It's 11pm, and we're at Ali Pali, staring out across the extraordinary panoramic view of London you get from here. It's particularly clear tonight and the lights of London are twinkling like a Christmas tree. The local yoot are out in force. We've noticed this before when coming here at night; the car park tends to attract lots of young couples, mostly Turkish and Greek-looking, who sit in flash cars, and probably make out, although whenever we walk past they seem to be looking rather grumpy. Maybe it's like the old American tradition of "parking" up on hillsides overlooking cities. Or perhaps they're selling drugs. Come to think of it, the place does rather stink of marijuana!
Anyway, we've come here to toast Nathan's sister, who is presently on her way to a wedding chapel somewhere in Las Vegas where she is getting married to Julius. It felt appropriate to head up to the place where we got married ourselves. It's also the place I came with Fiona to release a balloon in memory of her Grandmother on the blustery morning after the London Requiem premier.
When I first moved to London, I lived in a bedsit in Crouch End. It was a little bug-filled attic room at the top of an Edwardian mansion. It didn't have much going for it, except for the fact that you could climb out of the window and sit on a little ledge which had an astonishing view up to Ali Pali. I used to sit there on summer mornings with an orange juice and watch little busses passing in front of the palace on the road where we are currently standing. At the time I thought it was the most beautiful building in London. I still do. I would have hyperventilated, however, if someone had told me I'd be getting married there in twenty years' time... In a blinking musical!
Nathan's family's tradition of toasting each other at set times is a wonderful one. They do it without fail at the start of the Queen's speech on Christmas Day. It simply means that, wherever the clan is in the world, they'll all be thinking of each other and sending love simultaneously. So, it made perfect sense to do it for Sam to wish her a happy, long and loving life with Julius. (PS - she's getting married in a cowboy hat, because... Why the hell not?!)
I am falling hook, line and sinker for Jeremy Corbyn. Everything I read about him which isn't in the right wing, scare-mongering press appeals to me. He's a vegetarian. He's against nuclear weapons. He has a 50/50 male/ female ratio in his shadow cabinet, and, for the first time in my life, I find a leader with a policy on the Arts. And what a policy! Corbyn believes that the Arts are central to the happiness of all British people and that they should be accessible for all. So, on top of everything else, people like me, who have been hammered by every regime since Thatcher, might actually be better off, whilst the wealthy buggers are forced to share a bit of their wealth! It's really interesting to see how the media twists what he, and his shadow cabinet say, however. Head for the original source material and you'll be surprised at how different it is!