Beyond the cupboard of broken toys — Part 16

I am standing on the Thames Path at Crowley’s Wharf. I am looking at the river. It is grey and muddy and seems to be roiling. Like when you put milk that is on the turn into coffee. I am wondering what it would be like to be a fish in the dirty, polluted Thames.

A stranger comes past.

“Cheer up, Mate. It might never happen.”

No. It has happened. I have got my dream job. I am working as a musical instrument conservator at the Horniman Museum. I am almost mindlessly happy. I have also got a part-time job as a visiting lecturer at the London College of Furniture and I have paid off all my debts. I am saving up. But I need to think about the future.

The new morris team is a hit. We have got new members flocking to us. People who dance with other teams but are looking for a bit of light relief from all the usual bickering and team politics. We have had members visiting from Australia and the United States. And other people have been looking at the way we operate. Whenever we go to festivals we invite any spare dancers to join in with us. We have created a team that is inclusive and democratic. We have become very popular.

Tyler’s Men. 1991

We have developed a couple of traditions; We like to have a small tour to mark the clocks going forward and back. It seems as random and pointless as going out on May morning, like other teams. Also, one of our members is a publican. He invites us to dance at his pub regularly. We are not at all dismayed that it is a gay pub.

The Richmond Arms, 1993

I am well pleased. I manage to hook up with one of the customers. I am also pleased that the rest of the team are fine with it. No snidey remarks.

The new gallery launch is a huge success, but it does mean my contract will be ending soon. I have got the museum bug. I really, really want to work in this field. Unlike most of my previous work, people are pleased to see me. They don’t all have depressing problems and think I have the means to magically change their lives. This is such a huge relief. I think it is fair to say that this line of work is good for my mental health and well-being. I am determined to stick with it.

If I want to continue I need to get better qualifications. I make some enquiries and applications. Very soon I have got a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art. It covers all my tuition fees and gives me a living stipend. I will be doing studio work at the Horniman Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, while doing academic study at the RCA. I will get a Masters Degree in Musical Instrument Conservation.

My contract finishes in March and the course starts in September. I have a long summer of leisure to look forward to. I have no commitments or things to hold me back. I have saved enough money to go and visit friends in Australia.

A couple of the Morris Men are back in Australia and they give me an open invitation. Also one of my college friends, who also danced with the team. I have got hospitality for my visit.

I am very very pleased. I can’t stop smiling.

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