If Eastbourne is the place old people go to die, Wimbledon is the place middle class people go to breed. Like my parents. And my friend S*** (two children) who I met earlier this week.
Unfortunately because of the booming baby population she has to move to Epsom because they can't get their kids into either of the schools just around the corner, both C of E church schools, because they aren't religious. I think that's dreadful. Apparently church schools are now all powerful and demand that people attend church and do volunteering if their children are to get in. I suppose the going to church bit is fair enough, except that they get 50% state funding and there's no school place for my mate's child.
I am amazed how I am back and immediately step into the old ways. I potter around, visiting the same people, shopping in the same shops. Of course there are changes. Wimbledon seems to be getting posher each time I come back, as though the village is seeping down the hill.
I go to the theatre and in the daytimes I meet up with friends. I am able to do this because they (almost) all have small children. (The DFP can't come because of work, but this is not a schedule that the DFP would enjoy so it's just as well I'm travelling solo.)
On Sunday I went to the soft play centre in Raynes Park (the horror) with A***** (two children) who thought she had escaped from Wimbledon but has been sucked back in.
On Tuesday I went round to S***'s (two children) house and we talked non stop for four hours. Soon I will meet up with P*** (five children), J**** (two children – twins) and hopefully with G***** (two children). I probably won't be able to make it down to Warwickshire to see M*** (one child) but I am going up to see my brother in Scotland (three children) and my old friends H**** (three children) and M***** (three children) will come and meet me there.
A few years ago they would all have been at work during the day, so this does well for my holiday plans. Though some are starting to go back to work, which won't work well for my holidays at all. The arty types (largely no children, yet) I have to see in the evenings because they are busy working during the days.
I've had a wonderful run of theatre. I can recommend 'The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-time', 'Jumpers for Goalposts' and 'The Elephantom' and, if you haven't seen a Punchdrunk show before and are feeling flush, 'The Drowned Man' is worth a visit.
I find it very emotional being back. Seeing people I love and miss, hearing the big things which don't travel well, and small things which don't either.
I realise I miss the quality of the light. The variations you don't get in Singapore. Life here altogether seems more piquant, in good ways and bad. Walking home from the theatre on Tuesday night I looked down onto Villiars street from the walkway onto the Hungerford footbridge. Police cars lined the street and a man with a bloodied nose was being held in a doorway by two police, garbling about not wanting to fight anyone. When I reached Waterloo it was swaying with festive drunkards.
Now I'm on the train to Scotland with the countryside tumbling beautifully past the window and plenty of layers packed. It's hard to put into words what these trips mean for me. Suffice to say they are too infrequent and very important for my well-being.
The new job, which I am a couple of months into and loving, means I will be in Singapore for at least another couple of years. But the years slip by quickly in seasonless Singapore. In the meantime I must make sure that I come back often.