Tuesday, 28 October 2008


The streets are unusually quiet as I make my way to the train station; half term and no clouds of noisy schoolchildren to fight one's way through. Instead, when I reach Waterloo, there a children everywhere. The cafes are full of them chomping their way through burgers, sandwiches and pastries, and the concourse is spotted with miserable faces and upstretched arms, as parents drag them off to museums and other educational treats. Neither parents nor children seem to be looking forward to their day out in London and I am amused by this and wonder when it suddenly became so important to provide one's offspring with constant entertainment and activity in the school holidays. None of the children in the books I read as a child were pandered to in such worthy ways, and neither was I or any of my childhood peers. One especially sulky-looking small boy crosses my path. His father's face bears an expression of weary pain as they head for Burger King. 'Serve him right.' I think uncharitably, and continue my way to work, an ex-teacher's schadenfreude, born from years of dealing with other people's horrible, ill-raised children.

Friday, 24 October 2008

'Allo, 'Allo, 'Allo...

Two policemen stand on the corner of Victoria Street, talking. They sport day-glo yellow waterproof jackets, waterproof trousers, and cycle helmets. Each holds his police-issue mountain bike by the handlebars and looks serious, but only one is wearing sunglasses – the sporty kind beloved of outdoorsy types. The day is dark grey and damp, the sunglasses are unnecessary and incongruous, making PC Oakley look ridiculous. Oblivious, he struts and talks, and after a few minutes, they freewheel down the pavement, off to fight crime; a pair of modern-day Dixons.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


Suddenly, it seems, the leaves have fallen. Green, gold, orange and brown, I step across a carpet of beech and sycamore, heart thumping and breathless. Looking down at the leaves, focusing on their colourful deaths keeps me steady as I make my way to the doctor's surgery. I ignore the steely sky. I ignore the stares of passers by wondering at the wheezy, twitching woman who stumbles along so unsteadily. I used to believe I could be well but now I'm asked to accept that this illness is my reality, my unhappy ever after. And I mourn. With the sombre grey-barked trees, I mourn.