1am Monday morning
My climber daughter Lily in Australia WhatsAppd me a photo of her about to climb a 400 ft tall vertical rock – I couldn’t see any ropes: I woke up worrying every 20 minutes.
Exhausted, I got out of bed and looked at the photo again and realised Melbourne’s 9 hours ahead – so she had already climbed it when I received it!
On my Vespa at the traffic lights by Lords cricket ground I see a ball of white fluff on the pavement. A man holding a cat carrier is waiting to cross the road.
“Excuse me – I think you’ve dropped your cat” I said pointing to the motionless ball of fluff. He looks at me.. then the ball of fur, then in his cat carrier: the lights change and as I zoom off I realise the ‘kitten’ was a child’s ball of fur that they dangle from their gloves.
I lost my driving licence.
On the evening rush hour Central Line tube heading West from the City:
the train approaches Oxford Circus the young woman who’d been sitting opposite
me stood up leaving her empty plastic bottle of Evian on the seat. I
picked it up and handed it to her.
“I don’t want it.” She said dropping it back on the seat.
“Save the ocean!” I said “”save the fish!.”
“Save what!? What fish!?” She said.”We’re on the tube?!”
“A humpback whale could choke to death on that Evian bottle.” I said.
A humpback whale!? On the Central Line!
“OK – so maybe they use the Jubilee line.” I said “but what about a sardine then? What’s going to happen if an innocent little sardine tries to swallow it?” I said sticking the bottle back into her hand.
“EVIAN IS NAIVE BACKWARDS!” I shouted as she got off as the doors closed.
I like to do my bit to save the planet.
On the TV news a reporter’s asking Trump – moonlighting in his new job of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s PR man – why, with the CIA and every Western Government’ convinced that MBS is guilty of ordering the horrific murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi he doesn’t agree? “Maybe it’s the world that’s to blame.” he says.
“It wasn’t me that strangled my wife your honour – like the president said – it was the world what did it “I’m a victim: sentence the world to life imprisonment …not me!”
Wednesday 4 pm
I’ve just left the dentist when I see a warden standing at the lights – he’s not wearing not the usual blue parking wardens uniform, but a green one.
“New uniforms?” I ask.
“I’m idling.” he says.” “I’m an idling warden”
“That sounds like a good job.” I said. “how idle do you have to be to get the job? Totally idle or just semi- idle?
Is idling the same as dawdling or loitering ?” I ask.
What’s your name ?
“I’m Peter .. very good to meet you Mustafa.”
“Peter – it’s the people who are idling not me. ”
“So they’re now giving tickets to lazy people!?”
“No Peter, not to lazy people! It’s their cars! if the drivers are parked with their engines on they’re idling… and I give them a ticket.”
Saturday 11 am
I’m going to the big match -The Times National Crossword Championships by the Shard.
I’m given a pink wrist band “Why pink?” I ask the security guard
“Did you know that in Victorian times pink was the colour parents dressed boys in ?” he said.
“No, I didn’t know that” I said.
I was here to cheer on my friend Johnny the Crossword King: I assumed there would be hundreds of screaming crossword fans there cheering their favourites on.
Apart from one elderly woman sitting reading a book – I’m the only other person watching 150 middle aged men in grey pullovers bent silently over their desks doing crosswords.
The elderly woman was now asleep I walked across and gave her a nudge “ Excuse me – what time do they finish?” I whispered: she woke up. “Sssh!!!” She said “they can hear you!.”
“It’s your loud ‘sssh’! they’ll hear, not my whisper!” I said.
Johnny didn’t get past the preliminary round – which came as a huge relief: I couldn’t face the idea of sitting in silence for the next four hours.
Afterwards on the way to the pub for lunch I asked him the big question:
“Where were all the women Crossworders?”
“Women don’t do crosswords.” he said.
On my way home riding on my Vespa along Marylebone High Street, I see Mustafa: he waves.
“Keep busy Mustafa” I shout as I rode by.
I got home to find a hand written letter with a second class stamp waiting for me. The rare excitement these days of getting a handwritten letter! Maybe it’s from an old friend? An old girlfriend? An old ex wife? I sat down with a glass of red wine in my armchair by the fireplace and opened it.
Inside was my driving licence.