“I did some work here once,” I tell Ethan. “It was weird. People had to steal a briefcase from me. They weren’t even sure they had the right person. But they did it anyway because they had group consensus and they could frame it as a game. Then I spoke to them about how their transgressive action was arguably no different to the actions taken by people who crash the economy in that building just over there.” I point to the London Stock Exchange. “I ended up in the Evening Standard.”
Ethan thinks for a while before he responds. “CAR,” he posits in response. He’s two. He hasn’t quite sorted out differential vehicular recognition and his conversational engagement is even worse than mine. “Well, Ethan, it’s not so much a car as a cement mixer. I used to call them cemiximentors though. But I don’t want to confuse you so we should go with truck?” “CAR!” he insists. The lights are changing. Fuck it. Car will do. One day he’ll be capable of beating the crap out of me. The cemiximentor drives off but Ethan has a new thesis that he wants to share with me. “PLANE!” he suggests, pointing to what is, indeed, a very plane. We revel in delight at this marvel of engineering as it crosses our field of vision. His grandpa was a pilot after all. We admire this triumph of man over nature and grandma comes back from the loo.
I’ve been sitting. I’m not sure if I’m babysitting or mothersitting. I’m sort of doing both, while sitting myself as well. He wants cars and planes. She wants wine. I can strike a balance here. But oh hell I’m hungover. Maybe they’re actually sitting me?! Three equally incompetent human beings, three generations, combining forces like some sort of godawful Power Rangers spin off. “I’ll have the Cote du Rhone.”
I was supposed to be there at 12, but that was when I woke up. Last night went big, you see. I threw myself into the nearest clothes to my bed and then into an Uber when I noticed the time. Waking to front door slam more or less exactly 3 minutes. Michael the driver and I made it as far as Green Park, ever northerning in the quest to avoid traffic, before we both gave it up as a bad idea and I ran onto the tube instead to hustle to St Paul’s underground that way.
The conversation goes elsewhere as Ethan has had enough of my blithering. He falls asleep in some form of protest after no aeroplanes fly over for at least 5 minutes. His grandmother and I talk about healthcare and childcare in France, pilgrims and families and all sorts. I’m quite sad to see her go when my mate returns from his meeting. But I’m glad I’ve been able to help in some way and it’s got me out of a bed I might have just languished in all day after last night’s revelry.