Another of our patented afternoon dates in London today. Though my brother-in-law also came along, which is OK after nearly 15 years of dating. You sometimes need someone to keep the conversation going. We were going to the National Theatre to see our friend Francesca Martinez’s hit new play All Of Us
, after a nice leisurely lunch on the South Bank. What a decadent treat this was.
We usually get off the train at Finsbury Park as there’s a long walk to the tube at Kings Cross and you can get straight on the Piccadilly and Victoria lines at Finsbury. My preferred route to Waterloo would be Victoria Line to Oxford Circus, then walk across to the adjacent southbound Bakerloo platform and BANG, you’re there. Catie’s phone said we should get the Piccadilly line to Covent Garden and walk from there. I thought the app in question was INSANE, but I needed the walk so we went the slow way!
When we got to Covent Garden there was a lot of people getting off and queuing for the lift and on a whim I suggested we take the stairs. There were nearly 200 steps and signs warned that this was the equivalent to 15 floors. But if we were walking, let’s fucking walk.
The signage made it clear that they didn’t want you to use the stairs, except in an emergency, saying the lifts were much quicker, but we were committed now. About halfway up an announcement played giving this information again from a stern voiced man. I wondered if we’d been seen on camera and someone had pressed a button, but we were halfway up Everest now and it would be weird to turn back now. If we died, we died. We weren’t the only people walking either. Once they’d given the info surely it was up to us, though I suppose it would be them who would recover the bodies.
For someone who has worked on Jacob’s Ladder in Cheddar and had to pop up the steps to open and close the attraction each day, this was nothing (though I was 18 when I did that). I felt a little wobbly at the end, but we made it. Suck on that Covent Garden station control room. We don’t obey your “rules”. Even though they are clearly there for our own safety.
As we walked across the river and looked at London, Catie reminded me of our early dates back in January 2008, when we’re walked through London together and I’d said that it felt like the city was built just for us. It really had. She asked if London still felt that way fifteen years on and I said that it felt like it had been built over a course of many centuries by people following their own agendas and never thinking about the two of us. But we still felt the warmth from that nuclear explosion of love that had made us feel like we were the centre of creation. And I love her more than ever and with less delusion about the construction of capital cities. At least until archaeological evidence indicates otherwise.
Lunch was very nice, though as always I wondered who all these cunts are who are able to take off two or three hours for an expensive lunch on a weekday. Obviously I am one of those cunts, but I only do it very rarely. It feels like the rest of them are always in there, not working, but somehow rich. There’s every chance that all of us only do this as a special occasion and that I only feel strongly as an attempt to deflect some of my own guilt. Though I always feel guilty if I am not working. Even after all these years. I think a lot of people who do my job don’t have any guilt about wasting away their days on fun and then working for a few minutes at night. And at the end of my life I am sure I will feel great about not having wasted my time having fun.
It was great to do this today though.
The play is nearly three hours long and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about spending that much time in the theatre, but it raced along and was funny and thought-provoking and moving and it was terrific to have a work that not only gave a voice to the disabled community, but was written and performed by disabled people too. Francesca is a great comedian, but she has a lot to say about the way that the benefits system is being run (down) and Francesca Mills as Poppy was fantastic.
We got to briefly say hi to Francesca Martinez and her partner Kevin (also great in the play) after the show and realised that it must be at least five years since we last saw them. Probably more.
We went back to Finsbury Park via Oxford Circus and my tube knowledge was vindicated. This is about the only hack that I remember for the tube now, after over 5 years away. I used to know the best carriage to get on for many journeys too.
Once the city was built for us and now we’re at the point where me knowing London better than my wife’s app is a significant victory in the battle that is marriage.