Sunday, July 13, 2014

a hard day's night

And thus begins year nine. Year NINE. How is it possible? London hasn't changed, though I have. I'm in far better shape and much more attractive and sporty and humble as ever. Oh, and this time I have my 16 year old son with me.

I promised my kids that I would take them with me to London when they turn 16, not really expecting that any of them would turn 16. It's not that I thought they wouldn't live this long, you just never look at your toddler and think one day they'll be taller than you, or eat more than you at a restaurant, or explain the physics behind why my fingers get puffy in London, the way Miles did tonight. It's pretty great, though. Me and my shadow. Strolling down the avenue (in this case, Queen's Gate.)

I won't say much about the flights because even though there are so many fascinating details to flying - stories and tragedies and mini-dramas everywhere - they really aren't that much fun to hear about second hand. Our first flight was cancelled, so we rode in the exit seats on a later flight. Happy surprise! Even though Miles had been on a few planes as a little boy, he couldn't remember them. So this felt like his first time, and he was delighted by the take-off in Salt Lake. I watched an HBO movie called The Girl, about how Hitchcock stalked and was generally creepy to Tippi Hedren, and I was so fascinated by it that I bought the e-book it was based on. I guess I wanted more detail.

We had to rush to make our connecting flight in Dallas (they were paging us over the speakers - first time for that!) but we made it fine. Our bags did not. Unhappy surprise! We managed to eat some chicken curry while wedged amongst our planet's finest folks and pretended to sleep for four or five hours. Once we landed in London the kind gentleman at the British Airways counter gave us hospitality bags and 100£ to cover the hardship of our missing bags, which was spent on The Kensington Creperie, Wagamama's, and some SNOG yogurt. We ate in style today. Happy Surprise!
We stopped briefly at this KFC on Gloucester Road where Miles, at age three, rushed to the bathroom but didn't make it. He wet his pants on a chilly September evening, miles from our hotel. He had way more control today. Our little boy's grown up!

We ambled along the river walk downtown, and the evening was alive with street performers and people rushing to make their evening engagements. While I pointed out venerable sites like the Tate Modern, the OXO Tower (we went up top) and the Globe, Miles was quick to point out the little things I was missing:

The names of the nine muses painted along this back alley

Dirty innuendo on the SNOG bus

An activity that seems both thrilling and cheap for children

Our engagement started at 8:30. We beat the crowds and saw A Hard Day's Night at the British Film Institute. Sitting in plush red seats in a quiet screening room - best way to end the day, and the perfect way to celebrate Miles' Abbey Road vans. The whole thing felt so British and so mod, and the movie is pretty funny and spectacular in pacing, energy and wit. I forgot how entertaining it is - and even better in a restored print on the big screen. Miles laughed and laughed.

Rounding out our welcome to England, Miles wanted to ride home on a double decker bus. So we did that. Front seats, up top. Flying through Knightsbridge and missing a side swipe of everything on the road by a hair's breadth. A thrill ride!