Sometimes numbers don’t tell the true story.
Says the man paid the make a narrative out of numbers; who is supposed to find human interest in pounds, dollars and roubles.
So perhaps I’m trained to see the romance in the spaces between the numbers. I’m sure anyone reading this wouldn’t find anything interesting in the following numerical sequence: 2, 2, 2, 4, 13
Indulge me for a second as I wind my way through a very personal blog, filling in the gaps between the numbers, and finding my own story in these numbers.
13 / 2
I’ve lived in Waddon for 13 years in two flats. It was always a marriage of convenience. Both flats, 50 odd yards apart were never where I particularly wanted to live. I never really knew where I wanted to live, but I didn’t think it was going to be here, stuck on the dirty, unloved arse end of Croydon, cheek by jowl with the A23 and the railway line. Next to a well known rough boozer, an annoying schlep into Croydon, with buses I knew were crap because I’d relied on the same busses most of my adolescent and nascent adult life.
Ready for the but? The railway gets me into London Bridge, Victoria or Shoreditch very quickly. It runs early and late. Croydon is but a snap of the fingers away, with good shopping and better food that has improved over the years. The A23 is a useful artery to have close by, and Waddon itself is straightforward suburbia, no better or worse than anywhere else. We’ve got a great new Arab restaurant that I reviewed here (link) the famous and excellent wing yip Chinese / Far Eastern centre and a very good new leisure centre where my son Aidan is learning how to play rugby.
Waddon has been a base of operations, a bunker where I’ve been safe from the slings and arrows of the outside world. It has given certainty, something that for quite a lot of the 13 years I didn’t have.
I’ve had 4 jobs in my time in Waddon. Waddon and its certainty has helped provide the psychological base to build a career, of which on a sunny day I think I can be proud. From nervous steps into IR and silly City drinking to post soviet capital markets, nasty oligarchs and “cheeky pints” to straightforward British old school financial comms, long lunches and a Kazakh sojourn and now a very different grown up job at one of the world’s largest PR firms; the constant has been my base. “Where are you going back to?” Has always been answered with “Waddon… It’s a small place just outside Croydon before you get to Wallington”. Waddon has been safety. Waddon has been a constant. It’s been home.
It’s also been home to 2 children. Aidan and Hannah will be known to most readers of this as they’ll have seen photos in my social media streams. Waddon will always be the place Kirsty and I started our family. A safe, nurturing environment with 2 great parks within walking distance, where we both felt rooted enough to take a life changing step and change each others’ lives for good. They won’t remember it, but it was in Waddon where they had their first swings, their fast play in parks, their first smiles and giggles. We will remember it and it will always make us happy.
As most of you will know, I’m on my second marriage. 2 major relationships in 13 years in the same place (although the first predated the move to Waddon) has seen an awful lot of change. Ups and downs, genuine bliss combined with embarrassing drunken self obsessed post relationship behaviour. I’m not going to linger here other than to say that I don’t regret anything and I’m happy to say everyone is now where they should be in life, and that the experience has again cemented Waddon into my soul.
There’s more. “But of course there is” I hear you say with a smirk. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of meals cooked in a couple of kitchens. Hundreds of chicken thighs, roasted in a tray with lemon, herbs, seasoning and served with anything, but I’m a fan of carrots, spuds and cabbage. Curries so hot I’ve paid for it later. Roast dinners that are never quite cooked at the right time. Risotto with crab, mushroom, chicken or just herbs and lemon. I’ve become a big fan of Sichuan food and I’ve made my first goes at it in my little Waddon kitchen.
Then there’s the booze, either in company or alone. Craft beer. Real ale. Crap lager. Red wine from the Rhone, Italy, Lebanon and not many other places. Vodka in martinis or just out of the freezer with a twist. Champagne, mostly good but some bad. Booze has always been a passion, and a constant of my life in Waddon. Mostly controlled. Never regretted.
Finally sometimes you only know you love something if you lose it. I’ve lived part time on a boat and travelled a lot to some strange parts of the world, which can on occasion be stressful. Waddon welcomed me back and offered me a blissful norm to balance life as a corporate nomad.
And now I’m leaving. We pack tomorrow, and leave Friday. I’m looking forward to the next step but that doesn’t mean I’m not a little sad. Waddon has given me a lot and I’ll always look back fondly.