Last week, my 14-year-old son William decided to walk into school, as part of a charity day in aid of Sierra Leone. According to the AA, the distance from Pimlico to Wimbledon is eight miles, and I said I would go with him.

 

Now, compared to the 23 miles of a marathon, eight miles may seem but a step. Remember, however, that people are running when they do marathons; that must make it easier. Further, we had a deadline in the 8.30am by which William had to get in. We left before 6am, but still only just made it.

 

London looks at its best around dawn. Nobody is about. You can note the architecture of the King’s Road without being knocked into the street. The reflected sun blazed in the Thames as we crossed Putney Bridge, almost a Wordsworthian moment, only nowadays, London never completely sleeps.

 

On, past a lunatic skateboarder racing to Putney station; on, through the underpass beneath the Tibbet’s Corner roundabout (the tibbet not being the highwayman I had thought, but a gatekeeper to Lord Spencer’s Wimbledon Park estate). Wimbledon Common, empty except for birdsong, paths rutted with hoof marks, was the best bit. Why, however, are there no ancient trees? Not even Google
(on William’s mobile phone) could tell us.

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