Smeg I miss Michael Palin. There currently seems to be a flurry of travelogues on Sunday evenings: first we get to watch Simon Reeve exploring Russia, which I find quite interesting but which Lyn says is ‘Russia bashing’. However, we then get to watch something I find very strange indeed: The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan seems unable to make it’s mind up to the extent that I find it rather irritating. Ranganathan is followed by a camera crew, as a presenter ordinarily would be; but, at one and the same time, he seems to pretend that he is a naive ingenue separate from the camera crew, while still doing voice-overs. He addresses the camera crew as if he is just some ordinary guy who just happens to have a camera team following him about, and in the next shot we hear him deliver a professional voiceover. The result, I must say, is rather patronising: it feels like Ranganathan is trying to con us. The program is clearly fully planned out with thee presenter at the centre of the team, but it’s as if we’re expected to believe everything on-screen is unplanned and unscripted. Ranganathan is clearly desperate to be presented as a naive wisecracking everyman separate and removed from the camera team he is working with. It is the fact that that is clearly a fiction, and that Ranganathan is a travel show presenter just like any other which I find very odd, and rather condescending.
I can think of no finer name for an artic research vessel than the name of the world’s greatest natural history TV presenter. The RRS Sir David Attenborough was launched in Merseyside today by her illustrious namesake, who said he was honoured that his name was chosen. If you ask me, though, it is the least we can do for the man who, over the last 65 years, has opened everyone’s eyes to so many of nature’s wonders. Mind you, part of me still thinks it would have been cool if they had stuck with the name the public originally suggested: Boaty McBoatface.
Perhaps I should have gone up into London today to join the protest against Trump, but after yesterday’s adventure I rather thought a day at home was in order. From the look of it, there were more than enough people there anyway. As much as I loathe that insult to human civilisation, he does not deserve my afternoon. Besides, lyn and I had a lovely time drinking coffee in the park then going for a stroll by the river – surely that is a much nicer way to spend a few hours than railing against the scumbag the Yanks currently refer to as their president.
I decided to go to Kew today. I had been intending to go for a while, but it seemed such a long way away that I had been putting it off. I really wanted to explore a bit more of the south-westt of the city, though, so today I set off to see if I could get myself to kew and back.
Getting there proved easier than I expected, although it took a while: Jubilee line to Westminster, then the District line. It was all perfectly accessable. I saw a bit of Kew first, popping in to the national archives, which was remarkable in itself. Then, after a short detour, I entered Kew Gardens.
It was magnificent. I found the place fascinating and beautiful in equal parts. The plants were extraordinary,, the architecture amazing. I especially liked the Chinese pagoda. Truth be told, I didn’t have time to explore as thoroughly as I had wanted, and I had to head home all too soon. On the way back I wanted to see if there were any anti-Trump protests at Westminster, but there were none at the time. Now I know how to get there, though, I think I’ll definitely be going back to Kew: I found yet another of London’s jewels today – a place full of beauty and life, which seemed to beg me to explore it more.
I got back from Donno’s funeral quite late and tired last night. It had been a long, hard day. We got to Warrington on Monday afternoon, settled in and had a little look around before going to bed. I honestly think yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life: John and I got to the crematorium slightly late, but walked in to find a chapel full of people, among them Liam and Phil – two of my old classmates; boys, like Lee, I grew up with. For a moment it seemed like the last eight years of life in the capital had just been a happy holiday, and I had returned to a darker, bleaker reality.
Yesterday saw me attend the funeral of someone with one of the most vibrant personalities I’ll ever meet. I spoke briefly to Lee’s mum and dad at the wake after, and my heart almost broke – no parent deserves to go through what they did. Lee was the first person to show me that life was there to be seized. He loved American wrestling and rock music. Truth be told, what happened yesterday has left me feeling bitter, short-tempered and angry: Donno deserved a long, happy life, and the fact that someone so vibrant has been ripped away from all of us seems the very definition of injustice.
This evening finds me in a fairly dark mood, truth be told. Tomorrow morning will see me and John on the train to Warrington for the funeral of Lee Donnelly, one of my oldest and best school friends. I hadn’t seen him for quite some time, but after what happened with Richard eleven years ago, I really wanted to make the effort to go up and say goodbye. That group of friends is nearly all gone now: from ten, there are now only four of us left. The lads I grew up with have all passed away one by one, so that, although I have a new, fascinating life here in London, every now and again my old life catches up with me. Those lads all deserved a life as long and as vibrant as mine: their deaths seem so unjust and unfair. They all relished life, and taught me to never, ever give up. Tuesday sees the funeral of one of my greatest, best friends; a guy who I wanted to introduce to Lyn and Charlotte and all the rest of them one day. The fact that I no longer can makes me want to cry. Frankly, a world without Donno seems very dark and unjust indeed.
I wasn’t very interested in the football today. Barring those marching up at Pride, I must have been the only bloke around not glued to a television screen at four o’clock this afternoon. It was, however, rather interesting to observe events as I made my way through Charlton and Woolwich on the hunt for a new bumbag. Every pub I went passed seemed to be packed; I could hear each one from metres away. And as the afternoon went on, the general atmosphere seemed to get merrier and merrier. When I got to General Gordon Square in woolwich, hundreds of people crowded in front of the big screen there, things were starting to feel like a carnival. I had assumed we would lose today, which is why I chose not to watch it; but if this goes on and England continue to do well, I may be forced to pay more attention.