Old injury makes haunting return
The day started badly with an infliction of Taxi Toe.
In short, this is an injury I sustained many years ago on an icy night in Soho after angrily kicking a taxi cab that nearly ran over my wife.
The big toe on my right foot got impacted at the joint and swells up whenever the weather gets cold. It can be quite painful and makes walking difficult.
So it was a minor miracle that I made it to City Hall for a Mayor of London discussion event called ‘Making London More Age-Friendly’.
City Hall – governmental home to the Greater London Authority (GLA) and its parliamentary body the London Assembly – is an impressive bubble building on the south side of the Thames.
Up on the 9th floor a large group from all walks of London life gathered at the invitation of Age UK to chew over plans for how the Mayor’s office can make London more age-friendly.
The tag “age-friendly” is of course code for “old people”, so most of those attending were “seniors”, or from organisations that have contact with people over 60.
The room – with mind-boggling views of Tower Bridge and the shiny glass-and-steel City of London financial citadel – had seven round tables, each representing a policy area such as Culture, Inclusion, Transport, Health & Social Care.
We learned that these are the policy areas used by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and that the GLA is to mirror them in its plans.
We sat at the Transport table and discussed the outcome of some recent fact-finding workshops.
Our job was to prioritise the issues such as Better Bus Travel, Affordability, Communication & Information, and to list any partner organisations that should be included in the GLA forward plan.
On a nearby table was a young woman who was a dead ringer for Saoirse Ronan.
And on the table next to that was a woman who was so Botoxed she looked like a Thunderbird puppet.
Most of the men were just stale and pale.
Before our table started its conversation, some wizened hatchetface barged in, took over the space of a wheelchair user who’d gone to the toilet and gave everyone the witch’s gaze.
During the discussion she continually pointed her bony clawed fingers this way and that. She barked rather than spoke and refused on occasions to accept that what she was saying was just plain wrong. The finger food was beige.
Overall the event was a success, and contrasted dramatically with our next engagement – a journey back in time of around 1200 years to the Guildhall in the ancient City of London.
It took us longer than we imagined to get there because we accidentally boarded a bus going to Shadwell, which was the wrong way.
The Guildhall is the grand home of the the City of London Corporation, the financial enclave’s archaic fat controller and, as it happens, our local council.
We were there to eat more finger food and guzzle wine in a soirée of thanks to those who do voluntary work in and around the City. We were joined by colleagues from the Golden Lane Memory Group.
It was more of a gathering than a meeting, but then a creepy Uriah Heep from the Corporation got hold of a microphone and made the big “Thankyou” speech.
In it he tried to convince us that the Lord Mayor, who could not attend because he was in Dubai “flying the flag” for London business, was himself the most exalted ‘volunteer’ of volunteers. Which of course made us all feel like we’d been touched by the hand of God.
My prosecco went down the wrong way, but I recovered to the gentle sounds of smooth jazz from students at the Guildhall School of Music.
The tenor saxophonist seemed only able to play with her eyes closed, but I guess that’s what jazz musicians do. The drummer looked like he’d just rushed over from his latest appearance on University Challenge
Then it was out, through the splendid Guildhall Art Gallery (great collection, especially the Pre-Raphaelites), and into the arse end of Storm Ciara for a cold walk home.