Yesterday I did what I always do when I’m in poor spirits. I went to browse in the local charity bookshop. (Peaceful; nice décor; bargains galore.) And then onto Woolworth’s for some Quality Street pick-and-mix. It seemed to do the trick and I wandered home in appreciably higher spirits, chewing a chocolate toffee finger. It was another of those indeterminate days when the weather still wasn’t sure of itself. If anything, the winter chill was ahead on points against the spring sunshine and I was a little uncomfortable in my thin corduroy jacket. But the weak sunlight was pleasant on the eye and enjoying the look of it bouncing around Portobello market I very nearly tripped over a man crouching on the pavement doing something with telephone wires.
It seems at the moment as if the whole area is in the grip of one huge refurbishment. There’s the pub and the closed main road of course. Then there are the basement conversions conveying clods of foul-smelling earth into skips, and the numerous localized utility jobs in progress. I negotiated the excavations and crossed the closed road to my house. When it was closed last year for the first time and before it was dug up, residents traversed to and fro smiling and chatting about the exciting development. There were children on bikes, impromptu games of football. It was a street-party; a mini urban circus. This time they’ve already dug it up and there has been no chance of a repeat. Ah, the good old days.
When I collected my daughter from nursery I knew all was not well as soon as she appeared at the gate. Eyes downcast, she showed no interest in the fact that we were going home on the tube, which she usually loves. I felt her forehead and while not burning it was certainly hot. “I’m tired daddy” she said, quietly, and miserably. I packed her into a taxi and we headed home. Puffy-eyed and downcast she sat watching CBeebies while I fed her Calpol. Through the pain the vital question occurred to her - was she still going to have her playdate tomorrow?