afternoon at the arms

London Southampton Arms 2022 sm

The last sketches from my first trip back to Europe this summer. I’d be back in a month and a bit, with the family, for more London and France. On the Friday, following a Thursday of staying in Burnt Oak and then working remotely in the evening (I say evening, I didn’t actually stop until almost 4am…that’s late even on California time, but there was a deadline), I went to Hampstead and met up with my friend Roshan. We walked about the village and over the Heath, it was a nice day and the views across London were amazing. I really miss London, and this is what I miss. We stopped off at a couple of places to have a cold drink and a sit down, these forty-something-year-old legs need resting more often, and ended up at a pub we’d never been to before, the Southampton Arms, down Parliament Hill / Tufnell Park. It’s a small place, with great music and a good choice of beers. This is the sort of place to spend a warm afternoon. I had to draw it, to catch a bit of the light and the mood. I used to live not too far from this part of London, up in the Highgate area, before moving to America. I often daydream of whether we would still live around there had we stayed in London; it’s so expensive to live there, and we could never earn enough with the sort of jobs we were doing, but you never know. I’ll always be a Londoner, but we will probably never live there again; I guess I’m Californian now. Still it’s nice to visit and see friends and family, while we can. I went back home for dinner with my mum, and that evening also met up with another friend James down in the Angel for an overdue catch-up (and lots of Beatles chat).

I flew back on the 12th, on the day when the COVID testing requirement to re-enter the States was officially dropped (I still had to do a proctored video test the day before, but by the time I had to enter my results into the system there was no need). We had a small family gathering the evening before at my mum’s, which ended in a lot of singing and dancing in the back yard, many Irish songs. I found it hard to sleep through the night though, as there was a big punch-up in the street between some of my mum’s Romanian neighbours, and I mean it was a proper fist fight between three blokes, you could hear the ‘thwack!’ and ‘pow!’ noises as the blows landed, even over the loud exclamations of a woman right below my window. It went on for quite some time, I wanted to tell them to take it down the park please, but given how loud we were playing the Wolfe Tones just a few hours before I couldn’t really tell them to pipe down. So I just kept my window closed and thought well, at least this will be a story. Usually I’m kept awake in Burnt Oak by the sound of foxes fighting in the bins and bushes, those things are loud. I made my plane in good time though, and I had an odd seat, in that there was no seat in front of me, giving me loads of lovely legroom. Also no screen to watch, but then I was going to be watching that Sex Pistols show on my iPad anyway, and listening to more Beatles podcasts. The guy next to me was a bit jealous of my legroom I think. He was chatty and kept trying to have a conversation with me at first, but beyond a few pleasantries I wasn’t really interested in listening to this guy for ten hours so put the headphones on and started drawing, because I just can’t stop drawing can I.

LHR to SFO 061222 sm