Yesterday was glorious. Not glorious glorious, I didn’t win the lottery, or crowned King having won a competition to find any idiot for the job who is simply marginally less of an idiot than Prince Charles. No, yesterday was just a nice, gentle, unassuming kind of glorious; the kind that makes you sit back and think quite reasonably “that was a good day”. Perhaps I mean good, then, and not glorious at all, but at the moment good is glorious enough for me, this is hardly a golden age of homo sapiens.
For a start the weather was lovely – almost perfectly ‘springy’, with a few unthreatening clouds way beyond reach, a bashful but warming sun and a thoughtful stroke of a breeze. The weather has been frustratingly inconsistent of late. I remember thinking summer had arrived early at the end of February but then we had a second winter and everything just contracted back in. It hasn’t really perked up a whole lot since – yesterday was glowing but it nearly tried to snow this morning, which is just stupid. Still, it was perfect for getting out and so out we got, to meet our lovely little friend from Finchley. We rendezvoused at the very dull sounding ‘Stephen’s House and Garden’, not far from West Hampstead – to date she is the only person I have met from that part of the world that isn’t a dick in some way or another. Should you seek validation for this statement then simply go for a walk on Hampstead Heath at any time of the year; it’s like a particularly productive dick farm, jammy gilet dicks as far as the eye can see, most discussing how lucky they were to buy their three storey townhouse during the last recession or how absolutely tragic the last year has been for the theatre industry.
But this place was different. Suitably far enough from the glare of pretention to not feel suffocated by it. This was for old people and loners and people on the mild end of spectrums and harassed single mothers looking after all of their too many kids: sounds like a recipe for disaster but it was still much better than Hampstead Heath. The house used to belong to Henry ‘Inky’ Stephens, apparently the heir to the Stephens Ink Company (I’m sure that should have meant something to me, but I had to look up more details) and a man with some modest clout in his day, not to mention a generous streak – he left his house to the nation and now it gets used for wedding receptions and mindfulness conferences and other kinds of shit. The gardens were only open for four hours, but that was ok because you could (and I did) run round the perimeter in not much more than five minutes. There was a stale looking pond, a kids playground, a bothy garden and a bench dedicated to Spike Milligan, and yesterday, with the light and the breeze and lack of vast crowds that was more than enough.
Our friend is a fire fighter, is skilled at sign language and has just qualified to be a magistrate and so is officially at least three times more useful to the human race than I am. She seems self driven to a degree that I cannot possibly emulate (even if I tried) and her desire to always be improving herself would be tiresome and irritating were she not such a thoroughly pleasant, kind and warm individual: if she ran the world it would undoubtedly be a better place. Between the three of us we discussed what everyone else is always discussing and then turned to issues such as the justice system and our unfortunate urge to judge people on the tiniest amount of information. This drifted onto the idea that perhaps jury’s might be better to judge if they were only given the facts and not the face, to which I suggested a new court system based on The Masked Singer and called, unimaginatively, The Masked Defendant. Surely it would be quite warming if a defendant came out dressed as a big smiley dragon or a naughty badger with an electronically manipulated voice and then they could be tried purely on the minutiae of the case. The only downside would be the inevitable emotional wreckage and disappointment of finding out that Sausage was a pimp and drug dealer after all, or that Grandfather Clock was a prolific paedophile and far right activist. We also touched on the act of cuckooing, where a drug gang takes over the home of someone vulnerable with mental illness and uses it to operate from. If I ruled the world drug cuckoos would be given a liberal six month suspended sentence and then accidentally fed to starving pigs on their way home.
Fortunately (or unfortunately – you may discuss), I don’t rule the world and we are not drug cuckoos, and so once we had parted company our journey home was pleasantly free of grunters with cutlery. Following a light lunch we drifted into the garden (ours this time) and generally made that a place worth being for the coming summer. This time last year everyone was convinced they were going to become self sufficient by turning their gardens into allotments. Because they then selfishly cleared the shelves of seeds and bulbs and tubers we didn’t bother planting much last spring, but were pleased to learn that it made no difference whatsoever. Our garden is for relaxing first and growing second and so the real pleasure was just in creating a little haven that will only be shattered every time the neighbours open the back door. At least Wifey was very pleased with the sets of solar powered lights I hung along the fence and shed and, hours later when it was dark and cold, we admired flashing away pointlessly from the safety of the kitchen.
Our evening finished with a new documentary about Tina Turner. Turner has always been a mixed bag for me. She was awesome in the first part of her career, but this was regrettably diluted by her super arsehole of a husband, Ike, who, as you probably know, treated her like shit (physically, emotionally, the works) and just wanted to rake in enough money through her to be the king of his own murky little castle. He got (some degree of) his comeuppance when she finally left him, walking away with nothing but her stage name and the talent she had nurtured for setting stage and song on fire; like Rod Stewart, only much, much better. The second, more famous act was her comeback – one she thoroughly deserved – during which she became the thigh crushing, spiky coiffured, gurning sweat-monster that gave us a few gems but also gravelled out shouty 80’s earache lenders like ‘Simply The Best’, which ironically enough was far from it. It didn’t matter though, and my opinion on songs like that is unlikely to stain her reputation or contribution to music in general. I came away with a renewed and strengthened respect for Tina Turner, and though I didn’t appreciate trying to get to sleep last night with her woeful cover of Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’ ticking over in my head I reasoned that after the day I’d had it was a small price to pay. Even better, I barely noticed that it had been Easter Sunday and so had missed Him rising. Again.
G B Hewitt. 05.04.2021