Between 1995 and 1997 I lived and worked in central London in three homeless hostels run by the Shaftesbury Society. I spent the longest time at Lena Fox House (LFH) on Crimscott Street in Bermondsey and not long after we opened I worked alongside a lovely Welshman called Dave Smith.
We didn’t work long together but our friendship and trust went deep quickly and his is a friendship that I still value today. Two memories stick in my mind about Dave.
I’m back today from a whirlwind tour of three of my closest friends from National Youth Choir of Great Britain (NYCGB) days to Manchester, Wokingham and London.
On Thursday I traveled down to Manchester to see my “gr8 m8” Danny Curtis. Dan’s parents very kindly took us out for dinner in the evening: Italian. (The food, not his parents.)
On Fridaymorning Danny went off to work while I stayed in to watch some DVDs and get some writing done (I’m trying to write another book, you know). In the general absence of suitable-height tables in his house, I found a tallboy (chest of drawers) that was just right to be used as a standing desk. I got about 1,500 words written, which I was pleased about.
On Friday afternoon we drove to Wokingham in Berkshire to stay with Mike and Rachel Jeremiah. How wonderful to see Mike again twice in the same year — I used to live across the road from Mike in 1995 on Camberwell Road, London.
Saturday saw us catch a train into London, amongst some very well-dressed boys and girls heading to Ascot. There we were met by the Revd Jonathan Coore and his youngest son (my godson) who took us to see the parish he is now rector of. This was followed by a drink in a café at the Oxo building on the Thames and a walk back to Waterloo to meet up with another NYCGB contact, Julian, for lunch. Then it was back to Wokingham for an excellent home-made curry beneath an electrical storm.
We left Wokingham at 08:45 this morning and “Emma” (my CoPilot GPS) guided us back to the M4, A404 (trunk road not found!), M40 and M6 to allow me to catch my train from Manchester Piccadilly at 14:16.
At the station I met a friend, Patrick, from Join Me Edinburgh days which was wonderfully random.
As I’d managed to get a really cheap 1st class ticket I rather enjoyed sitting in relative luxury (well, a seat to myself and as much leg-room as I could eat) and get some more writing done, as well as tuck into a new book about how our minds are organised.
All in all, a pretty good few days filled with friends, a little singing and much laughter.
Next weekend I’m going to be singing in a concert in London. (I’m so excited!) It will be the first official meeting of the new National Youth Choirs of Great Britain alumni choir.
The idea is to re-engage with past members of the choir (of which there are well over 1,000), to catch up with one another, make music, and also hopefully raise some money to help existing choir members.
I’ll be tweeting throughout the weekend on @exncygb.
The view from my hotel window in London last week.
Last week, from Sunday to Friday, I was in London on a course: PHP Programming and MySQL for Web Development with StayAhead Training.
The course was a good introduction to PHP and MySQL, and I was the only person on the course (which you’ll know already if you follow my Twitter feed). I’ll reflect more on the course in the next couple of days once I process my thoughts.
It had been my intention to blog while I was away — I even took my webcam — but the hotel didn’t offer free WiFi, which was annoying, and as it turned out I wasn’t around long enough in the evening to make the £2.00 per hour charge worthwhile, as I was catching up with some lovely friends. Many thanks to Steve and Lisa Lawson, Richard Grocock, Mike Jeremiah, Lindsey Dear and Graham Fairbairn for their company, friendship and laughter-making. I love you all!
Today, though, I’m heading off again. This time north, to the other end of the island, to Inverness to catch up with a couple of friends … before they and we have twins in the next few months.
But I’ll leave you with a photo of my favourite street sign from that London visit:
I sent a text to a couple of friends and family to tell them that I was standing on a street called “Little Britain”. My brother ‘won’ as he was the first to reply with the simple text: “Yeah, I know!” Good man!