Back in 2006, I was living and working in London. I moved in to a flat in Camberwell with my friend Jonny, whom I had met in the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. Jonny was the organist at a church on Vauxhall Bridge Road and inevitably I tagged along and made that my church too.
One summer’s evening as we were walking back from church, we passed the Camberwell Evangelical Church. There was an evening service on as we could hear singing even if we couldn’t clearly see through the windows.
It seemed clear to us that they were doing some renovations as there was a yellow skip outside on the road, stacked high with debris. The skip was also on fire.
Probably like many, I went to sleep the other night with the radio on so that I could follow the progress of the American presidential election through the night. Only, what actually happened was what happens every time I fall asleep with the radio on: I had a restless night’s sleep.
Each time I woke I also reached for my mobile phone which was lying face down on my bedside table, I turned it over, brushed my finger across the fingerprint reader to unlock it and tapped at the BBC News app as my face lit up from its feint glow. One question: who is winning? Please let it be Biden.
Of course, two days later and we’re still waiting.
Every election night I am reminded of that general election night in 1997, the one where Labour overturned the Conservative government and put Tony Blair into Number 10.
It’s 1992, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain are about five weeks into an eight week world tour and we’ve just arrived in Brisbane, on Australia’s east coast.
For most of the tour—don’t ask what happened in Sydney—we were relying on home-stay accommodation with local choirs and churches, mostly. The drill was the same whenever we rolled into a new city: drop off at a church or school, meet our hosts and then head back to theirs to settle in.
My best mate Danny and I were billeted together for the entire tour, so off we headed to our new host’s house in the outskirts of Brisbane.
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.