This weekend we were in Sheffield, looking at possible houses to buy. Sheffield’s contrasts always surprise me: green parks jostling alongside brownfield sites and lockups; smart social engagement cheek by jowl with grinding poverty. We found a park none of our friends knew about, and were begged at by a street urchin like it was another century, never mind decade. It will take time for us to break our habit of Cotswoldian suppression of evidence of poverty. In the mean time, the sun was out and the parks were free to all.
Thanks to a sneaky points scheme, we’d bagged ourself a free room at the Hilton that we’d never stay at otherwise. It was basically like staying at the Premier Inn nearby, but with swimming pool, gym and sauna attached, and slightly brassier fittings in the corridors. And slightly further out of town. K. and I wandered between hotel room and spa, feeling like impostors, like we didn’t know the system (because we didn’t.) Does there come a point—maybe when I purchase my first heavy, expensive wristwatch—when this becomes easier? It’s always worse for me than K. because, once I remove my glasses, I’m like the world’s worst superman: a blinking undersea creature with wide but weak eyes. And the kind of swimming-pool signage put up by people with little theory of mind is confusing even for the fully sighted.
In the evening we went to an Indian restaurant in the slightly seedier end of the city centre. The food was marvellous, but the restaurant—really a converted takeaway—betrayed its attempts at social betterment: posh, smart decor but with paper napkins in Ikea tumblers; a professional and deferential manner that nonetheless removed plates before we’d completely finished. Like us, the restaurant was slightly out of its depth, but determined to enjoy the swim. For that alone: five stars, left a tip, would definitely recommend to a friend.