We fly tonight. The children are in a fever of excitement. I am trying to squeeze too much (mostly dirty laundry which means this blog will continue to attract searches on body odour) into too little in the way of baggage space because I am anxious about herding three wild African children with absolutely no street savvy across London (Heathrow to Kings Cross). Limiting what we will have to carry seems a sensible first step in not losing anybody or anything in transit.
Our arrival in London, at dawn tomorrow, will mean, amongst other things, fights over who is going to press the buttons in the elevators whilst I try to encourage the kids – to the astonishment of fellow lift-riders – to take turns (remember one of mine is nearly 16, another almost 14); riotous laughter on the escalators and – probably – attempts to walk up the downs and down the ups. It will involve trying to keep the children out of danger in the early morning stampede of London commuters as they waft along marvelling at the sights and sounds oblivious to the fact they are holding up half the capital’s work force who battle to pass them.
It will mean calculating into Tanzanian shillings the price of a sandwich as we board the train, which will elicit sounds of outrage, ‘10,000/- for a sandwich! But that’s a whole months’ pocket money!’
There are so many things about life in the West that astound the children and stop them dead in their tracks (hence the frustration with which they infect commuters in a hurry), tomorrow’s only the beginning. But there is such humour, such innocent joy, to be enjoyed in their myriad observations about life in England. That everybody we encouter probably dismisses us as eccentric matters not a jot.