We went to demonstrate against the rigging of the elections in Russia. The demonstration was, for some reason, outside the House of Lords, which of course is untainted by elections rigged or otherwise and none the worse for that, and we got there after the main action was over. The rigging of the elections in Russia is none of my business but it is the business of the better half, and I was there to give moral support. We established that if the White Revolution happened – chance would be a fine thing – it would in our name and then we wandered off into the West End.
Around the National Gallery and north into Soho were literally thousands of people dressed as Father Christmas. Many of them bore cans of lager and were singing tunelessly. Sometimes they would crowd together, taking up the whole of the street, banging on drums and urging on whatever was happening in the centre of the crowd. Occasional glimpses of fleshy pink could be seen through the red, consistent either with consensual though public sex with elves, or, more worryingly, a non-conforming Father Christmas being dismembered.
A young man confided that this was a ‘Santathon’ and that it was for charity.
He spoke quietly and his voice in any event was slurred. Maybe it was ‘Satanthon’.
We walked on into Chinatown and bought sticky rice in lotus leaves. Later, at home in front of the fire, it turned out to contain tasty and quite big bits of chicken.
Some days earlier we went to the Alexander McQueen sample sale. A friend was working there so we got in on the opening morning as VIPs. There are a number of good things about the Alexander McQueen sample sale. There is for instance great camaraderie in the men’s changing room.
It suits you, dear. No, no, it was made for you.
There are alarmingly sample-like samples, garments abandoned with only one sleeve or with buttons but no button-holes. One can imagine the despair with which they were put aside by their creator, never to be taken up again; finally sent (a pause only to attach the all-important Alexander McQueen label) to find their level in the outside world.
I found a pale blue suede cape. (I’m pretty sure that it was a cape and not a coat that had been abandoned before the point of putting sleeves in, though of course one cannot be certain.) It was unutterably beautiful, with its pale blue colour, its ample folds and the heaviness of the leather. I could imagine myself, after the style of the dandies of the 1950s, instructing people not to step on it.
It was also rather expensive. I consulted the better half about possible flexibility in the household budget. She suggested that it was a very good cape but entirely unsuited to the needs of an elderly solicitor, or words to that effect. She was right, of course. So there it stayed. We returned on the Saturday when everything was half price, but it had gone. With pale blue suede capes, as in our personal relations, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
As it turns out, being elderly is a condition that only increases but being a solicitor comes and goes. My being a solicitor depends on two things. One is having a practising certificate from the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the other is having a job. My practising certificate depends, as a result of an exciting new online process introduced by the SRA, on my having an activation code which they are to provide to me. Unfortunately they haven’t, they don’t answer the phone and when I emailed them I got an automated response to the effect that they aimed to answer emails like mine within three weeks. Meanwhile, for one reason and another, I will shortly have no job either.
This is quite exciting but also quite terrifying. I have had being a solicitor as a job for forty years and I have become quite institutionalised. I have no emails except the office emails; I use the office phone and the office document system; my posts to this blog are neatly recorded in the office document system. When it’s cold I rely on the fact that the office central heating works as the one at home may not. I get up at the same time every day and take the shirt from the top of the pile.
Five or so years ago, in anticipation, I gave up buying new suits and new black shoes. The moment has come where this decision is vindicated.
Big changes are ahead.