At last, a proper winter seems to have arrived. We don’t have the extreme of the polar vortex that Canada and the northern states of the USA are currently experiencing, but we have had some frosty starts and, now, a heavy layer of snow. School seems to be cancelled and kids are in the field opposite the house, sledging to their heart’s content. The silent garden looks magical now it is cloaked in snow. I know it is the increasing climate extremes that are the worry but it is comforting that we can still have real winter weather amid the trend towards global warming.
Middle Son texted to tell us London just has rain and in any case, the warmth of London’s buildings normally means that snow we see in rural areas becomes grey slush in the city centre. However, London has other attractions and I was able to pay another visit last week.
The main reason for the visit was to meet up with some old work colleagues, as we do once or twice a year. We worked together in 1977/8 and those times that were so formative to our early careers remain pretty vivid in our collective and shared memory. We recalled some of those memories again. We also caught up with more recent life developments and steered away from divisive Brexit debate sufficiently to make the get together over beers and curry very pleasant.
When I travel up to London for an event like this I have the flexibility of no time or work commitments plus the availability of a sofa bed in the flat we rent out to Eldest Son. That enables planning of extra-curricular activity to maximise the diversity of fun during my stay.
Almost always, I include a trip to Rough Trade Records so I can work my way around the listening posts there and catch up with latest music they are promoting. This time I also attended one of their free gigs. The band, Toy, is one I have followed since I enjoyed them at the same venue in September 2012. I’ve seen them a couple of times since including, believe it or not, at a remarkable gig primarily for the deaf/hard of hearing in 2015. They were worth seeing for a fourth time and I’m sure they now have even more hair.
I also went to the Good Grief, Charlie Brown exhibition at Somerset House. It was interesting to read about, and see through examples, how Charles M. Schultz developed his cartoon technique and characters. The exhibition was also instructive on how Schultz managed, even as a white, middle class and relatively conventional American, to dabble in modern day issues such as gender identity, race, abortion, feminism and psychiatry/mental illness while growing his audience for his modest and understated Peanuts cartoon strips. However, one would need to be a very dedicated follower to review all of the material on show and I think I grasped the main themes without concentrating on it all.
Following a rather overly meaty breakfast (of three separate dishes of merguez sausage, black pudding and chorizo), I headed north to Stevenage for a Forest Green Rovers Football Club away game. I watched us notch up another excellent win with my Best Man (BM) who lives nearby. I then stayed a couple of nights with him and we spent the weekend watching more football, walking around the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) site where he used to work (as we had last September), and visiting St Albans.
Views At The RSPB Reserve, Sandy, Bedfordshire
I hadn’t been to St Albans for years. It still hold happy, though blurred, memories of my first excursion out of London to St Albans with my now Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) in her unassuming, idiosyncratic but effective Citroen Diane. This time, BM and I visited the Roman ruins, the very old and lovely Cathedral and a very nice pub. But we also saw the lake LSW and I held hands by over 35 years ago.
I had a very relaxed and amusing time with BM. He continues to do big corporate work and travels a lot. It was good to catch up on events in his complex and busy life but also to mentally compare his world with mine. I’m very happy with my simpler, leisure-oriented lot.