In fact I’ve been here for 36+ hours now and the jetlag is beginning to kick in. I arrived early at Heathrow yesterday morning and ended up on my friend Helen’s doorstep at the unsociably early hour of 06:25 and she, much to her and her family’s credit, was apparently still delighted to see me! I sailed through yesterday on an adrenalin high and have only come down to earth this evening, feeling a bit nauseous and insulated from the world…
Once Helen and Simon had taken their children to school yesterday and gone to work I went into London (on the basis that if I didn’t move I might fall over and sleep…). How strange it is to be back! It’s like fitting into a well-loved glove; everything is familiar and yet strange. It’s a slightly unbalancing feeling but (perhaps my jetlag is manifesting itself here) I’m not expressing myself very well.
I went first to the British Library and renewed my reader ticket which makes me very happy. As a child growing up the attainment of a reader’s ticket was, for some strange reason, a longed-for pinnacle of achievement. I have no idea why I was so set on the idea but having caught onto it I was delighted that my PhD research meant I was allowed to have one! I think I was a strange child… and no, that isn’t a cue for anyone who knew me to make sarcastic comments. Anyway, renewing the ticket was easy and allowed me time to shop.
First stop was Falkiners to buy paper, and you would have been proud of me. Instead of blowing my holiday money on the first day by purchasing half a shop full of cumbrous, heavy paper I managed to restrain myself and purchased only a dozen sheets! That done, I was able to take the tube from Holborn to Bond Street and visit John Lewis. I failed dismally to find a tie for my dearly beloved husband but I was – and this is a triumph – able to buy a handbag. If you know me well you will have observed that I have spent the last 25 years welded to a rucksack, on the grounds of laziness, practicality and the unreasonable opinion that carrying one makes me look capable and energetic, or something. However, people (friends and that husband I mentioned) have recently commented that I’m now old enough to graduate to a proper bag. I, naturally, insisted that if I had to part with my latest rucksack (which, I realised, is 4 years old) it would have to be for some sort of trophy bag that justified the attendant mental upheaval and so it’s become something of a joke amongst friends. But there I was, in John Lewis’s, when I spotted a display stand of ‘Radley’ bags, which are very English, and a large sign proclaiming an extra 20% off the listed price just for that day. I ask you, what reasonable person could have failed to take advantage of the offer?
So there you go: I’ve been here for less than 48 hours and already blown a load of money!