I was rather cross with myself this morning, because I had one of my London meetings and had to cross Blackfriars Bridge, with all the wonderful sky and skyline that I went on about to you last time I went, and I was going to take my camera today so that I could take some photos and add them to my gallery so that you could see what I was raving about.
But we were in the car on the way to the station, as R decided to park there for the day instead of the Park & Ride for a change, and I suddenly remembered that I’d left the camera at home!
Here’s a view OF it: Link, but it isn’t quite the same as being able to show you the view that you see when coming out of the Underground Station and walking across it. Maybe next time – the next meeting is scheduled for March, so we’ll just have to be patient! Sorry.
I wondered something today, on the train, as I watched mums with children in their pushchairs. All these years I’ve watched parents with their babies and children, doing interesting things, having fun, watching their faces as they discover new things in museums, listening to the laughter and excitement as they play a game. All these years I’ve wondered how it must be to be the parent, and longed for the time when it was my child in the pushchair; my child demanding an ice cream; (my child having a tantrum!!) etc. But today, for the first time, I wondered.
Did those women ever notice me and envy me? Did they see someone obviously on their way to a business meeting, carrying a briefcase with their company’s logo satin-stitched in white into the front, reading the minutes of a previous meeting or making notes (or, as happened, today, just reading my Reader’s Digest!) and think how lucky I was? They perhaps noticed that I was married, and assumed that my children were grown up and at college or university, or perhaps with partners and children of their own. And there I was, on my own, confidently making my way into the Big City, heading for a meeting where there would be stimulating and interesting adult conversation and I would leave with the satisfaction of knowing that I had made a contribution to making things easier for my company and for people in general.
Perhaps they envied me my freedom. I was not struggling to get a huge pushchair between the narrow aisle between the train seats. I didn’t have to sit by the toilet because that was the only space left where the pushchair would fit. I didn’t have someone pestering me for a drink. I didn’t have a little person screaming because it liked the train moving but didn’t like it when it stopped. I was not carrying a massive changing bag full of nappies and baby wipes and 101 other necessary items. At the station I could nip into a shop for something and out again without watching out for little hands that might grasp something tempting from a shelf as we passed by, or causing other customers to tut as they found a pushchair blocking their path. I could go into any Underground Station I liked, up and down the stairs, up and down the escalators, hop onto and off trains, squeeze into narrow spaces wherever there was enough room left for one.
To all intents and purposes I was free, totally unencumbered, my own person. I wondered whether we were, in fact, envying each other for what we both didn’t have. I suppose that happens all the time, all over the world, and ultimately it’s what drives us all on.
The philosophical moment was soon ended when I reached my destination and the sign on the inside of the loo door brought a smile back to my face. It said “Please leave this toilet as you would wish to find it”. I could hear my Dad’s voice saying, as he did once, years ago: “Full of fivers!” because he said that’s how he would have wished to have found it! That memory leapt into another, even earlier one, when I was with him once at a supermarket. The checkout girl said “How would you like to pay?” meaning cash or credit card. “A penny a week!” he replied, and made her day as well as mine.
These family sayings, the things that our parents say, remain with us forever, don’t they? I have a million of them that I grew up with, and R has a million more, and between the two of us we have probably generated another million! We hope that one day our son or daughter will learn them too, and make up their own, and therefore take the past into the future with them, and have the joy of knowing how much fun words and phrases can be.