15 July 2016

Nothing but time

The US Embassy in London is full of Americans — this goes without saying. I go every two years now with one of my daughters, to have a passport renewed and be reminded, despite all the feelings of familiarity in this country, that we are not in fact British. The Americans in the US Embassy are abrasive in their American politeness. They call you, 'Sir', but in a condescending way. Once, in Japan, when I went to get married, I got scolded for taking an oath while chewing gum. Spit your gum out, Sir. I didn't even realise I was taking an oath.

This time, I was with Mia: Mia who is incredibly grown up provided her mother isn't around. I imagine she will be the one who smokes cigarettes when she gets older, if there are still cigarettes when she is older. She had her baby with her, baby Sky, but I had to watch Sky while she ran off to play in the play area.

London is big if you are a little person, and in all my comings and goings, I've forgotten how your eyes swell when you see any of these things for the first time. Euston Station, and Grosvenor Square. The rush of air in the underground when a train is coming. Sitting on a packed train, your legs dangling off of the seat and your father sat next to you, holding your hand. The crowded pavement and the men sleeping on the stoops of buildings.

We had a muffin together and after the American woman behind the glass shouted instructions at me (Anything you can do to help me, Sir), we went to the toy shop on Regent Street. Floor by floor, we looked at everything together. And then we went to Liberty to look for something for Mummy and then to the M&M store and then pizza for lunch. Mia wanted to look at a fountain, with the horses and then wanted to go back and I said, Yes, look as long as you want, I have nothing but time.