The sound of the builders hammering out an old window sent me scurrying out of my flat today to find a peaceful spot down by the Thames to read a book.
As you can see…
… Richmond Lock is beautiful, and it’s a lovely day (not too hot, with a nice breeze), and before long I’d found a shady bench to sit upon and read and generally chill out. (Of course, the fact I was reading a collection of rather grumpy columns written by Warren Ellis is neither here nor there. I’m sure if it had been raining I’d have felt rather grumpy by osmosis, but not today.)
After an hour or so, an old gent with a dog sat himself beside me and, as you do, we started chatting. Which turned out to be quite tricky, what with his hearing aid and the sound of the planes barrelling over us at a rate of one per minute – and very low, too. He’d lived in Richmond all his life and said he was used to them; I’ve lived here for nearly five years (on and off) and I barely hear them any more, either. Except when speaking to old gents with hearing aids, it would seem.
“Remember Concorde?” I asked, wistfully. “How it used to fly over at 12pm and 6pm every single day, and how you’d have to stop everything you were doing while you waited for it to pass?”
“Oh, I miss Concorde,” he replied, sounding genuinely sad. “She was a beauty. I remember for the Queen’s Jubilee, we were having a street party, and she flew over at 9pm, all lit up… just exquisite, she was. I’ll never forget her.”
And you know what? For some reason, that broke my heart. I hadn’t realised how much I missed that old bird until I saw the loss in his eyes. Unlike the millions of other, anonymous planes that criss-cross the skies above my hometown day after day as they leave or arrive at Heathrow, Concorde had a personality. She was a friend. Sure, she rattled your windows and scared the birds, but she was – as he said – a beauty.
I hope she flies again one day.
I’m back at home now and the builders have finished hammering out windows and are, no doubt, planning to start demolishing walls just as I go to bed. Wouldn’t surprise me. It’s a Saturday today and they started work at 6.45am. I would go downstairs to complain, but – as I discovered when I tried to ask them to keep their eyes out for my missing foster kitty – they speak fluent Polish and not much else. They were very friendly, though, if a little baffled as to why I was showing them a picture of a cat on my phone, pointing out of the window and pretending to cry…