I found myself continually flitting in and out of Central London today. I went in to do some errands, then came back to Highgate and then went back in again to meet Nathan. In the meantime my debit card stopped working. I stood for several minutes at the ticket machines in Highgate station trying to top up my Oyster card with absolutely no luck. I wasn't overly concerned. I knew there was money in the account and merely assumed the card was getting a little decrepit. The signature strip has entirely rubbed off and bits of the plastic coating are chipping away. It actually expires next month. This will be the first card I've managed to keep until the bitter end! I usually lose them after a year or so...
Anyway, I sauntered into the bank to be told there had actually been an issue with all Visa cards and that no cards had worked between the hours of about 10 and 11, so if anyone else had issues, then you now know why!
En route, and in various cafés around London, I worked up a pitch for Uncle Archie which he thought was very strong. I then continued to sift through the Fleet Singers poems, still a little perplexed as to how to bash them all into a coherent shape. I did, however, discover a rather charming, but utterly crazy poem-filled 1976 documentary about John Betjeman on YouTube, where the poet visits all the locations from his childhood. The piece was made all the more eccentric by Betjeman's decision not to speak in shot. The entire film is done with voice over, with Betjeman, in a curious straw hat, shuffling around in vision. He was wearing particularly clumpy shoes as he walked around the Tate, and I felt incredibly sorry for the other people in the gallery who had to listen to the noise of his walking! It was a treat to see the North London locations (which for him triggered childhood memories) as they looked when the film was shot in the 1970s. Betjeman's London is very much my London. He writes about Kentish Town, Gospel Oak, Highgate and Hampstead Heath and very little at all has changed in these parts since the 70s. In fact, they started flashing up pictures of the area in the Edwardian era, and very little has changed since then too!
This evening we watched the first episode in the new series of Downton Abbey. I'm afraid much of that show drifts in one ear and out the other. I still have very little idea what most of the characters are called, particularly when they're being spoken about with their full title. The plot moves faster than Desperate Housewives, and often requires a piece of information which was provided two seasons ago. I find myself looking at the wall paper in the house, and bang! I've missed a load of really important exposition!
Still, it's become an institution, and of any of you fancy a laugh, get Nathan to do you his impression of Lady Grantham!