2022 minus 31: Some wandering, some memories

Posted: 1 December 2021 in 2022 minus, London, politics, wandering
Tags: , , , ,

[As I wrote this piece, I found it harder than I anticipated, and actually was pleased when I stopped writing to take a break and realised I’d said enough; I didn’t want to write any more. How odd.]


As I write this, I’m sitting outside a coffee shop in Charing Cross Road; I’ve been a’wandering in central london this afternoon after taking a PCR test and

Huh, I wonder whether, years from now, I’ll read the foregoing and faintly recall when that was a thing, or whether it’ll be ‘ah yeah, 2021… that was when we realised it was here to stay…

Anyways, yeah, I’m sitting outside a Nero, with a nice hot coffee by my side, processing – that’s a horrible word but it does the trick – the memories of this afternoon.

Or rather, more accurately, the memories from long ago that I’ve recalled this afternoon.

Because, you see, pretty much wherever I’ve wandered this afternoon, I’ve been before. And not in the ‘Oh, I remember this, I’ve walked this before‘ way. Neither the ‘Oh yeah, I walked past here last week‘ way.

No, more like the ‘huh, I spent a chunk of my life walking down this road every day for years‘ way, and ‘oh blimey, I remember getting drunk in this pub with [comics person] and [comics person]‘ way, and the ‘oh, right… yeah, I remember this because this happened, when I was in the process of cracking up…‘ way.

So, not entirely wholly pleasant memories… but not entirely wholly unpleasant either. And if that’s not a decent summing up of any year, or any period of time longer than a few days, I don’t know what is.

But here are three places I walked past or into which provoked some memories.

Denmark Street
For years, long before it moved into a huge place, Denmark Street was the home of Forbidden Planet comic shop.

Jasper Carrott used to have a line about why Brits feel a sense of deja vu when visiting New York for the first time: because they’ve seen it on telly so many times, it feels familiar in a lot of ways. Well, when I first moved to london, and walked into the place, it was the same feeling. Because I’d seen the comics shop depicted in several comics stories over the years.

But what was different, I recall, from the depictions was the people. Inter stories, they’d never easily been in the background, or there as comic relief. The main stories usually involved one hero or another being in a fight in central london and crashing through the window of Forbidden Planet. Whereas when I first visited the shop, what struck me was how nice the people were who were running it; they positively welcomed everyone who walked into the place, were warm and friendly and… well, nice.

(As a general rule of thumb, by the way, that’s what I’ve found with most comics shops and most of the people who work in them. It’s not a hard rule; sometimes you come across an idiot, or someone who views customers as a necessary evil, but on the whole, yeah, I’ve encountered nice people in comics shops.)

But as I walked through Denmark Street and up towards Shaftesbury Avenue and the bigger, Forbidden Planet ‘mega shop’, I felt a tiny bit of sadness for the shop that once was but is no more.

Percy Street
When I was at work, my local coffee shop was on the corner of Percy Street and Charlotte Street; the coffee shop is no longer there, and nor is anything else other than an empty building. But while I was hit by any number of memories while I was walking past it today, one very pleasant indeed hit me.

It was early 2010, and I’d wandered over for a coffee and a break from work, which was – I recall – rough at the time. I just wanted to turn my mind off for a bit and read a book for an hour before returning. I got my coffee, sat down outside, and after a few minutes, I noticed someone had sat at the next table. I glanced over and managed to retain my composure as I realised, sitting next to me, was Tom Baker.

Years earlier, while working as an entertainment accountant, my then boss had tutored me on how to deal with such circumstances. First off, when introducing yourself call them by Mr/Ms [surname], apologise for bothering them, and say that you know that they’re very busy (that gives them the chance to agree, and very politely tell you to go away after you’ve said more) then tell them how much you enjoyed their work, and thank them. And then shut up.

All of which I did… at which point, Mr Baker waved off any concern about time or whatever he was doing and we had a gloriously wonderful chat about acting and Doctor Who and humour and radio comedy, and his other work I’d enjoyed over the years.

After about three-quarters of an hour, I glanced at my watch and started to make my excuses. “Oh, do you have to go?” He asked. Now, I was financial director of the company, so no I didn’t. Not quite then. So I said so… and about 45 minutes after that I strolled into my office, ready for the rest of the day.

A lovely, totally unexpected, meeting that was genuinely unreservedly lovely.

Newman Street
Yeah, a biggie. I walked past where I used to work, where I was working when my brain and mind went a bit… gaga (to use the technical, medical, expression.)

Of course, according to the one psych I actually liked and got on with, it had been going gaga for a long time before the 12 years I spent working there. The building may still be there – it is – but the company moved elsewhere some years ago, and indeed, to my surprise, I found that they shuttered the channel in the UK last year.

I’ve walked past the place a few times over the years; I’ve no idea what triggered so many memories today – both good and bad – but for the first time in years, I recalled some stuff as clear as day. Both good stuff and bad. I was honestly shaken a bit by the strength of the memories, and how vivid they were.

I had some recollections that made me smile, genuinely. Some silly stuff, some serious stuff, people I worked with.

And the end of my tenure at the company, which wasn’t let us say under the most ideal of circumstances. And I remembered it in clear, vivid, detail. Every bit of it. And what immediately followed.

Yeah, ok, that was weird and very very not pleasant at all.

And that’s where I’m drawing a line today.

 

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Sixty-one days. Sixty-one posts. One 2022 approaching.


I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of quid every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to the new year. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

Comments
  1. marypicken says:

    All of which feels pretty healthy to me x

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