows in consecutive episodes. I love it when TV shows do things like that.


I think it’s time for another coffee.


Nineteen Years

Almost exactly nineteen years ago, in about half an hour if memory serves, I stood at the business end of a church in Oxfordshire, waiting for the future Mrs Beckett to arrive. Several aunts stood outside waiting for a Rolls Royce to pull up, and didn’t quite know what to tell anybody when it drove straight past. It turned out the driver had just missed the church (it was very small, and my other half talks a lot).

An hour or so later – after forcing us through the rigmarole that Churches do (this was years before I stopped sitting on the fence, and stopped believing in any of it), I turned around and was quite shocked. While you’re facing the vicar, who is invariably quoting chapter and verse and being very solemn and sensible, you tend to forget that most of your family and friends are right behind you.

I’m just trying to think what we have spent the last nineteen years doing since. Before children arrived in our lives we visited quite a few places around the world – France, Tunisia, Corsica, Spain, North America, Turkey. We also visited the various corners of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and various places around England.

A little over fifteen years ago we started thinking about children and didn’t get very far. After a long and tortuous story that I won’t get into in this post, we finally became parents about twelve years ago – going from zero to three children overnight (four if you inclulde me as a child too). Suddenly I found myself living in a house with four women. Somehow I’m still lucid enough to tell the tale.

Twelve years on and the children are almost grown – leaving schools and colleges, getting jobs, and beginning to find their way in the world. I have no doubt their directions will vary, and that we’ll need to continually remind them that it really doesn’t matter where you’re going, how you get there, or when you get there – as long as you’re going somewhere that you’re not too unhappy about.

Has it all been perfect? Of course not. Has it always been fun? Hell no. Do I regret anything? Of course. Would I actually change anything though? No. I tend to believe we are a product of our journey – of the decisions we make, the things we do, the things we don’t do, successes, failures, and so on. Without the journey we have no story to tell – no wisdom to inform what we might do next.

Maybe the secret to putting one foot in front of the other is to not be too unhappy about where the next foot is about to land. Everything else follows.