If writing a post about the above subject prior to Hugo’s abduction, I would have written about Hampstead in the north of London, Greenwich in the east, Wimbledon in the south, Putney in the west or Covent Garden and surrounds in the centre.
Things have, of course, changed now. My favourite part of London is a quiet and nondescript place called Norbiton, a district of the somewhat better known Kingston-upon-Thames. During the time when Hugo was living alone with his mother in 2010-2011 he lived on Park Road in Norbiton (although I only came to know this less than a week before he was taken to Japan).
Since that time, I have visited Norbiton 80 times, in all seasons, sometimes just until the next train left the station and sometimes for hours on end. Today was the 80th such visit; in the first year after Hugo left, I made 40 such visits so that has now been equaled. I cannot be close to Hugo because he has been taken away from me. What cannot and will never be taken away from me, however, are my special memories of the time – a few weekday evenings and a Saturday and Sunday – that I was allowed to spend with Hugo in and around Norbiton, before he went to Japan. I remember how, in particular, I would walk with Hugo around the block – just him and me – up and down Brunswick Road. Every time that I go back there, I retrace our steps and relive those memories as if Hugo was still walking beside me. I hope that, one day, he might do so again. Some might belittle such activities but for me it is and will remain a way of staying close to my son.
Below are some photographs of the area, taken by me at different times.
Norbiton Station, July 2013
As above, April 2013
The house on Park Road, Norbiton, where Hugo lived until 20 November 2011 (taken on 20 May 2012, exactly 6 months after he left the UK)
Brunswick Road, Norbiton, April 2013
Brunswick Road, Norbiton, May 2012