January 2, 2004
Kathy and I got home last night at midnite. Deena is still in Spain and will return on Sunday. She and Tomboy wanted to spend New Year’s Eve in Valencia (having seen first hand how the Spanish party, they are probably still going at it).
Kathy and I flew from Valencia into Heathrow on New Year’s Eve and were picked up by author and friend Frederick Nolan in his classic, old style Mercedes. There were a couple of odd things: first, it was 3:30 in the afternoon and it was dark (I mean nine at night kind of dark) and second, someone had ripped out his “petrol controls” and glued them onto the wrong side of the dash. Now everyone knows that Brits drive on the left, but until you actually see the phenom it’s quite unsettling. Against my better judgement I got in on the driver’s side (American) and sat there as Fred motored out into the gloomy darkness on the freakin’ wrong side of the road! Even more unsettling, was the fact that everyone else was coming at us from the other wrong side. In England, a right turn is the dangerous one, the left one a piece of cake. Like the Spanish, the Brits also love the traffic circle and have even added a second layer to some of them to make it more interesting. Fred tried to explain to me the nuiance of the outer and inner rings as we shot through one of these like some upside down dancer in a murky mirror, but it was beyond me. Besides I had to fight the overwhelming urge to grab the steering wheel and get the beast over to the right side of the road.
Got to Fred and Heidi’s cozy and historic home tucked into the vast, lush and very wet English countryside of Chalfont St. Giles (not to be mistaken for Chalfont St. Peters, or something like that, which is nearby).
Like Spain, England is steeped in history and it oozes from every nook and cranny. Not far from Fred and Heidi’s is a barn made with the wood from the Mayflower. Yes, the boat, not the moving company. Ozzie Osborn flipped his ATV just over yonder hillock and Four Weddings And A Funeral used the neighboring Georgian-historic-style town which looks exactly like Williamsburg, but it’s the real deal.
We had tea at about four in the English tradition complete with silver tray, dainty cups and a crackling fire in the fireplace. A sumptuous dinner followed at seven, complete with vegetables from Heidi’s garden. Over wine and more wine, we solved most of the World’s problems.
Speaking of which, the papers are quite feisty over there. When Bush made his secret trip to Iraq over Thanksgiving, the Independent (Fred’s fave broadsheet) ran this headline: THE TURKEY HAS LANDED.
The next morning, Fred got us to Heathrow, Terminal 4 at 11 and that’s when everything fell apart. As we checked in, the British Airlines agent told us our luggage was not on our flight and we needed to go to terminal 1 to pick it up and bring it back. We thought this was odd, considering the distance (it’s fifteen minutes by car to the other terminals because they built terminal 4 on the other side of the runway). Well, we descended into the bowels of the earth (actually it was lighter down there than it was on the surface), got on a train, made it to terminal 1, found Iberia airlines, made the changes with forty minutes to spare, but when we tried to go back we ended up in downtown London and flat-out missed our flight. In the ensuing melee, Kathy came this close to getting arrested exactly like Adam Sandler in Anger Management, but that’s a story for tomorrow. I need to take a nap.
“Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.”
Post a Comment
Post your comments