Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Flapping umbrellas fill the lanes

I woke up this morning to find a river running down the Archway Road. It was absolutely pissing it down. I took an umbrella from our kitchen draw and tried to walk up to Highgate Village, but got as far as the end of our alleyway before being forced to find a more local cafe.

Within about a minute my umbrella had collapsed, and frankly, I’d have stayed drier by walking about with a tissue on the end of a straw above my head.
I took myself to a cafe on the Archway Road near Fiona’s house. I’m not sure why I’ve never been there before. I think I thought it was some kind of Thai restaurant because it serves noodles at lunch time alongside coffee and cake. Stepping inside was like finding a new home. It’s a quirky sort of place; double fronted, with all sorts of antiques, mirrors and general bric-a-brac hanging from the windows and stuffed into the corners. I sat at a sewing machine table, which still had a working mechanism underneath, which gave my feet a little something to fiddle with... ADHD? Me?
My new friend, Keeley was in there with her daughter, and her husband, who’s a film director, seemed to be doing the cafe owner a favour by working behind the counter! Fiona popped in, and we all had a lovely little chat, and for the first time in a long time, I began to feel like part of a community, which is very rare in London. I shall definitely go there again.

On my way home, I walked past a new shop, which is one of those places that doesn’t seem to sell anything in particular. There are displays of weird shiny stones in the window, and strange rag dolls. Inside, I could make out a shelf covered in ornate mugs. There were two mannequins at the side of the shop displaying two rather ordinary-looking dresses. It was all a bit weird. A forlorn-looking woman was sitting behind the shop counter, hoping, one assumes, against hope that someone might be drawn into her crazy little world. I’ve never seen a customer in there, and this makes me feel incredibly sad.
Readers will be thrilled to hear that it is “rabbit month” at our local vet. What is a rabbit month, I wonder? Free neutering? Cheap hay? Little parties where children sit with rabbits shivering on their laps? I hate rabbits. I used to love them. They’re silly creatures. Mind you, the worst rodents of the lot are guinea pigs. Nasty little, frightened, pointless shaky things. Our friend Mo, who we stayed with in Malvern, was looking after a guinea pig which spent its entire time hiding underneath a little wicker basket. What’s the point in a pet which is too frightened to do anything but hide?

And what of Pepys? Well, 350 years ago, he called in on his parents to find them tearing strips off one another. He obviously blamed his mother, who he had started to despise, describing her as “simple and unquiet.” He spent the afternoon with his father and various lawyers trying to settle his uncle’s will. In the evening, he took his wife to the theatre to watch The Witts, which he’d already seen... twice.
I am about to go and see The Wizard of Oz, which is, frankly, much more exciting.

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