Out Of Place

I had two experiences this week that, in their contrasting ways, made me feel both good and awkward and almost certainly said more about me than anything else.

Last Friday, I took part in a demonstration outside Parliament. It was on the vexed subject of climate change and was the domain of 20,000 school children out to make a noise about their concerns for their planet’s future.

There is no Planet B

read a poster. I know there are those who think climate change worries are made up conspiracies but, me, I’m a believer. And anyway, that wasn’t, for me the most important part of the day.

Nope it was the fact that there were hundreds, thousands of school age children bunking off school to make a thundering and, frankly mostly incoherent racket. They splashed paint, they climbed on statues and they were seduced to carry self-serving posters from unsanitary left wing cadres like the socialist worker and Marxism today who tend to feed off anything that smacks of anti-government and anarchy. Of course they shouldn’t but sod it, let them. They took part; they made themselves a piece of the political furniture in this country; they stood up for something they believed in. And that made up for the fact that, there I was, a sixty something old geezer mingling with this vibrant youthful mass like I was meant to be there. I felt like I was. It took me back to Uni and after, to the time when I finally bothered. Much later that these youngsters and no less incoherent and unfocused. But despite being utterly out of place, it felt good.

Yesterday the Textiliste and I went to our local cinema where a talk on underground London was to be held, to be given by someone from the Archaeological section of the Museum of London. As we entered the foyer we dodged a phalanx of parked buggies; presumably there was a baby and carer friendly film running in another screen. A smiling woman – who had a small child in one of those wrap round papoose thingies – checked us in and sent us the screen one. I should have guessed then.

We pushed open the door and, well, yes froze. The talk was due in five minutes and the auditorium was two thirds full. And every adult, or couple, had a sprat, an under-two strapped to their fronts, on their laps or rug-ratting the carpet.

We looked at each other; had I been alone I would have scarped then and there but Herself is not so easily put off. She nodded to the woman on the door – blond dribbler on hip – and took a seat. I subsided next to her. The screen made it clear the talk was what we expected and told us the organisers were ‘Babble’. The other seats filled and an awkward man with a mike came on stage and welcomed all these parents and carers out to garner some intellectual stimulation as well as airing their offspring. Babble, it seems, run talks for the newly terrified.

I sank lower. I did a ridiculous thing. I clutched my rucksack (contents: ipad, battery pack, re-usable coffee mug emblazoned with our pets, Sainsbury’s carrier bag and newspaper) to my chest like it was my very own newborn.

I couldn’t have felt more out of place in the woman’s only changing room at the local pool – though at least there I might have been thought of as presenting my gender differently. Here, we, and more to the point, I was inappropriately accessorised.

Surely someone would point, huff, raise a complaint? Of course not. It was great and we were made very welcome. Perhaps they assumed we were on day release or the Textiliste was my carer – that’s happened before, I kid you not. The talk was fascinating: if you dig down to Roman London – some nine metres below where we sit today – there are three black strips: the Blitz, the Great Fire and Boudicca’s burning of Roman London. Maybe that could be the new pond project.

I am very grateful to live in a city that is chock full of both such interesting talks but also events aimed at groups like the newly parented, who might, otherwise be turning to intellectual mush. And, oddly, having some hundred or so small persons in a confined space wasn’t as noisy as might be anticipated. And in future my carer now knows where the changing facilities are if ever she needs to cater for my needs. At least today my incontinence was limited to the verbal sort…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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42 Responses to Out Of Place

  1. trifflepudling says:

    In the days when I was confident of writing a novel, the layers of London were always going to be my structure!
    I bet that was a very interesting talk.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ritu says:

    Sounds like you’ve been experiencing all sorts His Geoffleship!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 😀 Your carer, eh? We need that story!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good on you Geoff. I am so glad the youth of our planet are making waves…

    Liked by 3 people

  5. noelleg44 says:

    Sounds like the layers of London are akin to the layers of Jerusalem – endlessly fascinating to consider. Glad you stuck it out with all the tiny tots in the audience. I’ll bet their Moms loaded them up with milk and planned it for naptime.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I would find this talk interesting too, Geoff, especially the three layers. All the kids, well, such is life.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Erika Kind says:

    Wow, you experienced quite some opposites. I love how the kids step up. There are also demonstrations of school kids in several cities in Austria. Respect!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Elizabeth says:

    That’s a real thing? Taking babies to talks? Crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You are an example to all us approaching dodderydom. There you are, grinning inanely or cowering anxiously, taking part in proffered activities, despite the dribbles and incoherent grunts which may or may not emanate at inappropriate times. Your carer is to be lauded. I am terribly impressed that young mothers are encouraged to not only attend talks that are stimulating or at the least vaguely interesting but also that they are encouraged to bring their babies. I distinctly recall being encouraged to stay at home with my babies and only venture forth if I could be seen at educational events without them. Now there’s a change for the better! Our student population marched that same Friday, but unfortunately an event that should have been on all our lips scarce got one mention in the wake of Christchurch.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have had the caregiver confusion before. Since my spouse is 15 years younger she is naturally taken as the one wishing the old guy would pass. My stumbling out of the passenger side of the car only adds to the image of an incompetent old fart and angelic social worker embarking on a journey to the store, theater, or what have you. “How long have you been caring for him?” is asked when obviously I’m out of earshot. My dear one usually says, “Thirty-five years.” The subject gets dropped fast.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. willowdot21 says:

    Only you could do the babble 🙋

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You can mingle with anyone, it seems

    Liked by 1 person

  13. George says:

    Brilliant. I think it’s always invigorating to step outside your comfort zone. I’m very heartened by the school strikes and demos about climate change. A bit of righteous concern and anger is what we need. Also heard a couple kids interviewed on the radio about it—one from Holland, one from Australia. They were anything but unfocused. I was knocked out by how knowledgeable, passionate and articulate they were.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I feel for you being odd out. I don’t like it either but standing with people making a stand is always a good feeling in the end. Loved the backpack made you feel a bit more secure. Hooray for the young stepping up. Too bad no one is listening. at least not here. 🙂 Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This is wonderful! Gosh you write beautifully. You’ve made me laugh out loud which is quite a rarity. Thank you for making my Tuesday start so well. Katie.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Ahhh, I see now that you have published books! No wonder … yes, I shall reiterate … beautifully written!

    Liked by 1 person

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