I was thinking about how life sometimes becomes a series of routines. At this point in my own life, I can probably tell you where I will be at any given hour of any given week. It’s all pinned down quite tight.
What’s more, it sometimes seems that this particular routine that I’m currently in may never-ever change again.
But that’s not right, is it? Everything changes.
If you could look back twenty or thirty years, you would quickly see that the routines of that time also seemed permanent and unchangeable yet they were probably completely and utterly different to the routines of today. No matter how embedded some things seem, they inevitably change.
They all change, over time.
This ‘Routine’ train-of-thought of mine got me into glancing back to my Lots Road days. This is the Lots Road just off the New Kings Road in London, you know the place. Antique auction rooms, huge power station, access into Chelsea Wharf. That one.
I worked down there from around 1985 to 1989, in Number 134. Is that all the length of time I was there, four or five years? It felt like a lifetime.
It was such a great time. I was working with a great bunch of people and we grafted hard and managed to have loads of fun too. It was a routine but it was a good one and, of course, it was a completely different routine to the one I live now. Worlds apart.
One of the best things of the Lots Road Routine was what happened every Friday at 5.30pm. We stopped work and we decamped to the pub on the corner, “The Ferret and Firkin”.
We drifted down there in the current of a colossal ‘Friday Feeling’. Pints of Murphys Stout were ordered (cos the Guinness wasn’t quite up to Irish quality) and, in my case, a huge brown cheese roll was procured as I was never much of a drinker and the roll gave me the small advantage of a little ‘soakage’.
We would just chat then. Laugh and joke and have fun. I would achieve a thirty minute period, about one-and-a-half pints of Murphy’s in, where I was really sharp and fast and funny. I loved that window of opportunity. Then pint number three would arrive from somewhere and the moment was past and it was time for a shuffle down to Fulham Broadway Station and a fuzzy, pleasant ride home on the District Line.
It was the best of times.
I took a virtual stroll down Lots Road via Google Maps a few weeks ago. As with most places, nothing much has changed and yet everything has changed. Cliff Road Studios is still there though it’s a different colour and it looks a bit different from the street. The Ferret and Ferkin is obviously no more either.
It’s funny, though, isn’t it? Whenever I say ‘the best of times’ that other part of the phrase will soon crop up in my head too.
‘The worst of times’.
If I focus on it a little harder than I am inclined to, I can soon see that those Lots Road times were not simply the best of times, they were indeed the worst of times too. In among all the fondly-remembered fun and hard work, there were quite a few awful things. Stress things and pain things and things that can hardly even be written down or spoken out loud.
But that’s what we do with the past, isn’t it? We glance swiftly over our shoulder at it as we rush away from it, mostly choosing to see only what we want to see. We look quickly away again before the detail can coalesce and become too gritty.
Perhaps Lots Road was aptly named. Perhaps, like Lots wife, if I were to stand still now and look back at it for too long, it might turn me to salt.