It’s nice to get a break from the pub from time-to-time and, with it being the Easter holidays, Ali and I took the opportunity to get a couple of days away from the pub and treat the kids to the sights and sounds of London.
“I can’t believe I’m going to London,” squealed Jacob, as excited as any five-year-old can be and completely missing out on the point that going to London means cramped, sweaty tube trains, bendy busses, pigeons and expensive restaurants.
It also means the congestion charge and so, to avoid having to pay Ken’s tax for entering the city, I set the navigation system in the Jeep to route us around the Congestion Charge zone to our destination. This probably meant that we travelled thirty miles further, paid more in petrol and polluted the planet more than if we’d driven right through the centre of town, but at least we didn’t pay the congestion charge itself.
We stayed at the Copthorne Hotel attached to Chelsea Football Club, which is apparently an internationally famous club owned by a rich Russian and where men kick a ball backwards and forwards, every now and then hugging each other when they do something clever with it. I didn’t see any of the football ground. Nor did I see any renowned footballers, but there were a lot of expensive cars lying about and a tour bus full of Japanese children turned up to have a look around while we were there. I thought about signing autographs, but Ali told me that they might actually realise I’m not famous.
After marching the boys from London tourist site to London tourist site and promising Jacob that we’d go and have tea with the Queen, yesterday was spent at the National Science Museum. You have to be grateful that this place is free to get in to because once you’ve paid the £31.50 for all of us to get into an Imax 3D movie about dinosaurs (which Malachy then threw a wobbly about and ran out of) and the £20.00 for two sandwiches, a couple of Cokes and a children’s meal to share – not to mention having to buy souvenirs from the shop – it’s understandable that you’d be a bit miffed if you’d had to shell out a tenner each to get in, too.
It is, however, a wonderful place to go and look around, but be prepared to be made to feel old by your eight-year-old son. In this day of LCD Hi-Def televisions, Sky + and Sony PSP games machines, it’s understandable that he found the Baird T5 mirror TV a little difficult to comprehend.
That wasn’t the worst, however: there was the Speak & Spell which, when my Dad first bought me one, taught me to spell licorice and color incorrectly, and there was the video game Pong, by Atari, that Ali and I found hilarious whilst MJ simply stood there with one eyebrow arched, muttering how boring it looked. (I got to ten before she did, incidentally.)
What really did it for me was when I proudly took him towards a display and pointed to a Sinclair ZX80. “That,” I said nostalgically, “was my first ever computer. I had one of those when I was eight years old.”
Malachy stared at it for a moment, then looked up at me. “Gosh, it looks rubbish!”