Postcard from London

Postcard 1 from London Dec 2023

Great start to the day with a quick jog to school with Zak and with a parting wave I’m in the bus to the station. First destination is London Bridge, or rather more specifically, King’s.

Whenever I’m at a loose end around London Bridge then Henri’s Deli at King’s is my first choice, If I’m up for a meal then Guys Bar is up there too. The prices are good, even for a Yorkshireman, and the people that work here couldn’t be kinder.

Today’s oat latte and seasonal sandwich are great value and I get to take a few snaps on my way in and out.

So, latte quaffed, I’m back out and through the walkway to the quad for a quick visit to Guys Chappel and a bit of chat with my late and late wife, Linda and late sister, Mary.

I light candles and stare into the flames which frees my mind to drift to the happy family days of our lives. The candle has a hypnotic effect that releases wonderful memories and I’m filled with the warmth of love-filled days together.

The memories are clearly influenced by the time of year and I’m drawn to Christmas 2013 and a day almost this week when we went to London.

We went to the Ritz for tea and Linda was thrilled. I had the Jag at the time and drew up to the front entrance in style. After a quick briefing, the lovely guy in uniform removed his top hat, jumped in the seat I’d just vacated and drove the Jag away for garaging whilst we could relax with High Tea. As the car drew away another Ritz concierge welcomed us into the foyer where coats and outdoor attire disappeared into a room with all kinds of expensive garments all entrusted to the Ritz without reservation.

They had no idea of Linda’s illness so the care and attention wasn’t contrived and they took us to our table that would become laden with wonderful sandwiches,scones and pastries that repopulated themselves when there was any threat of a deficit.

We had photos taken in front of the magnificent Christmas tree and when we were ready, a nod to the concierge resulted in our coats reappearing and the car magicked itself to the front entrance and the keys presented to me with ceremony.

Linda said she felt like a princess and I was proud of her. I knew it had taken a lot out of her and I wasn’t surprised when she asked if we could go home. I drove through the night and we slept for hours when we got back but she talked about it for weeks and I couldn’t have been more proud of my girls for setting it up.

All of this from a flame gently flickering atop a column of wax. It leaves me warm and content. It used to make me sad and sometimes a bit bitter but now I feel privileged for the life I had with her, for the things we did, the family we produced and the love we shared.

I’m drifting in and out of these memories when the sounds of a piano drifts across the nave. It’s not a carol, which is a surprise, it’s the gentle melody of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”. I don’t think the young man who is responsible for the lovely sound is associated with the chapel, he just happened to be passing, and it makes it even better. As I drift back from the reverie of memories I’m treated to a full rendition of “White Christmas“ as his girlfriend begins to sing. You can’t buy moments like this and I sit back in the pew to listen – this is instant Christmas.

As they finish I spot a tiny stack of paper with several pens in a holder. Then I notice a huge knitted stocking around each of the columns. It has lots of deliberate holes and loops that rolled up tiny sheets can be inserted and it dawns on me that it is a tree (or column) of prayers and there are lots of rolled up offerings lodged under the wool.

I add two and feel a connection through the pen, the ink, the paper and the process with my dear wife and sister. In the modern mass in both Catholic and Protestant services they welcome people of all faiths or none and I’m really good with that and feel included.

The girl leaves and the pianist goes on to play some more classical music which I move closer to appreciate and spend the next half hour in a bit of a trance and when I leave I am completely relaxed.

Enjoy the snaps.

Love G x

To be continued…

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