I woke with a start at 7am this morning. I don’t remember the content of the dream I was having, but remember a sense of loss when I came to my senses and realised that there would be no returning to it. Ten minutes later I was in the kitchen sipping a first coffee of the day and watching the clock while waiting for my eldest – Miss 18 – to finish in the shower. If she managed to wash and dry her hair inside half an hour, I would have time for a shower and shave too, and we would have half a chance of making it to the train station in time for the next London bound train.
Why is it that adulting consists mainly of doing count-back mental arithmetic on clock-faces, in order to make plans for teenagers that you have to threaten them to meet ?
We made it to the train station with five minutes to spare. I was quietly amazed.
It’s been a while since we visited London together – Miss 18 and I. It’s been a while since we spent any time at all together, to be honest. I suppose that’s just what happens when you start work – your life begins to diverge from your parents. Suddenly you have money, friends, independence, and much better places to be than sitting next to your Dad on a railway station platform. Except this morning that’s exactly where she found herself. I’m no fool. The real reason for my presence was as an escort of sorts – a safety net to shepherd her into London, across the Underground network, and safely to both Forbidden Planet, and the Doc Martens shop.
Ever since receiving her first pay packet, Miss 18 has talked about buying her first pair of Doc Martens boots. We have walked past the factory store in London numerous times en-route to the comic book shop on Shaftesbury Avenue, but never set foot in the place – until today.
Cutting a long story short, Miss 18 is now very broke indeed. A pair of black boots with roses emboroidered on them had her name written all over them. I tried to persuade her that classic black Doc Martens would be more practical, and think she may end up buying them anyway (oh, to have disposable income again), but today was all about those damn embroidered boots. They do look nice, but I have no idea how she will ever clean them. Maybe she’ll never get them dirty.
After leaving the Doc Martens shop with the biggest smile I’ve seen in quite some time, we wandered along Neal Street to Forbidden Planet – purveyor of collectibles, graphic novels, comics, cult curiousities, and things you didn’t know you needed until you saw them. What little was left in her bank account evaporated. Lets just say her collection of manga books expanded significantly.
This is where I admit to picking up a graphic novel for myself along the way. A quite ridiculous book called “The Adventure Zone” – apparently a New York Times bestseller. I stood reading it for quite some time while Miss 18 perused Tokyo Ghoul, Attack on Titan, and countless other Manga staples. I’m not quite sure why, but I’ve found myself picking up either one-shot books, or indie titles recently – once upon a time I was all about the big DC and Marvel titles – not any more it seems.
We thought about making our way across London to the river at one point during the day – to catch the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race as it swept past – but when it came down to it comic books and boots seemed far more important. And sushi. We always seem to end up eating sushi when we visit London together.
Before leaving the city we walked across to Trafalgar Square, and took photos of the fountains and lions. I suggested that it might be fun to visit the National Gallery while there – if only to visit the cafe in the basement and get a coffee. This turned out to be a colossal mistake, on account of the gallery being filled to the gunnels with people, and the cafe having one staff member. I think we got back to Paddington station and bought a coffee faster than if we had stayed at the National Gallery.
Somehow striding past countless priceless paintings in the National Gallery without a second glance while in pursuit of coffee seemed tremendously wrong. Irreverent.
During the day, Miss 18 remarked that I seemed to be “the great helper of people”. On the way into the city in the morning an Indian gentleman sat down next to me, and seemed a little lost. He gathered the courage to ask me which train he might catch to reach “East Ham”, and I spent some minutes looking through my phone with him – explaining about switching from Overground to Underground trains when we reached Paddington. He seemed genuinely delighted when I pointed out “East Ham” on a map.
Later in the day – while eating sushi in the basement of ITSU on Neal Street, a lady failed spectacularly at getting into the toilets (which are locked with a keycode). I wandered over and unlocked the door for her – grinning as I turned the handle in the opposite direction than she had tried three times. Moments later another diner appeared and almost peed herself while also failing to open the door – again I left my seat and wandered over. She said thankyou so many times it became embarassing.