End of a Notebook

28/12/22 14:44  

Tesco, Highams Park, Costa Coffee Concession.  I have in front of me a cappuccino AND a latte.  Why?  Because sometimes, sometimes, subtle communication doesn’t work the way it’s intended.  I told the barista that I couldn’t decide between one or t’other.  So she made me both.  Which is fine as I have two hours to kill until I pick up the boys with the suitcase for Paris.  Once we’re back at mine, I have approximately 10 hours to ensure everything is hunky dory and we leave.  So, I have to combine their packing with mine – they’re with me for another 2 days upon our return meaning I’ll need clean clothes – and get everyone to sleep, woken up and heading out the door with fully charged technology.  Where my clothes are concerned, it’s 2 pairs of jeans and the trousers I’m travelling in.  Shirts for the evening and t-shirts for the day.  Footwear is probably just going to be my New Balance marathon trainers although I may take my grandad shoes along just in the case – these are Velcro trainers that I bought when I had ligament damage and a balloon foot.  Who would’ve thought that dancing could be so dangerous?  And who would’ve thought that this opening paragraph would’ve been so long?  Not me, that’s for sure! 

I’ve now seven pages left of this notebook.  The third I’ve used; the second in the tricolour trilogy.  This is the white one; A Preamble to The Amble Ramble.  I doubt this will be finished before we leave for tomorrow so I’ll end up taking this and the red notebook with.  Which is fine.  I also doubt that I’ll be writing whilst away.  However, Nev’s got her Kindle (which she probably won’t take) as well as her paperback to read.  The boys have their phones and possibly their Backbone controllers.  I nearly treated myself to a new camera, earlier.  It had Wi-Fi, GPS built in with a 50x optical zoom.  It was reduced owing to it being an end-of-range.  What stopped me?  Two things.  The first was a throwback to the last time I bought a ‘real’ camera.  It was a good 10 years ago, I reckon.  I was off work from being a parking attendant.  Not my choice but I’d been told that I wasn’t allowed to work whilst having a possible concussion.  This was from when a chap came charging down the steps at Liverpool Street station in the City of London, knocking me flying and breaking my glasses.  I forget the year, but it was Aril 1st when it took place.   

I topped up my pens last night.  I say topped up, I don’t actually mean that in the olden sense.  I’m taking 5 fountain pens with me.  The one I’m using is my Cross pen from 15 years ago.  This is the only full-size fountain pen I’m taking.  I have 3 mini Papermates and my nano 3D printed one.  All four of those are taking standard cartridges.  Whereas this Cross is using an adaptor for bottled ink.  I’m also taking my 4-colour BIC, 8 fine Intensity BICs and my refillable Herbin rollerball with a Diabolo Menthe cartridge prepped inside.  I was going to say “inside her” but, for some reason, I feel that this pen is a him.  I’ve actually got a full-size Herbin fountain pen that’s laying empty on the stairs.  She’s been there for a little while.  For unknown reasons, I’ve yet to take her up to my room.  

I’ve packed so many cables for this trip.  Three travel adapters, two Apple Watch cables, a Fitbit one for the boys, a micro-USB, three USB-Cs and around 25 Lightning leads if various lengths.  On top of this, I think I have four power banks plus the newest four that arrived earlier today – they are MagSafe ones to make it easier.  I’ve split the location of the cables between the suitcase and the hand luggage so that we get to charge the iPhones (a mixture of iPhone 12s and iPhone 13 minis) on the Eurostar.  I think I’ll need to do the same with the adapters which have multiple ports available.  I got us a table seat for the way there’s, as well as the return.  Going, I think I have Rory beside me, coming back is Jasper.  Although it may be t’other way round.  Or knowing them, they’ll sit together. 

I treated Nev to a book yesterday.  I was in The Works in Stratford Westfield when I noticed the book she wanted to read.  I nearly bought, but then I suddenly thought it would be nicer if she had it on her Kindle.  So I sent it to her. And because of the price, I treated myself to a copy, too.  There are times when I think I’ve taken on too much at once.  The Paris Running Trilogy is one of those times.  Not the running part, but the financial strain I’ve put myself under.  Another Paris book is another of those times.  I bought The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley.  And I started it last night.  I’m so far impressed by it.  I’m also impressed but the flow of my writing for this entry.  It may have something to do with the coffee.  I’m not a regular person and my physiology is a little different to most.  Whilst I hear of the coffee rush, the kick of caffeine and the buzz from a cup of Java Joe, this has never been the case with me.  All the way back in my college days, I’m talking 30 years ago, 1992-94, I started my coffee drinking.  I’m by no means a coffee fan.  Ask anyone that knows me and they’ll tell you I’m a tea man.  And a dog person.  Coffee somehow relaxes.  It calms the voices in my head and allows the creativity to come through.  During my 30’s, I used to have a Nespresso every so often.  It was never about the taste.  It’s never been about the taste.  It’s the experience.  My Costa coffees are about the creativity.  Or the stillness. 

For an hour and a half, the young man at the table opposite has been talking non-stop.  Slouchy jumper, black spectacles and well-tended beard, along with the choice of vocabulary, give the impression of a well-versed, highly educated socialist.  I don’t really comprehend these types of people – does he being a socialist mean he’s a liberal?  Or a Labour supporter?  I’ve got no idea.  I don’t do politics and I try not to get involved in things I have no control over.  Things like the ambulance driver strikes.  Or the nurse strikes.  The whole Them and Us gets on my goat.  It should simply be Us.  No Them, no Other.  I don’t know if it’s his girlfriend, his mum or a work colleague sat opposite him but she appears, in her black jumper, skirt and coat, to be as bored of him as I am. 

On the table behind her, an elderly lady with a blonde bouffant and red trousers is discussing the advantages of updating her laptop as opposed to purchasing an upgrade.  Her son is advising her in a knowledgeable way and it’s a much nicer two-way conversation than the other table I’m eavesdropping on.  He’s listening, conversing and taking his time to make sure she understands what his views are whilst still allowing her to air her own thoughts.  This is the Highams Park population that I grew up with.  I actually think I used to serve this chap at the turn of the century when I worked in the Wetherspoon’s in Chingford Mount.  I drove through the Mount earlier to get here.  Not strictly true; I wanted to go to the Costa there but I couldn’t find anywhere to park.  So, I came here, instead.  But life is full of patterns as long as you take the time to notice.  My boys are at the schools that I used to attend.  It’s lovely.  Rory’s head of year is a French lady.  She’s asked for a photo of him by the illuminated Eiffel Tower.  This came about (he’s only had one term at the secondary school) as we asked if she wanted anything from France as we were unaware of her plans for the Christmas break.  Not only does it show politeness and courtesy, it also puts him on the map, marks him on the radar.  Now she knows that he’s a good boy and that’s never a bad thing in any organisation.  That’s why I told my boss it’s been a pleasure working under him whilst the company went through a turbulent four months earlier in the year – despite my telling him many times over it was coming. 

This line is purely aesthetic for the notebook.  Last line of the penultimate page. 

Okay, I made it to 7 pages.  And only the cappuccino has been drunk.  I now have a cold latte to attempt to consume.  And just under an hour until I get my boys.  The excitement is starting to brew to boiling point.  If that’s possible.  The ink in the converter is nearly finished and the bearded bore has removed his glasses.  It’s now the turn of the lady to talk non-stop.  The mother and son combo has been replaced by a mother and young daughter and I’m looking forward to finishing this notebook before starting the next one; Désolé, Je Suis Anglais.  Quite literally a dozen lines left now.  I can hear the pressure of the stitches and glue of this final page straining under the weight of my writing.  It’s still held down by the AEiP brown leather notepad holder, but the page is becoming a little stressed at the bottom joint. 

The second reason for not buying the camera was it had no viewfinder. Simply a screen on the back. 

So, for now, from Highams Park, I bid thee à bientôt and I will attempt to write again at least once more before the New Year kicks in. 

I’ll also try to take my fountain pen upstairs with me.  But I doubt it’ll happen.  I’m too excited for Paris with the boys and Nev. 

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