I have a pang.
I’m not sure if it is a delicate pang, a delicious pang or a nagging pang? It is, just a pang; a pang that returns, every time I return.
I find myself, when I am presented with such a pang; wandering familiar streets. Not quite down by where the old Thames does flow. But still, along a well-worn path. Roads I have walked down with my Nan, with my Mum, with my wife and at least one of my children. They are roads that almost sing to me; songs of my past – of happy times, of festive times.
And yet, still, after all of these years, they throw up something new. Where once I would look for record shops, now I find gelaterie; where once I queued to see Father Christmas, now I duck down a back street for coffee and aperitivo. Where once there was a night club; now but a shell. Neither is better. Both offer wondrous memories – with a possible exception for the now, departed nightclub.
They are memories I wish I could share with Amy; tonight – every night. Memories I will recreate with my children. My London will always be my London, but it will, possibly, only ever be their tourist London. They won’t go to Oxford Street for shopping – surely no one ever really goes to Oxford Street for shopping now. They also won’t go to Piccadilly Circus to hang out; to live a social life in shrapnel and doorways. They can have that in Leeds.
What they will have is their Dad, walking them – always too fast, too far – to the next place that holds a memory. They will weave through Carnaby Street for football boots and Harrington Jackets, and to Regent Street for Christmas Lights and Routemaster Buses. Or they won’t; for they may no longer exist.
Instead they will go to Soho for Ice Cream, Coffee, laughter – our laughter – and memories of their own. I raise a glass of Amaro. No longer to my memories, but to the memories my family, the four of us, will forge together.
Image: What was The End nightclub, Holborn, London.