Monday, October 30, 2006

Back From Blighty

Anyone miss me? Ernie, Lucy and I spent the past two weeks in England. There is no way I am going to give a complete account of the trip, but there will be some comments as soon as I get the photos organized. I am still rather fuzzy headed: the trip back on Saturday night was complicated by headwinds across the Atlantic and a delayed connection at Dulles. Once my brain and my body get back on the same time zone, I will be fine.

What a richness of places, people and experiences. There are always “characters” to remember in Britain. There was Michael who drove the coach in which we visited Canterbury. He sounded just like Stanley Holloway and flirted shamelessly with Lucy (he also looked like Stanley Holloway in his role as Alfred Doolittle, so that flirtation didn’t go anywhere!) There was the wonderfully polite man in the ticket office at the train station in Cambridge who dealt with our bumbling so graciously. He, like every other service employee we met, addressed me unfailingly as “madam”. Who can forget the sailor on the boat from Greenwich to Westminster who commandeered the public address system and gave us a spirited guide to the sights along the river—“and for those of you who have nevva seen the Tate Modern . . . don’t bovva.”

We spent time with family and old friends, we saw productions of “Summer and Smoke” and “Guys and Dolls” in the West End. We saw Bath Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral, Hadrian’s Wall and the fabulous British Library. At Ernie’s request, we even visited the mecca of marmalade lovers, the Wilkins and Sons factory in Tiptree. My biggest disappointment? Somehow the beer didn’t seem as great as I remembered it. What surprised me the most? The courtesy of the people we came across and the fact that I never once got on a crowded tube without someone offering me a seat.

I loved today’s Mother Goose and Grimm cartoon. It’s my visual aid for this post and an irreverent reminder that four days ago we were standing on Salisbury Plain, contemplating a phenomenon that scholars still can not explain.

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