It’s funny how time changes your thoughts. Years ago locking up my bike in SoHo with an hour or two to kill would have registered high. But somehow it didn’t.
I hadn’t heard from my brother but felt his approach, at the same time I felt hungry. I walked over Shaftsbury Ave and into China Town. Take away buffet jumped out at me, I filled my foil tin with care, and walked back towards my bike passing an abandoned table which I sat on trying to rekindle my Soho affection feeling strangely anonymous.
Ok food devoured and with still no word from Jamie I head towards SoHo Square and as I enter I begin to warm to my surroundings; backing up the affection I knew I still felt for the Soho that has fascinated me since I was 16.
It was now 5pm, I had watched the table tennis in a daze for a while, approving of the table which I felt gave the square a new New York feel. As I left to head back to my bike and then on to Covent Garden it was alcoholics to serve for the match.
It’s always nice to return to an un stolen bike, I have been lucky, just a front wheel lifted once. I remember staring at the gap where my wheel once was in disbelief.
Turning my bike onto Neal Street I head towards cafe Diana, which I soon realise is closed for what looks like serious reasons?
I sit on the bench, well that’s still there, and try to call my brother with the latest cafe news.
No reply, I ponder on what to do, it’s now 6pm the eagle should be landing.
As I ponder my bench is suddenly under threat from the street. The absence of the open cafe has left it ferrel, and it would seem to have been claimed by the homeless who look at me as if to say, “this is our bench now!”
Saved by a text alert, “running late, Mick had a puncture eta now 6.30-7pm.”
Wicked! I think, well I’m not stopping here and giving up my seat for an urchin, I mount my bike and jockeying for position with the every day pedlars drop down to cross my favourite bridge, sans sunset as tea on the south bank gives me a sudden smile of a something to look forward to.
Writing this in a word doc, not in my usual note section of my ipad. Reason being I”ve left my ipad charger at my Parents.
They haven”t found it yet or my phone would be ringing off the hook as if it”s the most important thing in the world.
My Parents do not like unexpected things in their bagging area. They don”t panic they just have to put it to the top of their agenda.
“Our Paulie left his Ipad charger here last week.” That kind of thing.
The reason I was at my Mum and Dad”s is a long story….
Finding my Inner Tube Part one
On Monday my Brother and our Brother in law Micheal cycled down from Sheffield to London. The idea was that I would cycle into Covent Garden around 6pm to meet them. We would meet at my favourate café, Diana which has a cycle park and benches right outside. Sorted.
By 9.30 am I realized I should really look into buying an inner tube for my bike.
I knew however that I had to wash the pots and more importantly hoover the flat.
Right pots done (hoovering, like spelling mistake more😜) hovering .. done. So jumping into action. I walked down to the landing and after taking the wheel off my upside down dusty bike headed for the cycle shop on Junction Road with a spring in my step coping with a deflated tyre.
Ok, I entered the shop and showed the useless tube to the keen owner, and all was going well until the subject of valves came up. I said “that one” pointing at the sturdy auto valve. I paid and set off for home. Not long now I thought. 18 months is a long time to leave a puncture, but now it will be sorted. My Brother was now chewing at the miles on his Bob Jackson hand made beautiful bike, and I would be soon to join him. As soon as I replace the old punctured tube.
I opend the door of the flat and put the box containing the new tube on the coffee table. Cup of tea first I thought putting the kettle on.
Ah nice cuppa, I thought sitting down and looking at the small hole in my wheel that would only fit the non auto valve!
I looked at my watch, I did for a split second think about getting the bus into town, but this is what Jo said I would end up doing, so digging my heels in:
I headed back to the bike shop on Junction Road as my Brother and Mick closed in on London and the covent garden café.
Ok so now my new iner tube is fitted and Jo as come home.
“I’ve got my tire fixed” I say to the love of my life.
“Thanks for doing the pots” she said “and I hoover’d” I offered.
Jo looked at the half hoover’d floor and asked me to pass her the vacume cleaner..
I started to put up a hoovering defense but it was pointless. I lacked any evidence of a decent vacuuming session.
I tried to explain to her about my inner tube crisis and how valves aren’t all the same and getting it wrong can change your life, but she didn’t seem to understand.
By now the wheel was on the bike and I was itching to ride. But it was only 3.
“I might go” I said, “aren’t you going to wait for Daisy?”Jo said.
“I’ll come with you to pick her up from school” I said pleased with the idea.
“Then I can go from there.”
“I thought you said he was arriving at 6” Jo said correctly.
“He might be earlier” I said, “he was well over half way when he rang at 1 o clock.”
Minutes later I was waiting outside of the school with my bike in one hand and Daisy’s scooter in the other. We waited for Daisy who is always the last to appear from any classroom bar none, and after giving her a cuddle I kissed both of my lovely girls goodbye and mounted my dusty bike. At last.
The bike felt brilliant, it was one of my brothers old bikes, expensive in its day and aluminium light with noticeably top quality gears. Would my brother have anything else?
I cycled through Camden and on towards Euston and then over the Euston road and down Gower Street. My bike was flying although bone shaking over the pot holes. A downfall of aluminium being so rigid. I always cut along Grafton way and cross the Tottenham Court Road to meet Charlotte Street, a hangover from my Loyde Cole days and my affection for the Charlotte street hotel which I wave to as I remember lovely evenings, and cocktails with John P.
Crossing Oxford street I cycle into SoHo Square and attempt to lock my bike, “no room at the bike racks Borris…” I say to myself as I stop my bike at a place on Greek Street which I have to visit whenever I’m in the West End.
I dismount opposite Peter Cooks old club and look at the blue plaque. I think about Peter Cook and smile as I’m locking my bike to a lamp post around the corner.
No idea how I got here and how I came to be
but on days like this when the sun shines through the trees
And when i remember stealing a jacket from another homeless guy
and a stranger pushing small change into my hands
and a lover that I never want to meet
but now we all got older life is testing too
and then I met my wife turned into my life
and quiet now because when life blesses you
there is no time for bragging
My Grandad Adkin, my Mum”s Dad is in an urn on the top of a tall coat closit in the hall way at my parents house.
My Mum seems to like him there.
None of us mind, because we all loved him.
He lived with Mum and Dad before he died.
My Brother was still at home and after bringing his
friends home discovered Eric Grandad in the kitchen,
cooking a whole onion in the microwave dressed only in baggy Y fronts.
Grandad Eric told me tales of war, trying to get back to his regiment after armistice using abandened motorbikes and cars, to travel north through France and giving frightend German soldiers water as they became human beings like him.
Grandad Eric would come camping with us when I was a boy. I remember he was always mending his car.
At family meals Vanetta my sister gets Grandad down sometimes, she put him at the table once, my Mum was fine and we joked.
And we thought of him because we loved him.
I wish I could have taken him to France to visit his fallen friends.
But I think his resting place is fine.