This week I am 'on holiday' - which means I'm busier than ever, but mostly in the pursuit of pleasure, relaxation and recreation, which is the best kind of busyness. Yesterday afternoon I found myself at the Tabard in Bedford Park. The interior of this fine pub, dimly lit, lined with gorgeous blue-and-green tiles (double peacock pattern) and plainly carpentered in Arts and Crafts style, is one of the most beautifully designed I have ever seen. There were few customers inside, but perched at the bar was a drunk who was singing, approximately, As Time Goes By and philosophising, equally approximately, about Love and Time to anyone who would listen.
Outside was another amiable drunk, who had taken upon himself meeting and greeting duties, moving from table to table with practised ease. A spry, wiry figure, with a large, lantern-jawed head and a permanent mischievous grin, he looked like a survivor from an end-of-the-pier show. In fact, as he informed me, he had served 29 years in the military, and had been drunk ever since. He appeared to be enjoying life. Pumping my hand repeatedly, he seemed convinced he'd seen me on television. He had not. He assured me I was a remarkably good-looking fellow and that, if I died my hair black, I would be the image of Dean Martin. I would not.
Later, outside Turnham Green Underground station, I spotted the other drunk - the singing one - now back in the guise of a commuter, briefcase in hand, weaving recklessly out into the traffic and heading, presumably, homeward across the common. I hope he made it.
And now I am off on a journey that will take me ultimately to Whitby, by way of Oxfordshire and Derbyshire (and, I hope, the Wirksworth Bookshop) - which means, I fear, no blogging for a few days. Talk quietly among yourselves.