Felt quite like old times.
I left the flat at 9.15 prepared to walk into the centre of London.
I hadn’t banked on the the temperature. I only had on nine items of clothing.
Two socks. Two trainers. One knicker. One trouser. One bra. One t-shirt. I duvet type jacket that leaves goose down on everything. When I take it off it looks like I’ve been plucked.
By the time I reached Battersea Bridge I wished I had opted for four more bits of clothing. One hat, One scarf and two gloves.
The air was sharp, the sky Manhattan blue which matched my finger tips.
Crossing over The Albert bridge I got to thinking how resilient human beings are. When tragedy hits it always feels, looking at it from the outside, that troubles are insurmountable. Who would have thought that London would carry on regardless of the loss of a bridge for instance. And then I thought that most of us are programmed to survive. Death, redundancy, ill health. Most of us really can- and do -soldier on then mop up afterwards.
By the time I got to the Buddha in the Park I was positively freezing but glowing.
Met a woman who was very colourful. Dressed in felt clothes, a long skirt with a hem of appliqued flowers. I remarked on her colourful combo, which couldn’t be reciprocated as all nine items were black or blue. I looked like a bruise. She, did however, like my lipstick which was Chanel, the original red, that I bought years ago.
Over Chelsea Bridge and suddenly I was in Victoria. From the quiet of the park I was surrounded by mobile walkers. By that I dont mean they were ambulatory I mean every one of them was on the telephone. There is something about the shuffling gait of a phone user, unaware of anybody around them, or the loud, insensitive yapping, or the frustrating dance when you are unable to get past them, or the dangerous blindness that overcomes them near traffic lights. It wont be long before we have mobile lanes and handsfree pedestrian walkways.
Then I got to St. James Park. The daffodills have broken through the earth. Little clumps of yellow celandine, tight lipped waiting to burst their buds. Swans, pelicans, geese, pigeons and a beautiful duck with two black stripes converging over his head and a yellow bill to match his webbed feet.
LBC days meant I would have walked though the park towards Trafalgar Square but not today. BBC London beckoned.
So it was up past St. James Palace and onto St James’s Street which feels like a gentleman’s playground. Loads of London’s best known gentlemen’s clubs, exclusive shops and a series of small side streets are heaven to walk past. From cigars to Panama hats. Two eighteenth-century yards survive behind the fancy frontages, Blue Ball Yard, with stables built in 1742 and Pickering Place, with four Georgian brick houses built in1731.
Past Lock & Co Hatters which was founded in 1676 when Charles II was on the throne. I filmed there years ago and had my head fitted with Locks very own hat making machine. It was then that it was revealed that I had a really small head. I knew it then, just as I know it now, there really isn’t anywhere to put any brains in.
Expensive cigar shops, hand made shoe shops, exclusive shirt shops on Jermyn Street with prices to match their heritage.
I am a sucker for craftsmanship but the old git will have to wait for his bespoke brogues until I get a lucrative contract.
Then onto Piccadilly and past The Royal Academy and Burlington Arcade, through onto Regents Street, dodging Japanese tourists and enough traffic wardens to fill the Serengeti Plain. An hour and a bit later I had arrived at Egton House to meet my producer and researcher for the Sunday show.
Couldn’t help thinking that I started on telly at Egg Cup House, was this Egton House to be my last omelette?
I waited at reception, nobody knew me so I could pull up my frock and heat my bum in front of the fire, getting my thighs mottled, only I wasn’t wearing a dress and there was no fire.
I was still freezing.
Given a pass and Esther met me. We walked round to Broadcasting House, then Brock House to have my picture taken for my pass. After much bantering we were allowed up to the ID room where a lad with a flowery tattoo on his right arm snapped me. I looked mad – cold is not conducive to glamour shots – although there are those who use it to enhance certain parts of the female form – not applicable in my case as the icy temperature served only to shrivel everything including my lips.
Then to BH for breakfast with Esther and Ollie, my namesake, and a chat about the programme.
I had my third cup of coffee of the week. After Next Friday’s funeral I can calm down.
Air kissed each other goodbye then I hot-footed it to the tube ok cold-footed it to Oxford Circus. The coffee hadn’t worked its way through. Three stops to Kings Cross, changed to Farringdon and arrived at The Barry’s by 1.00.
Sat with my hands and feet on a radiator until he arrived and then off we went for lunch.
I had a salad, am I mad it was 90 degrees below, he had Spag Bole, then the kid arrived and she had sardines. The smell still lingers on my finger tips.
We three talked about web sites, music, art, life and a lot else besides then they went off to the office.
I turned left out of the caff and JOGGED, yes I will repeat that I JOGGED down hill all the way to Fleet Street. Kept jogging until my blood was flowing and my body felt some kind of warmth. All down hill right through the Aldwych, past Somerset House and over Waterloo bridge.
Lovely, lovely Waterloo Bridge. I am not only in love with Ray Davies for writing the song but I am in love with the view. BBC London is in a prime position, the old mingled with the new chock full of everything I love from books to bowler hats.
Took the little train to Clapham Junction, although they had forgotten to change the announcements so for the entire seven minutes we were being told that we were arriving at Waterloo and would we please mind the gap.
Read the Standard, looked at the pics in the magazine and climbed off the train. A swift walk down Falcon Road, and I do mean swift.
Battersea high Street has Wilf, who stands in a door way. Every time I ask him how he is he always replies – in a thick Jamaican accent –
‘Me cyant complain.’
Into my favourite little West indian shop for two huge avocados, two patties – one meat one veggie – for Gods Gift – and then into the greengrocers next door for three of the healthiest bunches of spinach and spring onions this side of Sarf London.
Back to the flat and there was the old man.
We had a small hug, a wee chat and here I am ready to disrobe and get ready for some candlelit yoga.
But only if I can muster up the courage to go out in the cold again.
It has ben a remarkable day though.
Getting to know a different part of London. And having the energy to walk it.
I have Leslie Jordan on the show on Sunday. He of ‘Will and Grace’ fame. He’s, small, gay and funny who really packs a punch line.
Wake up to me at 9.00 on 94.9 come on you know you want to….
I have to stop now I am falling asleep over my keyboard plus I have to rouse the actor for his evenings perf. I come in he goes out. I go out and he stays in. Maybe that’s how we have lasted 35 years together. Or maybe we are just too darned old to care.
I’ll find out on February 7th. We celebrate 35 years of coral communication…..Sybil always says if the old git had been given a prison sentence for murder he would have been out on parole now.
Cheeky bugger, what does he know?
Everything apparently,so he keeps telling me…..