I've been running around like a blue-arsed fly all day today. Literally. And rather appropriately, the day started with a run through Highgate and Queen's woods. I've been very good at going to the gym recently and didn't want to fall out of the habit because I'd had a busy weekend.
In the late morning I headed East to Columbia Road for my goddaughter, Deia's birthday party. Our task was to decorate the community centre as a sort of magical grotto, and we did so with huge strips of crepe paper, shiny streamers and lots of glittery stars, which Philippa had home made and varnished with something which made me feel a little high when I sniffed it!
The six year old in me was very pleased with the results of our decorating committee and the party seemed to go extremely well. Children can be rather strange creatures; and it struck me, looking at sixteen six year olds and their associated brothers and sisters, how very much they can be the product of their upbringings. There were the laid-back ones with Mums and Dads wearing sandals and covered in facial hair, the painfully shy ones, who spent the entire party pulled into their mothers' breasts, faces turned away from what was going on in the room, and the ones with food allergies who, dare I say, had parents who seemed emaciated and just that little bit highly strung! Philippa accuses me of being both a child and a parent hater. I think of myself more as an observer! It is lovely to have godchildren, though, because there will always be children in the world whom I'll adore without reservation. (When they become little people that is. I've never seen the point of babies!)
I drove back through the Brick Lane area and was slightly horrified to note an entire lack of "Je Suis Charli" signs in windows, or in fact, any evidence that the large Muslim community in that part of London were as appalled by what has happened in France as one or two Muslim leaders would have us believe. I've always been a great believer in community responsibility. If something odd were happening on the nutty fringes of the gay lobby, I would be the first to stand up and say it wasn't happening in my name. In fact, I'd go out of my way to prove it. It is not enough to angrily stamp one's little feet when one's community is stereotyped by those who don't fully understand it. The Muslim community have a great opportunity here to tackle Islamaphobia head on; to prove that they have as much respect for us as they would like us to have for them. Sadly, I believe the tendency will be for them to retreat into their somewhat insular communities, which itself will fuel more stereotyping.
I hot-footed it from the East End back to Highgate where I met Michelle and Rosie to run through the soprano line for Oranges and Lemons. We sailed through the music. Both were brilliantly well-prepared and their voices blended beautifully.
This evening I met the lovely Josh at Euston train station and the two of us walked through Bloomsbury to the Shaftesbury Theatre where we picked Nathan up, bought chips and then walked through Covent Garden, over Waterloo Bridge and then all the way to London Bridge via Southwark where Tina was celebrating her birthday in the George Inn, an ancient 17th century coaching inn which is tucked away in a courtyard in the metaphorical shadow of The Shard.
We had a lovely chat about Tina's love of the colour red and about the fact that she has over 2000 balls of red yarn. Nathan taught me my fact for the day; that the vaccine for small pox was taken across to South America via a ship load of cow-pox-infected orphan boys. Apparently the only way they could keep the vaccine alive was by continually infecting the children in a sort of cow pox relay. Talk about thinking out of the box!