I do not get the opportunity to devour the weekend papers these days, usually still rifling through them on the subsequent Wednesday but this past Saturday, I did.
I read the The Times Magazine from cover to cover and finished my tea and toast with Robert Crampton's Beta Male column. It was a brilliant, witty and unpretentious piece on the simple things in life that he takes great pleasure from. My interpretation of the feature was that as you get older, it is the little things that really matter and ultimately make you happy.
Inspired by Robert here is my list, in no apparent order. By no means exhaustive, it is a good start.
Claiming a seat on the tube on a journey that lasts longer than five minutes and getting lost in the pages of a really great book. Drinking deep, dark rum in an old atmospheric pub. Pouring all the words that swarm around in my head into a blog post and having at least one other person liking aside from my dedicated Mum. Laughing with friends so hard that you get a pain in your stomach and you say through tears 'stop, please, no more' even though you do not really want to stop, ever.
Finding an Evening Standard distributor on a Friday night with an supplementary ES Magazine and reading it all the way home or, even better, on Saturday morning in bed. Running outside with the wind in my face, music in my ears and feeling as free as a bird (and flipping the bird at men who think it is hilarious to honk their horns at women exercising). Pretty much anything by Jack Johnson, despite people saying his music is blithe but dull, especially the line in Flake that says I know she loves the sunrise. No longer sees it with her sleeping eyes which reminds me of endless journeys across New Zealand and listening to Jack while cramming pages of travel diaries with adventures. Big glossy, hot-off-the-press fashion magazines with style and substance that take hours to pour over.
Goats cheese, preferably warm and assembled with roasted root vegetables, although a smattering of beetroot is also a winner. Face painting at festivals. The smell of paint and just-lit matches. Random conversations with strangers on the tube that make you think that maybe it is because you are a Londoner that you love London Town, like the one I had with a lady on the Victoria Line last weekend after we both witnessed a grown man openly picking his nose and examining his findings. 'I see men do it all the time, the worst are the wipers' she said with eyes rolled to heaven as we chatted all the way up the escalators and out the station and said goodbye and I got a really nice warm feeling inside and wondered, why can’t we all just get along?
Being by the British seaside. The first and last page of a new book and that incredible, evocative scent. People watching around Redchurch Street, London E2 - shorts, a My Little Pony jumper, brogues and a bow tie? Why ever not. Singing loudly, with Mariah Carey patented hand gestures despite not possessing a decent singing voice to accompany them. Being with my nephew Freddie, especially when he looks at me pensively with those big blue eyes, holds my hand, and laughs when I sing I Wanna be Like You from The Jungle Book for the thirteenth time.
Football on a Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday; on the TV, coming out of the radio and in my newspaper. Football chants such as 'is there a fire drill, is there a fire drill...' directed at opposing fans who sneak out early when they find themselves a few goals down. Rhubarb and Custard, in real life and boiled sweet form.
Staring at Van Gogh’s The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum and getting lost in the starry background and dreaming of drinking red wine in Arles. Getting uninterrupted sleep and exclaiming 'over eight hours sleep...yes!' in an I'm-really-approaching-my-mid-30s manner. Gravelly, hearty London accents. Walking for hours. The coast and the countryside. Friday post-work drinks - alcohol before 6.00 pm, an amalgamation of departments and when 'I'm just having one' turns into eight. Saturday morning, Saturday lunchtime, Saturday night.
The Specsavers advert when the couple mistakes a nice comfy bench for a roller coaster, due to insufficient eyewear. Silly, but their faces when the photo is taken gets me every time. Choreographed dance routines in music videos - dramatic hand and head movements, fancy footwork and generally showing off alongside a pulsating beat. Going out for dinner - either posh restaurant or the Turkish Okabasi on Bethnal Green Road whose name I will not reveal so you won't take my table.
Receiving handwritten letters, cards, and invitations through the post which you can keep in a big trunk of stuff rather than forward, reply or delete. Getting all dressed up. Tea brewed in a tea pot, drank from a proper big mug. Being cocooned safely in my parent's house and being constantly fed and watered (wined). The cab drivers from Central Cabs in Walthamstow who always wait until you are safely inside and Mick the controller at base who reminds me of my beloved Granddad. Making a list just to take pleasure from crossing things off it. Comedy tube drivers that announce the stations in a song-song way, or wish you a really, really good day and deserve a medal for services to disgruntled commuters who have lost the will to continue onto Finsbury Park. Saying thank you, and getting a heartfelt 'you're welcome' back.
Teenagers giving up their seats for older people. 2-4-1 face wipes and £5 off Boots No 7 vouchers, providing an opportunity to buy superfluous mascara which creates Extreme Length and Extravagant Lashes. Coconut, vanilla and cocoa butter scented body lotion. Essentially smelling like a cake, but a happy cake.
An open weekend with no plans. Poached runny eggs and avocado with crystals of rock salt all heaped onto a hunk of crusty warm granary bread. Watching the last two Sex and the City episodes, An American Girl in Paris (partes un et deux) with that beautiful dusty grey Versace Couture dress, the I am someone who is looking for love. Real Love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live without-each-other love' line and the Carrie/Big trip in the hotel corridor.
Lunchtime drinking. Green and yellow fields flashing past from a train window. Holidays and weekends away, particularly Day Two when you are finally detached from your iPhone, Pad and Pod, London is detoxed from your system and time has no concept. Art postcards. Free entry at Museums. Too many rings worn on your fingers at the same time. Swearing. Cider, just one pint for me please oh go on then, two but that is it. Reading on the sofa, wrapped up in a warm blanket. Silence. Very loud music (especially when it is your own and you have chosen it).
A clean-pyjamas-clean-sheet combo on a Sunday night. A big, enveloping hug that lasts for ages especially if the person is someone you love and smells really nice. Being with a bunch of friends and looking around thinking, bloody hell these people are amazing.
My husband, always.