I had two weeks left in England before my plane left for Hong Kong and way too much to do in such a limited time. Somehow, though, it mainly worked out, though not as expected or hoped for.
The first (though probably not most sensible) priority was to go on another whistle-stop tour of the country and see as many friends and relatives as I could feasibly fit in. I’d already seen a fair few old faces at D&A’s wedding, so the list was reduced a little.
Everything started on the Monday after I got back, conveniently also the day of the Notting Hill carnival. Russ was available and we agreed to meet up at 2pm. Everyone warned me about the traffic, so I gave myself two hours to get into the centre. I was there in half an hour and didn’t even needed to stand on the tube. I was given a map at the exit and found my way through half-empty streets to a junction where I found myself on the main route, then set aside an hour to wander and take photos.
Half an hour seemed like long enough to walk back to the station and find Russ, but for some reason it ended up taking an hour and fifteen minutes. Still, found him in the end. Here he is –
We caught up on the last three and a half years with several beers. The parade was warming down as the sun set and Russ had to get off, so after a long walk, free mangoes and a kickabout we went our separate ways, and I headed up to Shoreditch to try and find Ted & Dennis’s house, where they were having a barbecue. I got there too late to join in with the munching, but met some people, watched Anchorman and watched Ted’s preend attempt to cook some of the most inedible meat I’ve ever seen.
A couple of days later I was off to Brighton for one last look. Duncan was DJing down at Fitzherberts, so I went along to that, met a few people, failed to sell any cigarettes, etc.
Southampton was next on the list. I got there via a National Express coach full of old people and a driver who spent the whole journey making the same joke “bus rules” speech over the tannoy whenever we picked anyone up. You could tell how long people had been on there by whether they laughed politely or grinded their teeth.
I went to find Madskilz as soon as I got into town. He was in the internet cafe he’s now running, and seems to be doing well for himself. I hadn’t seen him for about five years, but he seems about the same, while I’ve aged a good decadesworth. Upstairs from his cafe he rents out a floor to one of the world’s most successful online gaming teams, or whatever they’re called. We hung around there for a while, then went to see Dan in his flat. He’s not doing badly either, though they’re about to turn his block into a homeless hostel. After listening to music, talking, drinking, smoking and all that I went to Madskilz’s house to kip on his couch and woke up a few hours later when his unusual housemate came and hid my hat.
After a bit of munch I got something called a “megatrain” back to London and regrouped myself for the final week.