Sunday, 2 November 2014

More poppies

We're on the tube, heading home from Moorgate Station. An old lady with teeth like tombstones and ludicrously baggy tights is playing recordings of a Pakistani woman singing what sounds like a Pakistani tongue twister on her smart phone. It is loud, and irritating in the extreme. The entire carriage is rolling its collective eyes.

We've just spent a very lovely day with the family which started at Spitalfields Market in the East End. My mother absolutely adores it there. She loves the bustle, and the rows and rows of alternative stalls. I think they remind her a little of the 1970s; those long summer days, which for us seemed to be largely spent on a commune in Bedfordshire. The smell of joss sticks always takes me back to my early childhood, so whenever I'm in the vicinity of hippies, I, too, am engulfed by nostalgia.

We met Brother Edward and Sascha and had lunch in Giraffe, which was rather pleasant. I remembered to tell the waitress to avoid covering everything in rocket. Vegetarian food these days is always bedecked in rocket. It's almost as though the people who serve it think the portions don't look large enough, so take a great big handful of the stuff to justify charging the same price as a meat dish. The problem with rocket is that it's bitter. It overpowers everything else on the plate, which is just insane for lettuce!

From Spitalfields, we walked through the city to the Tower of London, to pay a homage to the 900,000 porcelain poppies nestling in the tower's moat. Neither Nathan, nor the parents had seen them before, and they're certainly proving popular with the general public. So many people are now visiting the site that they've had to introduce a one-way system to the footpaths which snake around the Tower. Huge wooden fences have been put up in certain places to stop people gathering in areas next to busy roads.

The installation - and the way we've taken it to our hearts - certainly makes me feel proud to be British. Everyone there was taking it incredibly seriously and I was deeply moved to see the groups of volunteers who are still planting poppies; a mixture of military types and ordinary people including several children.

We walked back to Liverpool Street via the Monument, which I have promised to visit at some point. I'm told the views from the top are extraordinary. Not epic and spectacular, like the Shard, but surprisingly impressive for just 300 steps! "Tall enough," says my mate Ted.

We had tea in Liverpool Street station, somewhat perturbed by the sight of policemen wandering about with large machine guns. We're told a terrorist attack is imminent, and one assumes it will be nasty when it comes.

This evening is all about snuggling up in front of the telly. Nathan's exhausted and we have to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for tomorrow's Grierson awards!

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