Friday, 8 June 2007

Yesterday

The day is as still and limpid as a summer holiday; the skyline framed in azure like a painting. Time has slowed down, as it does in the sun, but for us time is running out fast. I set out for Portobello Road in the sunshine, thinking about how short our time here might be. I walk the familiar stretch of pavement, and emerge from shade into sunlight, next to the postbox with flaking paint, its royal crest ringed by black marker-pen tag. Beside my shadow, plant shapes tint the paving stones. I feel the heat on my skin.

A little further on, among tall trees, stands the imposing church, an abandoned street-cleaner’s cart outside. Branches sway in the breeze, mocking its immobility. The bells chime midday as an elderly couple pass by, pushing a shopping-cart effortfully. I move on, past the window of Mario’s shoe repair shop, through which he leers, like a murderous chimney-sweep. Opposite, a couple sit at a table outside the bar, drinking from pint glasses; smiling and talking, just out of earshot. I want to hear what they are saying, to get a shot of youth and certainty. If only for a few strides. On the corner of Portobello Road a black man with greying curls is playing a single steel drum with a removed yet faintly good-natured look. Yesterday… the metal resonates across the street.

Around the corner a man is sitting on a fold-up chair on the pavement in the shadow of a coffee shop, face turned towards the sky. People look as if they’re not quite prepared for the heat and are in hats, coats, t-shirts. Another man sits with his trousers hitched up, facing the road in an aggressive pose. The warmth has quietened the stall-holders, with only the fruit and veg man shouting and cursing as usual. He’s even angrier in the heat.

I’m not half the man I used to be… the drummer drums.

The market twists up and away. I used to push my daughter down this road from her first nursery. I would point out the big brown teapot hanging above the antiques shop. My daughter would marvel. I would laugh. I had already forgotten that. Soon we will forget other things about our lives here.

Oh, I believe in yesterday... beats the metal drum behind me.

24 comments:

@themill said...

Pensive mood today, SAHD? A time of unrest both physically and emotionally, this moving house m'larkey.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I don't think you will forget. Good memories stay with us forever. Crystal x

Elsie Button said...

brilliant! reading this made me remember things that i had forgotten. you took me back to portobello rd for a mintue. lovely.

Stay at home dad said...

Always pensive, @TM! But yes, these things have a big impact...

It's not so much the good memories, CJ, but the little things that I think it is sad to forget.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Elsie. I'm glad! At least it is written down now and I dont need to worry about forgetting it.

mutleythedog said...

Nice writing -rained today though!

Gwen said...

Moving is an emotional time, but hang in there and just think about all the lovely experiences you will have in your new home.

Omega Mum said...

What a lovely, nostalgic post. There should be a word for feeling nostalgic before you've actually left somewhere, but you know what I mean.

Drunk Mummy said...

You might forget - but I bet your daughter will remember the big brown teapot. The only problem is that no-one but you will understand what she is talking about.

dulwichmum said...

I like the sound of where you live now from your post. I love a nice big tea pot, sigh... You seem quite deep in thought. Poor you.

mutterings and meanderings said...

You can do urban edginess as well as pastroral pictures ...

Jan said...

Yep, all the way through this i was humming "Yesterday" and thinking just how Beatles songs have endured...not merely musically but also in our thinking..
Theyre part of my children's world, now part of my grandsons...
And I dont think you ever forget things completely. Your daughter, 40 yrs on, will suddenly hear midday bells and partly remember...Past stuff is always there, tucked away on the shelves in our mind ( a bit cobwebby, yep) but stuff falls off the shelf sometimes or we reach up for it, take a look, a glimpse, evoke a memory...
The older I get, the more I see just how much we store on those shelves!
There's " Baggage", I suppose, but hopefully other stuff crams the shelves too...

Stay at home dad said...

Hello Mutley. Thanks. Sunny here in the afternoon...

Gwen. Will do. As you may be able to tell I actually like pondering morosely..

Thank you OM. I'm sure there is, in German. Good concept. Like it.

DM, I'm thinking I'm not going to forget it now!

Dulwich Mum, lol. Don't worry, it's my natural state.

M&M - there's a juxtaposition in that!

Stay at home dad said...

Jan I think you're right. They have progressed beyond mere songs into being part of the fabric.

Interesting points. I think finding time to freewheel through the memory bank is a necessity.

Snuffleupagus said...

I used to live there and I had forgotten it. Thanks to you, I have remembered it again. Lovely spot.

Stay at home dad said...

Glad to hear it snuffleup. Not only am I preserving my memories but prompting a couple of memories elsewhere too. What a great side effect...

carrie said...

Beautiful. I wish I knew why you were moving, because that place sounds lovely.

Hang in there.

Carrie

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks Carrie. There's a list of things, really. Money, space, garden are all on there...

Bundle said...

Do you drive a prius?

Stay at home dad said...

Yes!

Suffolkmum said...

Lovely and wistful - but you will remember lots,at odd moments. My London life sometimes seems like a dream, and then Im hit by sharp memories and it all seems so real again.

Stay at home dad said...

Interesting Suffolk Mum, and nice to know. Thanks.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

You sound almost melancholy SAHD. Moving is really unsettling, and leaving London is hard...I wasn't prepared for feeling that I was missing out because I wasn't near the smoke anymore.
Pigx

Stay at home dad said...

More refelctive than melancholy I'd say Pig. How you do it I don't know. I don't think I could live overseas again...