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the website of Paul Dodgson


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By pauldodgson, Mar 23 2017 01:59PM

Sarah and I are sitting in the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall waiting to meet Poppy, my daughter. It is 12.00 on 22nd March 2017, the day after my birthday. We have come to London to celebrate and last night we saw Laura Marling perform at The Roundhouse. It is the third time I have seen her live in the last year and every time, her songs leaves me with a feeling of joy that lasts for days. She is singing in my head right now.

A man walks past. He is a bit younger than me, has a guitar case on his back, a microphone stand in his hand and is pulling a battered suitcase on wheels. I look at him thinking he might be here for a gig, then I see his shabby brown coat and slightly haunted face and know he is a busker come for the loo.

Poppy arrives and we decide to go for a walk. Outside the Festival Hall facing the Thames we turn right. Crucially, we turn right.

We walk half a mile then explore some pop up shops, laughing at scarves and sculptures. Then it starts to rain so we head back up river in search of shelter. By the time we reach The National Theatre the rain is heavy and we are getting wet. It is a matinee afternoon and crowded but Sarah spots a free table in the cafe so we rush inside.

It is 13.15. I buy Poppy an egg mayonnaise sandwich. Sarah and I have coffee and share a brownie.

Poppy gives me a birthday present. She has made a hand painted calendar with a different picture for every month. We look at each one.

At 14.23 I take a call about a show I am working on later in the year. The call lasts 5 minutes.

At 14.32 we leave the National and turn left, walking along the Thames. The clouds are low and uniform grey but it has stopped raining. Laura Marling is still singing in my head.

As we pass under Charing Cross Bridge I see the busker again. He is still wearing his shabby overcoat and is standing on the wet paving stones singing to an empty space. He has his back to the river. Then a tourist comes up close and films him on a phone.

The busker is framed by the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge in the background.

It is 14.40.

A few minutes later we are crossing the road near Waterloo. There is a commotion. It is noise, lights and disturbance. I turn and see a formation of police motorcycles pass at high speed, hurtling between stopped traffic, riders hunched over handlebars like they are racing.

They head upriver, towards Westminster Bridge.

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