This was a week for returning to London and I felt a sense of autumn having already arrived. I had been away for a month and it was as if the city was admonishing me, as if it was a way of saying see what you missed, a whole new season is already here, keep up.
The trees in the park are already bowing and billowing in the wind and the leaves are turning. It feels too soon to be autumn in this year that is flying by, but here it is September already with a feeling of returning to the familiar. Yet also there are new things – friends moving to London and new client opportunities. I touch some wood to make it feel real and true.
There is a reunion with the university girls; we lived together down Roseangle and on the Perth Road, lovely street names that make me think of blossom, cobbles, pavements, railings. We laugh at our old creaking flat, the wind that came off the Tay straight through the shutters and the way we would sit in bed with woolly socks and cups of tea. Claire’s apple cup and Fabs’s heart mug. I can still remember the smell of that flat, the photos we had above our beds, the way the kitchen lino was rumpled up after a party. Memories of walking home after nights out – freezing wind on our skin along the long Hawkhill, laughing about the names of boys we haven’t talked about in years.
Al comes for dinner mid-week and we squeeze tight when I meet her outside the Tube station. She brings lovely food and we put it in bowls spread across the table, picking at bits and pieces, finishing eating to chat, then absent-mindedly tearing off rips of bread. I link my arm in hers as we walk back to Aldgate East. I hope so much that she will move to London; she is waiting for confirmation from her job but I don’t let her talk about plans and dreams of her being here.
The year feels as if it is turning. It is the smell in the air – sunshine, chill, blue, russet. It is the open window as I make coffee and the fruit stallholder who I talk to everyday. It is coming down the steps of the gym at only half seven to see it is already dark with the shops already lit up and the homeless man sitting beneath the glow.
After a meeting in Hammersmith in the leafy sunshine, there is a crocodile of schoolchildren, holding hands, grey wool uniforms, peachy cheeks and slapping tarmac. There are three Irish guys on the Tube on the way home with a fiddle, a bodhrán and a wink as I drop a coin in his hat, making me smile.
Up north that weekend I run the Great North Run: thirteen miles in sunshine and rain showers, curving green arches of the Tyne Bridge and streaks of the Red Arrows in the sky. I see friends at the finish line on that blustery wide open stretch of land with Tynemouth gleaming yellow and the sky bright after the rain. There was a rainbow as the Metro stops and starts back to Newcastle.
It was good to sit the next morning in the kitchen with Dad. I am at the table with a cup in my hand and the radio is on, through the window is the white flap of washing on the line. Perched on a stool, Dad plays his guitar, his face concentrating and plain. From the open back door, flies the slip of guitar music into the garden, into the sky.