Back to Paddington

Did the day really begin at 4:30 AM? No, the real answer is 4 AM, when I began to worry about getting up at 4:30 AM. Was Jane worrying too? Hard to say. For her the emotions were decidedly mixed. She was heading to Tel Aviv, the start of a 10-day training/pilgrimage sponsored by Grace Cathedral of San Francisco. Anyway, at a staggering hour, there we were up and staggering about our London hotel room. We have been here for five days, after travels about Gloucestershire and Devon. Jane and I are meeting up again in 10 days.

Meanwhile, I face the challenges of life on my own. This is the thing about disability and relationships. The partner is inevitably the carer, the ever available helping hand. From the disabled point of view, this situation is both enormously convenient and seemingly inevitable. In my own case, things keep getting more difficult with age. Planning for a trip, and planning for being alone during part of the trip, is a moving target. I really don’t know what I can do or what I can’t. Or what is safe and what isn’t. Which creates enormous anxiety. The only way to diminish the latter is to suddenly be on one’s own. My current state as of about one hour ago when Jane headed out the door, then took the lift down to Paddington Station…and the train to the airport.

I have been dreading this moment when I am suddenly on my own, fending for myself. But then I tend to dread things. At there is genuine cause for fear. I imagine myself falling on the hotel floor and staying there for an unpleasantly extended period. But in a way this is good. The ability to imagine the dire and plan accordingly seems to be the essence of life with a disability.

My hotel bed is now covered in ropes. That’s right, two of them attached to various bed legs. Why? To compensate for my declining core strength. I grab the rope to pull myself up into a sitting position when I get out of bed. I pull on another rope to get myself positioned at night. And all’s right with the world. Who knows what the hotel maids think? Doubtless that the disabled guy in room 404, and his wife, are up to something quite adventurous.

Meanwhile, nothing like staying in a hotel above a major railway station. Want a toothbrush? Try the station chemist. Missing a belt for your suit? Try the accessory shop in the station…where you can also find a jacket, shirts, whatever. Food? Of course. Rice bowls. Infinite pastries. Coffee endless. And, of course, this morning’s Guardian. There’s a good reason why they call it that. It stands guard. Over everything. Britain’s suicidal withdrawal from Europe. Another school shooting in Texas. The royal wedding. It’s all there and waiting for me, and I am waiting for it. Not to mention caffeine and breakfast.

And before rushing off for the latter, did I mention the band? On Friday evenings the Great Western Railway band assembles by platform seven. Passing commuters can stop and get several minutes of Elgar or Sullivan before catching the train for Swindon. It’s a wonderful institution. Yes, they still exist.

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