adventures, mistakes, friends and fun

Yesterday was a very cool day indeed. It was long, hectic, and towards the end a little stressful, but on the whole very cool. It started pleasantly enough, with my shower and shave: Lyn and I had plans, and I wanted to look presentable. Darryl was still in the country, and on Friday we mutually decided to meet again before he went back to Australia. This time, we thought it might be nice to meet up in the centre of the city, so I suggested the south bank. When Dominic our PA came yesterday morning, however, he told us about a gig in the north of London he thought we might like. Given that we were intending to meet Dazz in the afternoon, and Dom said the gig started at about ten in the evening, there was no reason why we couldn’t do both; it would just make for quite a hectic day.

I suppose my first mistake of the day was arranging a time with darryl and not checking whether it was okay with Lyn. I’m not a fan of hanging about, so I agreed to meet Dazz at two. When I told this to Lyn, however, she told me that she wouldn’t be ready, and that four would be better. By then, though, it was too late, but no matter: I’d just go on my own, and she would catch up with us later. I’m now pretty confident using the tube, and thought I could easily get to the rendezvous point at the London eye on my own, so off I went. Lyn advised me to get off at London bridge and then roll from there. This I did, but when I came out of the station I immediately lost my bearings, and, thinking I was the other side of the river for some reason, sped off in the wrong direction. When I eventually found the right way to go, having gone back and forth past the Golden Hind three or four times, I realised London Bridge station was a fair distance from where I was supposed to be, and that it would have been easier to get off at Westminster then simply cross the river. As I rolled up to the eye, about an hour late and with a little less battery than I would have liked, I made a mental note to reprimand Lyn the next time I saw her.

Darryl himself was easy enough to find. I drew my chair up next to him and said hi. He was admiring the view, I think, David his PA close by. I explained that Lyn would be joining us a little later on, and we went to get a coffee. We started chatting, mostly about the cricket; it’s funny how we’ve only met, physically, two or three times, but we’ve been chatting online for years, and share quite a few interests and experiences, so we get on like old friends. As I wrote the other day, I really do admire darryl; he and David both seem very good blokes. Mind you, as we were sitting drinking coffee, I suddenly realised that I was surrounded by Australians, as the couple sitting at the table behind me were also from Australia. Needless to say, this made for some lively debate, me being the only ‘pom’ there.

We sat, talking, for an hour or so, before it was time to go and try to find Lyn. She, too, was rather late, I think as a result of the rain and the fact she may have made the same mistake I did. When she got to us, most of the attractions were closing: I came pretty close to proposing that we find the nearest pub, but I knew that I had quite a long night ahead of us. We ended up sitting, talking and watching the rain on the balcony of the southbank centre. I couldn’t help remarking how pretty the capital looks in the rain: there’s something about London in a steady downpour which just looks right.

The time came, rather too quickly, for Darryl and David to go back to their hotel. As for us, it was time to eat. Time was pressing on, and I reckoned that if w were going to have a chance of getting to the gig in north London, we needed to get a move on. One should, however, always make time for dinner, and we ate in the Italian restaurant in the Southbank centre. The meal was as enjoyable as it was welcome – especially my tiramisu – but it was then that things became a little bit more stressful.

We had been trying to decide the best way to get to our destination near Notting Hill over dinner. There did not seem to be any direct, accessible tube route. We ended up taking quite a convoluted route involving trains and busses. At this point I must say how disappointed as a wheelchair user I am that many, perhaps most, tube stations still aren’t accessible. There are some which claim to be, but when you come to get on the train, the gap between the platform and carriage is so vast that it’s almost impossible for me to board. And, unlike the national railway system, there are no ramps available. It was lucky I was in my old electric wheelchair: as my father sagely explained a few days ago, we bought my new chair at a time when I needed something to go around university campuses in. as a result, unlike my old chair, it’s not intended for long journeys, getting on and off busses and trains. My old one, I realised yesterday, is a bit of an old war horse. In fact, despite going several miles yesterday, it barely lost half it’s battery power.

We eventually got to our destination, a house in what seemed to be a very smart suburb or north-west London, at almost half eleven. I must say that I was rather cranky, wondering where the smeg we were and how we were going to get home at that time of night. We could, however, hear some fantastic tango music coming from within. We went in, only to see a set of stairs. Swearing under my breath, quietly relieved that it was not me who had instigated this debacle, I got out of my chair and climbed up, Lyn being pulled up by Dominic in her manual chair. We got there just as the band was playing their last song. I must say that what I heard sounded excellent, and I was disappointed that we had not had chance to hear more.

Well, what could we then do but start to head home? The pubs were closed by then, and, let me tell you, I could have murdered a beer. We started to look for possible routes, and, irony of ironies, we found a bus running direct to Westminster. Had we known about that bus earlier that night, we would have made the gig easily! I think it was at that point, as we waited for the 53 bus from Westminster to Charlton, that things started to seem quite funny: looking back, it had been a hell of a day, full of mistakes, adventures, and, most of all, great fun.

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