This year, if things go to plan, I will be moving to the countryside (if somewhere that straddles the M25 can be described as rural). All my columns will be about unusual leaves I have seen, or a bee that has got into my kitchen (it’s going to be awful for you). But for now I am still in cosmopolitan, up-and-coming Shepherd’s Bush, the kidney of London (it’s quite close to the heart, but smells quite a lot like piss) so adventure is never far away.
The other afternoon I took my daughter for a walk and the air was full of craziness. I was stopped and asked for directions by an elderly lady and her daughter. Unusually they gave me the postcode of where they wanted to be, rather than the street name. They weren’t reading the postcode. Weird! They knew the postcode off by heart. And yet still didn’t know where it, or indeed they, were. I could only surmise that they were travellers from the future when all places, people and things are named by letters and numbers and nothing has a name.
I was prepared to put the postcode into my phone, but then they gave me the road name. Which I knew. Take that people of the future! Our old-fashioned ways are best. They were a good mile or so away from where they wanted to be and seemed to doubt me when I pointed northwards. The mother shook her head and told me I was wrong and gave me the name of the building they wanted. Obviously that meant as much as the postcode, so I turned to my phone which revealed it was halfway up the road I’d already directed them to. They were flabbergasted. They had totally lost their sense of direction in the Bush’s winding, Dickensian streets.
There was no time to chat. A bedraggled old man was staggering towards us. He screamed in absolute terror for one second, then became totally calm, then screamed again. His pain was not physical. He had just lived in Shepherd’s Bush for too long. I left before the Bush zombie could make me one of his own. The Bush black hole doesn’t yet have me in its clutches. I can still escape.
Later, a man with his phone pushed so hard to his face that his cheek could be used as an iPhone mould, barged past me. I heard him say, “No, I lost my car. If I lose my money I lose everything I have…"
Then he was gone. How tantalising and exciting is that? It was as if my slow-paced, largely unamusing, sitcom of a life had intersected with an action movie. How had he lost his car? Who was he asking for help? Was he another time traveller and he’d lost his Delorean?
I wanted to stop and offer him some help, but on the other hand I really didn’t. His life sounded terrifying. It was annoying not to find out what was going on. But more annoying, I guess, to be him.
I went home, played with my daughter, changed her nappy, bathed her and put her to bed. It was fun, but I imagine that any viewers who’d accidentally switched protagonist as I’d passed that guy would be a bit disappointed with the story they got to follow. Forget Herring singing “Row your fricking boat”, what happened to the lost car guy?
I suppose none of these people knew where they were going, but were still all in a rush to get there.
But then again, aren’t we all?
I am back on a diet. In 2014 I lost over two stones by counting calories and exercising regularly. In 2015, I put on two stones by eating everything that chanced across my path (as long as I didn’t have to move to get it). The year is even, so I must lose weight again. I yoyo my way through life. And not in the fun way that involves an actual yoyo.