“You chose the right time to move to Margate,” I remark to Jon. He and Fliss moved here (to breed?) a few years ago. They got themselves a doer-upper. It’s huge, but would make me completely freak out considering I haven’t managed to install a power shower in over a decade in my bathroom.
Usually when I come down here we carry a load of rubble to the dump, or strip something down or build something up. Constant accumulation of small tasks. Jon is at it the whole time. He’s been on the go for years now and every time I go there it looks better. And now there’s another child – Felix. Absolutely tiny, and mewling like one of the many cats that Jon and Fliss seem to pull into their orbit wherever they go, who wander around the house and garden kicking shit over and shouting at stuff. So does Ethan. Two boys. Big house. A million cats.
Both of them here are worried about this bike nonsense, Jon consciously practical, Fliss consciously protective. Damn it’s a relief mum isn’t around or we’d be doing nothing but fight right now. Jon and Fliss have accepted I’m as stubborn as a mule and Jon has turned his considerable mind to the task in front. He’s a bike instructor. He’s helping.
He took me out on the mean streets of Margate. At one point he swore at me – which made me immediately do the thing he swore at me about, thereby giving me a very practical reason to stop doing it. At the end of the day his energy was positive enough. I didn’t get the “I think maybe you should abandon this idea,” talk. I’ve got to remember to cancel my indicators and take a better line in the road – both habits left over from car driving for decades post test. That and observation, not hovering over the front brake, and basic endurance. Keeping concentration even when I’m hot and tired. He took me pillion to the station.
Now I’m on the platform waiting to go back home. I’m not allowed on the high speed train with my ticket so I’m waiting to travel steerage. Four hours on a bike and I’m already knackered. In less than a month it’ll be four hours on a bike plus rehearsals plus show every day for two weeks. Good food. Good sleep. Vitamins. If I’m not fit as a fiddle by the end of this summer I’m doing something very wrong. Break it down into little bits. Give each bit my full attention.
Margate is thronged. It’s high season. Everyone is crowded on the sands. Dreamland is going to be packed. The seafront businesses are going to be making their year’s worth of money this week and next, now the school holidays are starting to roll in. It’s definitely livelier now than it was when I came here to do a show about the need to regenerate. I was playing Turner and a Margate Counsellor in a time hopping piece of theatre. Back then Dreamland was shut, the scenic railway was a threatening creaking skeleton blotting the horizon, the harbour arm stank, and for some reason they were building an art gallery – like anyone would come to Margayt to look at fackin pickshers. Great to see how much it’s changed. It’s a positive vibe in town these days – certainly at this time of year…