A night of childhood celebrities and theoretical physics was to be found in Chiswick Park as we took a turn through time on February 2nd – Groundhog Day.
Waiting for Greg in The Old Pack Horse I merrily chortled along to a story in the Evening Standard about the Blue Peter time capsule at the Millennium Dome. The capsule, buried in 1998 and due for excavation in 2050, had been discovered by a construction team who became convinced of secret bullion within and thus, carefully, delicately and meticulously, smashed at the capsule with spades. Their treasure hunting efforts at one point aided by “a bloke in a forklift” who “squished it with the machine’s teeth”. Alas, the only riches to be found were a Spice Girls CD and a deflated France ’98 football. Accordingly – the hoard was jettisoned into a nearby skip.
Upon finishing the article I laid down the paper and reminisced, pining for those carefree, halcyon days of the late nineties when the capsule was consigned to the earth and Greg and I were barely in double figures. I meditated on Blue Peter and Turkey Twizzlers and how, unlike Bill Murray’s Kafkaesque dilemma in the hit date-based film, time does ever rattle forwards regardless. Time capsules futile. Blue Peter presenters forgotten. Turkey Twizzlers outlawed.
My rumination briefly paused, I clocked two vaguely familiar faces sharing a bottle of white wine. Ominously, it was mid-to-late nineties Blue Peter presenters Tim Vincent and Stuart Miles raising a glass to their recently exhumed past.
A sign, I was certain, that the power of Groundhog Day in fact quivers and whinnies in all of us. That time is circular and no capsule can halt its perennial repetition. That we’re all locked in an interminable vault buried by the plucky and bright-faced of this universe and our only escape is at the hands of “a bloke in a forklift”.
Greg arrived as my internal and eternal debate forced me to the precipice of a self-induced existential crisis. He appeared nonplussed at my time bending theories.
“Well we should at least ask for a picture.”
“I guess we should” Greg sighed.
“We must!” I implored “It is our duty as children of the nineties!”
Greg and I shuffled and skipped, respectively, over to the once-colleagues now-friends whose relationship had clearly held in the 19 year interim.
Miles leapt up from his seat. “Of course. Our pleasure.” he beamed, matching my enthusiasm. Vincent’s response was equal to Greg’s stance on the situation – reluctant but duty bound.
“Post it to me on Twitter and I’ll share the photo” encouraged Miles, his children’s TV ardour having not waned over the decades.
Vincent, with an expression not dissimilar to Bill Murray on realising the monotony of eternity, forced a polite smile before heading outside for a cigarette.
Dodging the Lamborghinis and Ferraris of Chiswick Park, I tried to convince Greg of the ethereal and esoteric essence shining from the evening’s events thus far. Groundhog Day. The capsule. The article. Miles and Vincent. Us at the centre. Greg nodded. “Yes, a funny coincidence”.
We found our way into the Crown and Anchor where we met ULPC guest and ex-Chiswick local Helen who was joining us for a tread around her old turf. “You being back here must feel a bit Groundhog Day” I offered. Nothing.
Now a threesome, we headed to The Lamb and the pleasingly named Foxlow Chiswick. All the pubs so far had been high-end. ‘Gastro pub’ was emblazoned above every door and the interior design of all fell comfortably onto the chic spectrum. From local-pub-chic (The Lamb) to stripped-back-industrial-chic (the Foxlow) and this trend carried on through the night. Sleek, pleasant if uninspiring boozers all filled with sleek, pleasant if unengaging patrons. The zenith of this style being No.197 Chiswick Fire Station – a converted fire house with white ceiling, white walls, white floor, white bar and bare breeze blocks dividing dining and drinking areas. An excellent bar to impress an uptown client or friend, less so to enjoy a few jars perhaps.
Helen promised sweet delights further on down the road and she pointed out landmarks from her student days in the area as we went. The Duke of Sussex appeared to offer some slightly more down-to-earth features but with time called we were promptly turned away.
We finished the night in Carvosso’s at 210, a former police station (Chiswick locals clearly choosing alcoholic refreshment over protection from flames and crims) and indulged in their delicious cocktail selection for the last hour of the night.
I considered, my brain now pleasantly addled, to revive my thesis from earlier. Luckily for all, my mouth failed to articulate my B-Theorist conclusions. And so I swam back to the still present past of the night when Greg, Stuart Miles, Tim Vincent and I embraced and everything made sense.
NEXT STOP: CHORLEYWOOD