Thu 1: Life is pootling along quite normally. Boris Johnson is Prime Minister, the Queen's at Balmoral, the sun sets just before eight, the pound's at $1.15, Labour's at 42% in the polls, interest rates are under 2%, Russia's on the back foot in Ukraine and it's still short sleeve weather. How much could change in a month? Fri 2: A horde of teenage boys commandeered the front of the top deck of the 132 bus, surreptitiously vaping and discussing dubious sexual practices. Nearby passengers looked a little nervous, and were even more worried when the ringleader opened up a playlist on his phone and blared out... oh, Baggy Trousers by Madness. "I love this band," he said, and all his mates sang along, which I guess counts for wild behaviour in Eltham. Sat 3: I took the tube replacement coach to Heathrow Airport - a luxury ride along the M4 - and there were only four of us on board. We got stuck in some bad roadworks on the A4 but it wasn't too slow and it was still £10 cheaper than taking Crossrail. Sun 4: I finally visited [Redacted] because I was in the area and suddenly remembered it's open on Sundays. It's utterly atypically downmarket for zone 1, but it's not going to remain unblogged forever so I'd better not mention it now.
Mon 5: This photo shows the northernmost point in Greater London which is on the clockwise carriageway of the M25 about halfway between J24 and J25, just north of Crews Hill station. I would tell you more but we were driving home from Blenheim Palace at the time so quite tired, and nobody was keen to stop on the hard shoulder for a closer look. Tue 6: Nice to see the Queen smiling as she despatches Boris Johnson. I do like that photo of her by the Balmoral fireplace while she waits for new PM Liz Truss to turn up. A rock of stability in these turbulent times. Wed 7: I dropped into the Science Museum today which used to be easy, you just walked in. Instead when I said I hadn't pre-booked a ticket they sent me over to a single desk where a weary operative laboriously produced one, and after that I had the choice of eight self-service terminals to scan myself in. I hate to think how this ridiculous system copes at busy times. I gave them a fake name, it was the most contemptuous action I could think of.
Thu 8: Because it was chucking down with rain I came home before lunchtime, which is how I ended up watching all six hours of royal health updates from [12.30 The Queen's not well] to [6.30 The Queen has died]. It turns out she died halfway through, probably while Nicholas Witchell was wittering. Fri 9: It also turns out that if you head to the front gates of Buckingham Palace before 7am to see the floral tributes, Ian Visits has got there first. Sat 10: Something I didn't tell you about Open House: If you head really deep into the outer boroughs, sometimes there's only time to visit one venue. Sun 11: Something I didn't tell you about Open House: I was much happier looking in the cabinets on the first floor than those on the narrow second floor balcony. Mon 12: I bought some non-budget pate from the supermarket this week and ooh that's much nicer, but is it twice-the-price nicer? Tue 13: I wasn't sure where would be best to watch the Queen's cortege pass by, so I started at Hanger Lane and walked for an hour along the A40, past premature crowds who hadn't realised she hadn't landed at Northolt yet. I found a rare quiet slot between a group in grey trackies and a pair in pink jackets with giant flags to wave, and waited for an hour in increasing amounts of rain to watch a flag-draped-box pass by for a few brief seconds. Then I went home, rewound iPlayer and spotted myself in the helicopter shot.
Wed 14: It's 20 years since I bought a copy of first album by The Streets, so today I played all five albums back to back and wow, what a debut, but followed by a sequence of ever-diminishing returns. Thu 15: I never thought I'd get away with it for a year. Fri 16: In this month's BBC Sounds recommendations, obviously there's the new season of Mark Steel's in Town (Tring! The Scillies! Nottingham! Paris!), and I'll also chuck in Gideon Coe's eclectic three hour themed evenings on Thursdays on 6Music. Meanwhile over on the iPlayer I thought teen thriller Red Rose started brilliantly and properly embraced its Bolton location but it had unhooked me somewhat by the end. Sat 17: Something I didn't tell you about Open House: I didn't book but nobody checked and nobody cared. Sun 18: Something I didn't tell you about Open House: I doubt you want to hear any more about Open House to be honest. Mon 19: I headed into town very early to see arrangements for the state funeral, and every road around Westminster was already sealed off by big green panels so if you'd come up from the provinces you'd have seen precisely nothing and probably ended up watching a big screen in Hyde Park... which you could have done more comfortably back home, which is what I did.
Tue 20: In very local news, they've started knocking down the block of flats overlooking Stroudley Walk. The outer rooms are proving easier to smash than the inner stairwell. Wed 21: Today I received a text message and an email telling me I'm eligible for a further Covid vaccine this autumn and inviting me to book online. So I went online and entered my NHS number and answered their questions, but was told "You do not need to book any coronavirus vaccination appointments using this service" so I didn't, and I'm a bit confused now. Thu 22: I can confirm that a tube journey from Hatton Cross to any of the Heathrow terminals is now free, which it wasn't last month (but the free blue tickets don't work, you have to touch something in and out). Fri 23: You can tell it's autumn because Cup-a-Soups are finally back on special offer in the supermarket (but the price increase since this time last year is a whopping 25%).
Sat 24: I dropped into Shoreditch Fire Station's Open Day, an opportunity to see new and vintage fire engines, meet firefighters and stroke old helmets. They were also showcasing the London Fire Brigade's new typeface which looks splendid, and is available on a number of products in the LFB online shop, because even the emergency services are resorting to fundraising these days. Sun 25: I'm down to one functioning cassette recorder, and it's suddenly started playing tapes at muted volume making everything unlistenable, as if the 20th century is finally trying to eject me. Mon 26: A new footbridge is being added underneath Barnes Bridge on the north side of the Thames, which'll speed up walks along the riverbank by chopping off a five minute diversion under the railway. Looks good, but I got there prematurely. Tue 27: I was approached on the tram by a man from survey company Kantar asking where I'd been and where I was going so he could enter it into his tablet. But he didn't make it clear whether I was supposed to tell him where I was getting off (Reeves Corner), where I was leaving the tram network (Beckenham Road) or where I was ultimately heading (Bow Road), so my apologies if that messes up this year's figures. Wed 28: I stumbled upon a miniature railway in Ruislip (not the one round the Lido, the one beside Yeading Brook) where a volunteer was busy mowing the grass between the tracks. It turns out you can ride their trains round a big loop on Sunday afternoons for £1, and I suspect the Roxbourne Railway should be a lot better known.
Thu 29: I have new neighbours in the flat below mine, and whenever they come out onto their balcony to smoke I can swiftly tell whether it's tobacco or weed even while sitting on my sofa. I need better insulation. Fri 30: Life is pootling along quite abnormally. Liz Truss is Prime Minister, Charles III is King, the sun sets just after half past six, the pound bottomed out at $1.03, Labour's at 54% in the polls, interest rates are over 2%, Russia's annexed 15% of Ukraine and it's definitely jacket weather. How much can change in a month!