Saturday morning. A car parked outside our house. A large learner sign on the roof. I can see it from our upstairs bedroom window, where I'm standing with a pile of washing in my arms. Eldest gets into the car. I watch. I wait. Nothing happens. The instructor is talking. Two vehicles approach in the road, from the opposite direction. They drive past.
Cut to another car. Another day. Me driving. Eldest in the passenger seat. It's sunny. Beautiful. Hot. Windows down. Eldest puts Elton John on the stereo. "Do you like this?" I say.
"Love it!" he says. "They play this at the end of Life On Mars, as the cop car drives away."
"I had no idea Elton John was cool now," I say. "I love Elton John. I used to dance to Crocodile Rock in the basement of my friend Stacey's house, when we lived in Vancouver. When I was a girl."
I'm dropping him in East Dulwich. He likes a particular barber there. He wants his hair cut short, for the trip. Usually he goes on the bus but this time I said I'd take him. He can get the bus back. It's a favour. I'm doing him lots of favours at the moment.
I drop him on a corner, just before Lordship Lane. I wave goodbye. "Thanks!" he calls. He is smiling. He walks away. I turn the car round, get to a junction, traffic lights, scroll through the tracks, Candle in the Wind, click. It's loud, the volume Eldest had it. "Goodbye Norma Jeane… and it seems to me, you lived your life, like a candle in the wind."
Eldest is getting his hair cut because he's going backpacking, to Vietnam and Thailand, with two friends. He's going on Sunday. I'm going to drive them to the airport.
I used to play this on my car stereo, when I drove home from the BBC late at night, after directing a programme, when I was young, before I had a baby, my first baby, the baby I just dropped at the street corner, who is getting his hair cut, before flying to Vietnam.
Suddenly there are tears streaming down my face. Lots of tears. I'm wearing sunglasses so I let them flow. Silent tears. Elton John. Driving. A beautiful day. Past Brockwell Park. My baby having his hair cut on Lordship Lane, before flying to Vietnam and Thailand. Before going to university.
Cut back to Saturday morning, the car on the street. After what seems like an age, but is probably only a few minutes, the right indicator begins to wink. The car starts to move. It pulls out. Slowly. Bit faster. Faster still. Eldest is driving. The car is gone.
I am alone, standing at the window, a pile of washing in my arms.
Love E x