I came home from work today to find DD lying on the sofa wearing a pair of red swim trunks, a polo shirt and a thin layer of sweat looking like he’d been shored up from the sea. I’ve now left him staring at his Mandarin homework, which forms part of his working day now that he is a full-time language student in preparation for his Beijing posting. I’ve retired with my laptop to the bedroom at the back of our lovely North London flat, whose only drawback is that it is so small it’s possible to extend the hoover to every corner of the house from the plug socket in the kitchen.
Having moaned for weeks over miserable out-of-season autumnal weather, the UK is now melting under Equatorial temperatures in the high twenties. The crowning of Andy Murray at SW19 and Kate Middleton’s exploding bump have ensured us a sequel of “The Patriotic Summer” after the London Olympics last year, and I’m already on my second pair of Topshop sunglasses this season.
This isn’t a great time to be leaving England. I love summertime here, almost as much as I love the spring and the autumn – the joy of every sun beam, the regret of a few drinks too many stretched out on the grass, the hazy recollections of the wonderful day you had as you lie awake in bed thinking it’s time to buy a fan.
Last Sunday night I was doing just that. We had been to a wedding over the weekend – the wedding of one of DD’s childhood friends – that gave me memories I’ll long smile over.
On Friday, the evening before the wedding, we checked in at the Premier Inn in Tonbridge, the less upmarket sibling of Tunbridge Wells. The room had no shampoo but had tea-making facilities, which for DD averted the greater disaster. By 7pm we were sat drinking outside at the Beefeaters opposite the Premier Inn with other friends of the groom, one of whom was called Norm but whose real name was Steve, and another who was called Bazel but whose real name was Martin Jones. We were chuckling in our middle-class way about how we were rather slumming it, drinking at a Beefeaters on a Friday night, when a car drove past and some local lads yelled out, “Beefeater wankers!” We knew then we were at the Savoy Grill of Tonbridge, and sipped our Stella Cidres quietly. Indeed some hours later, a few of the party were demonstrating they weren’t so wankerish by paving the way for a pre-wedding hangover at the local nightclub, Mojo.
The next day seemed to be this year’s hottest day yet, and the wedding guests were treated to a coach ride through the beautiful Kent countryside before spilling out on to a village green by a dainty church. After a quick toast to the groom at the nearby pub, the aptly named Cock Inn, we piled into the church and sat waiting for half an hour as the poor bride and her father were taken by their driver to the wrong St Mary’s. The lovely service survived the vicar’s cheery sermon about how, when the time surely comes that the newlyweds are no longer in love with each other, they should just fake it and carry on, and we were soon happily accommodated at a grand country house, making our way through a generous supply of alcohol and dancing on the lawn by the windows of the disco room, too hot to go inside, as the DJ played on bemused to an empty dance floor.
Inevitably, a few of us ended up at Mojo again.
The following morning, DD and I slowly made our journey back home. The train into London was smooth, but our Tube line’s weekend “part closure” encompassed our entire route across town, so we walked in the midday heat over the Thames to where we thought we could get a bus, misread a bus stop sign and missed a bus, then waited in silence, each reveling in mild inarticulate feelings of guilt. When the bus came I unwisely suggested we sat at the front on the top deck for the view, and there we stewed alive as the heat seared through the windows. Serendipitously, the bus we had chosen dropped us off at the top of our road on the grittier side of Hampstead Heath, and we found someone else to direct our judgement at when we saw a mother let her young boy kick a plastic bottle into the middle of the pavement.
We spent the rest of the day eating pasta then a Chinese takeaway, and watched The African Queen, during which DD got surprisingly indignant at my suggestion that Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn did more than just kiss and embrace on that riverboat.
And so I lay tossing and turning in bed that night, wishing we had a fan – but more strongly wishing that the hot crazy weeks of summer 2013 might give me many more wonderful memories before the time comes to board that Air China flight.
Copyright © 2013 followingdrdippy