People sometimes ask me, do I mind being noticed, stopped in the street and spoken to? To be honest, I don’t. I’ve not worked out whether it’s a desperate, narcissistic need for attention or the fact that I grew up in a small village where everyone knows everyone else and stops to speak, so when some stranger does engage with me I get that warm ‘at home’ feeling (though I’m aware it’s a one-way process).
But in the past few days that connection has brought me a measure of joy.
I was sitting in the bar on the Euston-Aviemore sleeper train one night last week. I love that place, especially when the Inverness crew are on – they’re just so friendly and helpful (to everyone). A woman came up to me and asked if I was Joan MacKenzie’s daughter (yes) as her mum and mine were in the WAAFs together. We had a lovely, long conversation (through the mothers’ keeping in touch, she seemed to know more about my family’s movements than I did). The following day I took my mum to her appointment at Inverness Hospital and in the waiting room was approached by a woman who lives very near my auntie and whom I’d not seen for about 45 years. I used to play with her son, who was with her, and whom I would never have recognized had they not collared me. On our way out, I was stopped by a nurse who told me she’s married to a man who used to live about five doors from my childhood home. Ian Garrow! As a teenager he was notorious (and got the blame for any bad things that went on in the neighbourhood), but I thought it might be rude to spill.
Ewan’s never been comfortable about my being stopped. As a 10-year-old he used to feel aggrieved about strangers taking up my time and attention. Now he wreaks his revenge thus. A typical scenario will be that if I’m out with him he’ll clock that someone has spotted me, has told whoever they’re with and the pair will be craning their heads to see. Cue Ewan to position himself bang in front of me (with his back to me), blocking the view. As they move to get a better view, he will perform his counter-moves to keep me hidden from them (which amuses him no end). By this stage it’s slowly dawning on me what’s going on.
My Ewie started on his new path this morning: Day One of Professional Chef’s Diploma at Westminster College. He was very organized and has worked out his route. First stage was to cycle to Highbury tube. Alas, on the return journey, when he went to get his bike all that remained was a vandalized lock lying on the ground. Cue very angry boy (he brought those wheels all the way back from LA and built the bike himself). I took a picture of him leaving earlier, so if anyone sees said bike around London please get in touch!