I Have a Dream
Bobby: “I have a dream.”
Bertie: “Do you keep it in a jar?”
Bobby: “Not any more. It escaped into reality.”
Bertie: “The grandchildren used to call you BFG (Big Friendly Giant).”
Bobby: “Ah yes. They were lovely times. Do you remember Freddie? My little old lady friend. Back in the early nineties, I became overwhelmed with anxiety. Brought on by redundancy and my first wife doing a runner. I was introduced to Freddie, who was a Methodist preacher. She needed a gardener. I needed help. Basically she became my mentor, therapist, and close friend. We even prayed together when times were hard.
She loved helping people. Including a young lad across the road living in a house with loads of children. From two related families. He was becoming ‘difficult’. Freddie gave him jobs for a few pence. Including helping me in the garden. One day I was up a step ladder cutting back a big spiky Chaenomeles bush. He was down below, with leather gloves on, cutting the branches into smaller pieces to put in dustbins I used to take to the dump. Freddie came out with cold drinks. He and I sat there chatting. I wish I could remember his name. And then he said something I have never forgotten:
‘Do you know what, mate? You are BFG!’
I told Freddie, who told me that he got very little attention in his life due to circumstances. She paid him one pound. I gave him another. He would be in his thirties now. I hope life has treated him well. She and I were friends until her mid nineties and she died. I miss her to this very day, and am really grateful for a friendship that started through GAD and continued right through the years with Diddley. It must be ten years now since she died.”
Bertie: “So what exactly is this dream?”
Bobby: “It’s all connected to lockdown. Back in March 2020, the world changed. Seemingly forever. Possibly for the better. The traffic disappeared. The birds sang. Even the weather celebrated with a glorious spring. Some of us even wondered if we preferred this new restricted life. Avoiding the human race. Anne and Kevin doing all our shopping. A redundant car. Time to walk in the local hills away from humanity.
And then there was Zoom. Al-Anon was transformed by Zoom. Most groups transferred straight away. We kept in touch. Saw each other. Had access to meetings all over London. And, eventually, beyond our shores especially America. Americans came to our meetings. It was a revolution that continues to this day.”
Memories of Pre-Covid
Fellowships like Al-Anon and AA were founded on face to face meetings. He started to think they would never happen again. Tuesday was his favourite day of the week. Travelling by bus and train. Walking the streets of Islington. Spending afternoons alongside the Regents Canal. Café life. Cinemas. St Martin in the Fields.
Sometimes, on lovely days, Queen Mary’s Rose Gardens at Regent’s Park. Even the BFI (British Film Institute) in the evenings. It had all gone. He would never go on a train or a bus again. Never go to London again. Would reorganise his life into what he could feel safe to do. And hope that one day, eventually, possibly years away, they would develop a vaccine.
In the meantime he had a Dream for when the world was safe again.
And now here we are a year later. Triple vaccinated!!!
His first trip on a nearly empty train was by Thameslink to Farringdon. To walk to the Angel for old times sake. He didn’t chance a bus. The Al-Anon faithful were getting twitchy. Zoom had lost its appeal for many. London groups started going back face to face. The Angel suddenly found wonderful new rooms at St Silas Church, Islington.
We were going back face to face. Socially distanced. Hand sanitisers et al. And then he fell over and hurt his knee. There was no way he would miss that first meeting. So he hobbled there with a walking pole. Was forced onto a bus. Mask. Disabled seat. Keep away from me!
A month has passed. Confidence has started to return. Safety is still paramount. He has been to Sutton United, the cinema, the theatre, the cafés. St Martin in the Fields. Kingsway Tram Tunnel. He washes his hands constantly. Knows that he can hang onto the escalator handrail, as there is a hand sanitiser at the top. As there is in his rucksack. It’s not all over by far. No one knows where we will be in years time, but for now we can enjoy today.
The first Tuesday in November arrived. All Souls’ Day. He got the train to Waterloo. Most people still wearing masks. Waited for the 341 bus for Islington, that starts at Waterloo and consequently empty. The sun beamed down and he remembered his dream. For the first time since March 2020, he climbed the stairs and sat in the front seat with a grandstand view.
His dream was very simple. During those dark days in 2020 He dreamt that one day…
Bertie: “But that wasn’t the end of the day was it, Bobby? It’s only fair that our readers try to understand you. You wanted more pictures on the bridge from a bus going the other way. And then decided to get another bus back across the bridge to go to St Martin In the Fields.
The 139 was warm and comfortable. Upstairs again. It was going all the way to Golders Green. And so did you. All afternoon upstairs on a bus. Back across Waterloo Bridge in the dark. A new idea formulating. Our guided countryside walks had proved very popular. How about bus route tours from the upstairs of a bus? Here’’s a few snippets from the top of buses.
From the top of a 341
From the top of a 139
Want to know more? Read this on Ian’s Visits.
Known as the Ladies Bridge. A new bridge was needed to replace the existing bridge that had structural problems. Built and completed during the Second World War with a largely female workforce. In 2016 a celebration was undertaken to Light up the Ladies Bridge.
Starring a beautiful Vivien Leigh and a handsome Robert Taylor. Supposedly a British Army Officer, but very American in voice and uniform. (He bought the film just for this blog). There will be tears…
The Bridge of Sighs by Thomas Hood
Lighting a Candle for Diddley