Back in SE23…

Amber and Millie at Forest Hill station
At Forest Hill station with flowers in our hair

We still have an NHS dentist, you know (such is my respect and admiration for the NHS I turned the chance for private dental care at work).  But finding an NHS dentist in London isn’t so easy, which is why we still make a six-monthly pilgrimage to our old “manor” of SE23 – specifically, Forest Hill, to visit the dentist there.

Amber never lived in Forest Hill so she has no connection to the place; and Millie, despite being born there, doesn’t remember it, as we moved out to Bexley when she was just two.

The Lovely Melanie and I both have fond memories of the place, however – both because it was where we owned our first home and also because it’s where we had our last morsel of freedom before the girls arrived.  We loved our little flat at 22c Brockley Rise – we only left because Millie was coming and the flat was a one-bedroom flat.  If we hadn’t had Millie we might still be there now.

And compared to Bexley Forest Hill still looks remarkably cosmopolitan – something that may not be immediately obvious to its residents, but to a visitor from another planet (i.e., Bexley) the change is obvious.

It’s a bit grimy but there are people walking about (not everybody drives the ten yards to the local shop).  It’s more “distributed – amenities are not solely concentrated in a “shopping centre”.  It’s more varied (1) – not every shop is part of a national chain.  It’s more varied (2) – the mix of ethnicities on display would annoy any BNP supporter (of which, Bexley has its fair share).  And it’s a Labour ward – in fact, some of it is actively Green (Bexley’s Green Party is, effectively, me).

After the dentist – where everyone’s teeth were fine, but Millie got a bit upset when the dentist tried to give her teeth a polish – we went to the wonderful and completely free, Horniman Museum.

We went mainly because we’d come all that way and it seemed a bit of a waste to go straight home after our teeth have been sorted.  Plus, the Horniman is such a wonderfully and willfully eccentric place: originally built to house the lifetime collection of oddities made by Frederick John Horniman back in Victorian days, it’s had some investment lately and is no longer the moribund paean to taxidermy that it was when the Lovely Melanie and I first visited.

Much like Forest Hill, it’s an odd mix of things, with the shiny “new” struggling to paper over the intriguing character of all the “old”, but not quite succeeding – or at least, not succeeding in the way it may have wanted.  But being all the better for that.

Dead Monkey in the Horniman MuseumSo we went there and poked about for a couple of enjoyable hours.  And I took a picture of a monkey skeleton which I’m considering using as my profile pic on Facebook.  In the picture of the girls at the top of the page they don’t actually have flowers in their hair, they have some remarkably red leaves we found, and which they liked so much they wanted to put them in their hair.  And who am I to deny some small children such a simple pleasure? 🙂

Ahh, listen to me waffling on.  And all because the Lovely Melanie is hogging the TV to watch Strictly Come Dancing downstairs and my plans to watch MicMacs on DVD on the computer have been foiled because MicMacs is a Blu-Ray disc and we only have Blu-Ray downstairs.  Bah!

Wilkinson’s Fantasia

A nice little story from the Lovely Melanie – she took the girls to Bexleyheath for story time at the library (which was itself, I’m told, a wonderful thing).  But they also visited Wilkinson’s there to buy a couple of things.

In a corner of the store Millie saw a witches’ broom that had been left against a wall; interested, she went to touch it…

Whereupon it apparently sprang into life, giving an evil cackle and moving about of its own accord!

It is almost Halloween, and this broom turned out to be one of Wilkinson’s many toys for that – a witches’ broom that, when poked, will move about and cackle like a witch.

The Lovely Melanie says that she was watching Millie as this happened and for just half a second there was real fear in her eyes – until she realised what it was and laughed at the broom and at herself!

Fantasia broom

Amber, of course, would’ve needed a clean pair of pants.  But Millie?  No, she just laughed. 😀

3,809,358,681st!

According to a BBC world population website when I was born, way back in 1972, I was (approximately) the 3,809,358,681st person alive on Earth.

I am sobered by the fact that most of the people I work with are in the four billions.

Just for completeness, the Lovely Melanie was 4,000,688,532nd, Millie 6,506,378,185th and Amber 6,709,452,950th.

Ugh

Ooohh… 😦

Keep Warm With...The Warm DigitsGroggy and bumping into things a lot today.  I went to see Warm Digits play in London’s trendy Hoxton last night (at The Old Blue Last) and they were brilliant – hard to believe that just two people can make such a danceable noise, particularly since one of them was “only” drumming!

On the plus side, the gig was free – which is almost unheard of these days.

On the minus side, we arrived at the Old Blue Last at eight o’clock only to find that the Warm Digits weren’t on until 10.30 – which meant I had to leave before the end to catch my train home.

That two and a half hour wait also explains this morning’s hangover.

Fortunately, it’s half-term, so the girls are with Grandma and Granddad in Hatfield.  This morning would have been grim if I’d been hungover and in charge of little people.

That said, they can’t come home soon enough for me.  Sometimes I enjoy them being away a little bit more than I really should, but this time it’ll be a pleasure to get them back – our house has been a bit too quiet.

A visit to Occupy LSX

Why did I take Millie to the Occupy The London Stock Exchange camp?

A couple of people asked me this while we were there (including the lady who interviewed me for the radio).

Millie drawing banners at Occupy LSXBecause I thought it was important.  Because I want my daughter to know that there are people fighting to save our services and local libraries (which is how I simplistically explained the economic crash: via the closure of our much beloved local library here in Bexley).

I want Millie to know that people are not completely powerless in the face of big government and big business.  That there are many good and decent people who disagree with the policy of taking money from ordinary people (and local library services) and giving it to already-very-rich banks.

Back in the ’90s and early ’00s I was involved in peaceful demos with the likes of Reclaim The Streets and the May Day protests.  If I didn’t have children to look after and was a bit younger you can bet I’d be taking part in the Occupy LSX camp.  The Lovely Melanie might have even joined me – although, we were “kettled” in Oxford Circus for five cold, unpleasant hours one year, for absolutely no reason – an experience that still colours my view of the police in this country and the Lovely Melanie’s view of the wisdom of protesting.

St Paul's Occupy LSX
St Paul's and Occupy LSX

So I wanted to visit the camp to show my support – and for Millie to see that protest is absolutely not something to be afraid of.  In future we want to be sure she knows how to stand up against injustice, lies and political/corporate bullies whenever and wherever she finds them.

Seriously.  I mean every word of this.

And the camp was great – genuinely fantastic, as such things very often are.  I am so glad we took the time and effort to go and see it.  At no point did we feel anything but privileged to be there and be a teeny-tiny wishy-washy part of such a movement.  The atmosphere was wonderfully friendly and open-minded, the people an eclectic mix of young and old, religious and political, beardy and non-beardy.  We spoke with more friendly strangers there in an hour than you normally would in a year anywhere else!

If you get a chance to, I highly recommend popping down to St Paul’s to meet some of the lovely people there and enjoy the friendly and open spirit of the camp.