Spring is springing along as usual here in London. It was warmish, we put winter coats away…and then got them out again. It is the beginning of a new term at St.W’s primary and as a volunteer classroom assistant I have been taken to one side and firmly told…please don’t spend too long reading with the children; if they are away from the class for too long, they miss important bits of their lessons. OK. Understood. But…the children want to talk, usually. A few pages into Max’s book, it becomes clear that Wally the woodlouse is painfully shy and scared about everything. Too scared even to go out. What do you think Wally should do about this? I ask Max. Hmmm…says Max…well… he should face his fears! Ooo…that’s an impressive answer I think to myself…have you ever faced your fears Max? Yes! says Max. Wow I say…and how did you do that? Well…says Max…I had to clear all the teddies off my bed…and I can’t go to sleep without them. But, I just did it…except for 2 of them. And was it OK I asked? Yes it was! he says proudly and bounces up the stairs to fetch the next reader. So there you go. Lilia holds her hands over her mouth for a good 20 seconds when I tell her what woodworms do, and she realises that Pegleg Pete the pirate has them in his….pegleg.
Husband and I took a Springtime urban walk (20,000 steps!!) along the New River in north-east London. It was cold and hardly anyone else was out. I hate being cold…but we ended up, (after a really yummy all-day veggie breakfast, including home-made baked beans in a salsa-style sauce), in my teenage haunt: Camden Passage – Islington’s antiques market. When my parents settled in Islington in the 1950s it was down-market and grotty. Now it is very, very hip and expensive. Bearded hipsters abound and we could feel a little old here..if we were inclined to feel a little old…which we are not. Islington has an energetic density and urban intellectual feel which we just don’t much come across in our south London suburb. Husband and I imagined being young students just arriving in vibrant Islington…wouldn’t that be wonderful? All those places, markets, cafes and restaurants to try out…’cept we forgot one crucial point about being a student…no money. As migrants to south London, we have more space, cleaner air, a greater sense of community, easier parking and somewhat cheaper housing. I guess you can’t have everything. Actually you can. Just take a trip up the Northern Line to Islington for those times when you want to rub shoulders with the young trendies and try the latest vegan delicacies. London…everything a short hop away.