In 2006 when I had finished my regular trips to London for my Masters' studies I have to say I felt somewhat deflated. I had enjoyed the early morning dash to the railway station three times a week, and had no fear of the Underground system, despite the July 2005 terrorist bombings. Towards the end of the 2 year course I had also spent 3 months lodging mid-week with my daughter in South London. Mornings then began by me squeezing into a packed commuter 'shuttle' to Victoria Station, then cramming onto an impossibly overflowing platform, and finally shooting across the city to the Mile End Road. My time as a graduate student brought with it access to the British Library amongst many others – Guildhall, St. Paul's, the Royal Society, Senate House etc. In the autumn of 2006 I was wondering if I could face being cut off from such intellectual stimulation.
About a year later I joined the village reading group and began renewing acquaintance with old friends. One of these was a former Primary school headmistress I had known slightly for several years, our youngest children being contemporaries. She is always dashing around, volunteering, taking holidays. Like me she enjoys art and literature and having a good argument about anything. And so began the unholy alliance of the Old Broads, so-called because, as we strode out once from Liverpool Street Station, we passed the sign for Old Broad Street, and could not resist the photo opportunity. The poor man we collared to take our picture must have thought us truly nuts, standing either side of the street name!
Caren Garfen's quilt at the V & A
The Ceremony of the Pyx
Since that day we have visited Goldsmith's Hall for the ceremony of the Pyx, the V & A quilts exhibition, the National Gallery where I tripped up the stone steps and whacked my knee in front of every tourist in London, the Royal Academy to see Treasures from Budapest, sung carols in the Octagon at Queen Mary, snooped around Dickens' House, and come face to face with riot police diverting the public from the recent student protests in Whitehall. We have dined in Paternoster Square, alfresco at Carluccio's in St. Christopher's Place, at Christopher's American Grill in Covent Garden, and at the fabulously mysterious Mint Leaf in the Haymarket. We may be in Trafalgar Square the evening before World Book Night, and we also hope to travel free on our pensioners' Bus Passes to Oxford. Will the Old Broads do it? Watch this space.