By the time we reach the River Thames, No. 2 has taught me everything I need (or want) to know about sharks (we’ve been travelling for just 35 minutes).
A chill wind whips up, so I tug my scarf tighter. My son stands at the river’s edge, moving breezily on to the subject of the seals which (apparently) splash in the murky dark depths below us.
So start our 24 hours in London – a constant stream of chat that chimes perfectly with our non-stop schedule.
No bad thing, for how else would we have found out about José’s electronic music in the bustling Café Rouge? He serves us a French supper, and says that for him, London – rather than Sevilla – is the place to be.
Nor would I have tried to catch up with this blue Brexit protester next morning, without No. 2 by my side. But we do so, and No. 2 tells him that he’s very speedy, and looks great. Impeccably spoken, the gent thanks us, apologises for not being able to stop as he’s running late, then marches on to join his comrades.
We do our bit for the cause by stopping for a Belgian breakfast.
Before joining our first ever London Walk led by Richard IV (yes, really), who uncovers Arthur Conan Doyle’s London life, step by step. Without giving away too much (in case you wish to take the tour yourself, Sherlock), here are a few clues.
We craftily escape for an hour or so into the world’s largest travel bookshop, Stanfords, where No. 2 does a sweetly unsubtle job of buying me a Mother’s Day present.
At last, it is time to head across the road to the Arts Theatre. This trip has been inspired by our mutual discovery of the comedy which was born out of the muddy, bloody battlefields of the First World War in the satirical publication, The Wipers Times. The 21st theatre production of the same name is what we have come to see.
It’s excellent. With jokes about gas, and puns galore, it is funny, multi-layered, poignant and brilliantly acted. At times we laugh out loud, then later I find tears trickling down my cheeks.
Humour and pathos in the wreckage of a Europe being torn apart by war.
We trek towards London Bridge, tired and thoughtful, passing through an eclectic food market behind the Tate Modern, and the quiet of the South Bank’s hidden squares. I am pensive while No. 2’s enthusiasm for Ethiopian cooking, curious windswept clothing on a statue, and everything else he sees, flows with no ebb in sight.
Yet the end is nigh, and finally, he falls silent on the train home. Unaccustomed to his wordlessness, I nudge him and ask what he’s enjoyed the most.
“The Belgian waffle.”
Be quick if you’d like to see The Wipers Times – it’s only playing until May 2017. Click here for more info.
And read on here for how Germany’s The Fritz Times didn’t manage to keep the UK in Europe.