London as normal

I’m lying on my back in bed. It’s 1am. Behind me, on the river, a stationary boat plays multiple tracks that all sound identical. Inside the boat a bored DJ is going through the motions, while yet another group of drunk people have the same old party. Between the boat and I, Chelsea Embankment is busy with traffic and sirens in both directions. London is very much going about its Saturday night business.

I spent the day with my dear dear friend Minnie, who is vast with a baby. Her whole being has been stretched to fit this little person. It’s unbelievable. She’s tired and her back hurts despite how fit and yogic she is. The baby might well see the light of the real world in less than a month. What sort of a world will that little spark of life find?

London is a bit paranoid right now as we overcome the fact that some kid got lots of coverage for behaving stupidly. All the news drops into our pocket so maybe it’s easy to assume that things are closer to home. Maybe we’re more likely to let news items affect us personally. Nobody I know in this city gave a second thought about getting on the tube and moving around as normal either yesterday or today. But lots of people from out of town expressed concern. It’s fine. Totally fine. Just lots more cops.

I’m glad I crossed town to see my best friend. Her pregnancy fills me with awe and wonder. She has been stretched. She has a lump that somehow manages to look both incongruous and completely natural simultaneously. It’s massive, sticking out in front of her. In a month’s time there could already be a little new person breathing the world. In two months time there definitely will be one. It’s amazing.

Today Brian and I all went round to spend time with the soon to be mum and dad. We ended up heading to a pub to catch the end of a football match. Not having much of a clue about football, and having driven up so needing to keep pretty sober, I took the football as my cue to head home. I look forward to meeting that kid, but one thing I won’t be doing is watching football with them. I’m still baffled by that game. I’ll stick with cricket. Makes much more sense. But that’s personal to me. Like your religion, you shouldn’t impose your sport on anyone.

As we came to the pub we saw a crowd of people. There had been a fire in the kitchen of the building next door to the pub – (as far as I could tell). When we arrived there was a fire engine parked up on the pavement and a strong smell of burnt plastic. The blaze had clearly been contained but they were waiting to be certain. And they’d drawn loads of people seeking selfies, or just hanging around checking out the firemen.

There’s no concern in this town right now. No panic. Everyone is as normal, no matter what you might read. This is London. Strangers on the tube smile for the camera if you ask them nicely.


Bed for me. Almost asleep anyway despite the crap music from the boat, and too many sirens up and down the road outside.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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