Bits and Bobs #1 - It’s My Turn
Originally published via my mailing list 15h April 2022. Sign up to the mailing list HERE
*It’s My Turn *
So I’m out, walking with the hissy music, comfy shoes, navy skies and falling winter sun. The Thames tide is washing east, white water, deadly currents carrying London’s filth out towards fading Europe. After six weeks of solitude and suburbs I am lit up by the city, by the bright faces that pass by, by the gaze of young lovers, smiles full of teeth, eyes closed, arm in arm, dizzy with the delight of each other. I’m lit by ratty looking teenagers in scruffy white pumps, side pony tails, underdressed, rosy cheeked and out for trouble and fried chicken. I’m lit by tourists posing by the water, St Pauls sitting stoic behind them, their dark skin sucking up the last of the light, their tongues waggling words I don’t understand. I am lit by African drummers with fat fingers and fire breathers in top hats, the mighty modern towers built for the rich, leaning against the ancient brick of old. As the world rushes past I help a lady down some stairs with a pushchair and at the bottom I smile at her and she smiles back, showing me her two gold teeth and green eyes, and we wish each other well without words and it feels good to help, good to share something real, good to stop time, and, you know, for once it almost feels good to be a human.
Then I pass a glass-fronted restaurant and a wave of sadness hits me in the eyes, down the neck, passing the chest where it stops at stomach. Groups of friends, afternoon drinking, wearing fine wool and laughing across a table filled with cocktail glasses and candles. I’m envious for I cannot drink safely and these days I do not sit around with friends sharing much at all. There is also a large family, grown up kids and mum and dad, chatting over wine, a whole fish and potatoes. There was a time when I did that with my mum and step dad and my sister, eating and drinking well in London’s finest restaurants but those time are gone through divorce and change. We have all changed.
The self pity doesn’t last long, around 80 metres. For I remember that when I drank, I drank alone, with tears and skin burns. I remember that I’m not a son anymore, out with mummy and daddy. I am the dad. Now, it’s my turn to take my own kids to restaurants. It’s my turn to make them laugh and order them food they haven’t had and sneak them beers when they’re under age. It’s my turn to drive them through cities at night with the radio on, singing to songs they’ll always remember me for. It’s my turn to take them to the tower of London and greasy spoons. It’s my turn to teach them to behave well in kebab shops, to teach them to drive, to tie their laces, to kick with both feet, to get over heartbreak safely, how to check second hand records for scratches and to buy them their first leather jacket.
I never walked the city with my real dad. We sat in bedsits getting stoned and pissed. We put bets on in bookies and ate take away curries and we talked about the sweet softness of woman, the best songwriters and the greatest goals that have ever been scored. It’s his birthday today. I’ve been talking to the clouds hoping he can hear me, I’ve been telling him that he’s got a third grandchild on the way and that I’m here in London, recording a new album, of grand ballads and oddball stories and in the morning, after a jog across tower bridge I will catch a boat to Greenwich and play wonky piano with my heart and fingers and I will sing with fire and gravy for it is my time to be alive and it is good.