I have to go down to London for a meeting. It is not my favourite place.
Then, to be fair, it is some time since I set foot in the UK capital. Because there have been good reasons not to travel too far.
Anyhow, at the station I find a bench and wait for the train.
But I must look a tad confused. Because as I sit there minding my own business a railway worker approaches with a concerned look on his face.
‘Do you know which one you’re on, pet? And will you need any help with your bag?’
I realise I have become a senior
It is at that moment that I realise I have reached the senior stage in life. It comes to us all, and if it means a bit of kindness from a stranger…
I thank him and say I can manage. This helpful chap, by the way, is a Geordie. If we are allowed to call him by that name these days.
It explains the friendliness. Over the years I have found that folk from the north-east are generally rather jolly souls.
And when it comes to London – well, I have to admit that on arrival the place is not as scary as I remember.
Quieter and calmer
Because it is quieter. And the air seems cleaner. There are fewer cars on the roads, with congestion-charge signs very much in evidence.
Taking the tube also proves a pleasant surprise. Carriages are half empty and there is none of that pushing and shoving on platforms.
The reality is that people are still cocooned in their offices at home. They have not yet returned to their workplaces. Hence a half empty city.
Sunshine and autumn leaves
Indeed, with the sun shining and the trees turning shades of yellow and orange, London is actually rather nice.
I do some strolling in a relatively tourist-free Hyde Park. And discover that I do not have to queue in a café for a tea and a bun.
It will not last. The tourists, the workers, they will be back…
Meanwhile, back at the house…
The MacNaughties, meanwhile, are at home with our daughter – who, when it comes to the canine members of the household, is turning out to be stricter than I am.
Yes, DD has a certain way with doggies. Especially the puppy. Bennie does not run rings round her like he does with me.
I am on the train home when she sends a picture of them and the Chow, all sitting obediently as they wait meekly for a biscuit.
The naughty little Norfolk
That said, I still come back to find that the nine-month naughty Norfolk has pulled all the stuffing from the geriatric cocker’s bed.
He has also ruined the bottom of the kitchen curtains. The ones I had lined and interlined at vast expense.
The moral is: when it comes to kitchen curtains, it is best to go cheap and cheerful.
Moreover, if you have dogs, do avoid full-length drapes. Not least, because it is a real temptation when it comes to cocking a leg or two…