One of the things I wanted to do after moving back to London was to get a book printed of all of the blog posts I wrote while living in Chicago. It’s partly because of a nagging fear that’s been in the back of my mind since a long-ago conversation in secondary school where Sanna remarked that all of my digital backup stuff was all very well and good while we still have electricity but would suddenly become useless if that ever went away. But mostly it’s because it’s really nice to flick through. If you ever showed up in my blog during those years then you now sit on our coffee table, like it or not. And this is sort of an apology in advance for a post which is a bit of a random summation of the past two weeks. One day these days will be showing up in a sequel book, and I wouldn’t like to forget them.
Last week began with a family outing to Toy Story 4. I still maintain that the ending of Toy Story 3, where a grown-up Andy puts his arm around the shoulders of the mother who’s now shorter than he is, is one of the most emotional pieces of cinema ever made – perhaps because I had just graduated from uni and was sitting next to my own mum at the time. In comparison I didn’t think the new film was quite as good although it was definitely a fun adventure. At times it did seem that they had completely forgotten about making a film for children, although it was genuinely lovely when some of the few kids scattered among the audience did find things for them like mimicking Forky by spontaneously yelling out “Bo!”.
Flush with being back in the land of legalised gambling I briefly considered putting a fiver on England to beat the US in the World Cup semi-final. But I didn’t, and I still have that £5. Nevertheless Randi and I enjoyed watching the rest of the competition (well, obviously Randi would) and it’s cool how widely enjoyed the Women’s World Cup seemed to be. For example, the other (seemingly much less exciting) semi-final was being projected in the background of the pub where Matt, Laura, Caroline and I whiled away many hours after work on Wednesday evening before we all realised it was time to go home. I was very amused to discover that thirtysomething Londoners (that’s who we are now!) who do actually know how to drive end up wanting to retake driving lessons because they feel so out of practice.
We’ve had a couple of great Friday night get-togethers recently too, including with Randi’s colleague Esther and her flatmate Kass and, last night, some Chicago-style pizza with Steve, Simon and Fleur at Japes. We were all a little unclear why this place picked such a British name but it was actually a pretty good and faithful rendition of Chicago-style pizza, although for my own order I sacrificed authenticity for a ‘carbonara’ variant and then got even crazier by adding sweetcorn. This is when you know you’re definitely not in Chicago.
Last weekend I was at the QPCS Summer Festival, bumping into lots of old teachers (about whom it still feels weird to use first names on this blog) and hanging out at the dual-purpose Alumni / Pride stand which was a very “not in my day” moment. Later in the day we migrated even further north to celebrate the annual ‘Roe Green day’ in Josh’s small, cosy, rural village which just happens to be smack-bang in the middle of Kingsbury. (His dad actually showed me aerial photos of Roe Green in the 1920s when it was completely surrounded by fields.) Josh also inducted me into my thirties, not with driving tests but with a plush Vladimir Putin doll and an inspirational Noel Edmonds book about positivity.
From one village to another, I did briefly want to mention the nearby oddity that is Dulwich Village which Randi and I encountered during the first of our new weekend series entitled ‘visit nearby parks and compare them to Brockwell’. (Dulwich Park was nice! Just not quite as nice.) Anyway, while the village is cutesy there was something unsettling about the area, and the discovery that all residents and businesses must pay a forced tribute to a shadowy ‘charity’ which owns the land and disperses funds to local private schools tells you a lot. Tomorrow we’ll be heading in the opposite direction to Tooting Commons which I doubt will raise the same concerns.
Finally, this afternoon I very much enjoyed seeing my first Ibsen play – Rosmersholm – in a new adaptation. Randi and I both suspected that being able to translate a play written in a foreign language does give the director a little extra leeway to make it ‘fit’ for a contemporary audience (although I can’t be sure) but whether that’s true or not it was – even though I feel guilty just using this word – astonishingly ‘relevant’. Maybe one reason why we love so much drama from the nineteenth century is just because so many of the themes of modernity, with its mass politics and mass media, started there. Either way, the performances were absorbing and it’s really great to be getting back into the theatre habit.