Sometimes family life is very rewarding. A middle class street, houses today worth more than £2.5m,it was in such a street we brought up our children. We moved in l980 before the City juggernaut changed everything, then there was a white collar professional mix-journalists, advertising, design, politics, photography, film editing, fashion, entrepreneurs even teachers unlike today when its is only law or the City.
In 1990 our children were aged around 10 and 8, we had a cocker spaniel, among our neighbours we had friendships with as many as twenty families. We broke bread and bottles together, I organised street ,Boat Race and Boxing Day soccer parties. There was soft ball in the summer. It was Walt Disney with alcohol.
One of the clan was NT. He ran a highly successful design company. He had a charming Asian born wife. His children were gifted and beautiful and won the street party’s talent show. In that year I gave his name to a friend who was starting a high profile, up market management magazine. He got the business, palmed me £500 and took me to my one and only lunch at the Ivy. Star man.
On Friday to test out my dodgy hip I walked the six miles across Richmond Park.I returned by train and there was NT,stylish complete with Panama in the station foyer. I shocked him with my greeting. He had once moved to India, I knew he had a place in Brighton so I asked where he was living in Putney.
He stuttered and could hardly get the words out. We all know what this means. He pointed to his wife at the ticket office. His tell tale grin and his charming nod were there but the words were not. His wife explained that he was suffering an early stage dementia which meant he couldn’t get words out. Not exactly a conservation starter. Now it was my turn to stutter. Somewhere a bell tolled, a tap dripped, a bat flew.
I kissed the lady, grabbed NT by the shoulder and dared to say I was glad it wasn’t me, wished them well and went on my way. Suddenly my hip felt like new. Yesterday we remembered the 600,000 who died in the battle at Passchendael in 1917