Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Can't help myself

It cracks me up every time.

Rocket III

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I see your face and sense the grace

We're at The King's Arms pub. We're with her friends, a rowdy lot of sailing buddies. A joy to meet this bunch. We are laughing and talking, connecting as we can. Good fun, as she says.

Then I notice him. He's sitting on a bar stool, alone in the corner. I admire his long grey coat and thick red scarf, his white-ish grey hair. He looks like home, warm and familiar. I smile at him. He nods back. Before I know what I am doing, I am walking towards him.

You have such a warm face, I had to come say hello. Actually, you remind me of my father.

How nice of you. Hello. Your father has a lovely daughter.

Thank you. How are you tonight?

He gracefully waves his hand over his beer and whiskey.

I have my Guinness and my Jameson. He smiles. I am doing quite well, thank you.

As he moves, I look at his hand. Large hands, like my father's. Then I see his cane. Dark wood, heavily detailed silver handle. I look back at him and smile.

My name is Alison.

I present my hand, which he takes and raises to kiss. I am flattered by the chivalry of his gesture.

His eyes twinkle. It's an honor to make your acquaintance, Alison, my name is Edward.

Of course it is.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The quiet solitude between vacation and work

After getting her checked in and in place in the long security line at Gatwick, I stand at the doorway and watch her move in line. I am hating to see her go. She turns back to me, smiles and waves. I mouth, I love you. She returns the affection, turns around and disappears into the interior. I weave through the enormity of the airport, catch the Gatwick Express with a minute to spare, return to Victoria station, take the Victoria Line to Oxford Circus, change to the Bakerloo Line to Regent's Park, and walk back a couple blocks to the hotel. By the time I get to the room, her flight has taken off.

Sleep takes me for hours.

Feeling that I must do something else today beyond chaperoning to the airport and back in the early morning, I put on warm clothes, lace up my tennis shoes and head for Regent's Park for a walk. What I have in common with the others out in the park is the fact that we do not posses a modicum of sense. It is below freezing and we're all out strolling about like it's a sunny day. There is something invigorating about it though, the yellow leaves interspersed with the bare branches. Piles of fallen leaves along the paths. Couples strolling together with their dogs. A man kicks a soccer ball to a Dachshund wearing a Texas flag sweater; the Dachshund excitedly returns it with his head. A little boy and his mother walk towards me. He says, But Mum, I don't want to be rich, I want to be like all the other boys. She gives me a sheepish smile, and to him a devilish look. Rugby games are going on in the center fields. A single pink glove lies discarded on the sidewalk. As I walk, I think about the past four days, what a joy her company has been, how much I thrilled in watching her experience this city, and experiencing it with her.

The sun sets and darkness moves in quickly. Twinkling Christmas lights of white pop on around me. The wind picks up and I zip my jacket tight, pull the collar up around my ears, and make my way home through this chilly English winter evening.

Regent's Park I Tree Queen's Lake

Saturday, November 26, 2005

If we don't have to have our feet amputated from over-use, then it will be pneumonia that gets us

Without pulling out a map to go over every square foot of city that we covered, and I do think that we've now covered it all, today we:

- Started off this morning on the tube to St. John's Wood, where a short walk brought us to Abbey Road. Yes, that Abbey Road. We had to walk the walk. It's unbelievable really, and we were both a bit surprised by how excited we were to be crossing the street at the same spot as the album cover; or in her case, the CD cover.
- Back on the tube to Soho.
- Stroll through Soho.
- Funky shops with funky window designs.
- Oops, I'd forgotten all the XXX Sex shops but there they were and there we were.
- We kept walking.
- Leicester Square.
- Covent Garden. Shops and Market.
- A string quartet.
- Wooden daisies and black and white photographs.
- Walk on down the road.
- A pub!
- Thaw our cold bodies inside the pub for a spell.
- Take tube to Piccadilly Circus
- Virgin Megastore again.
- She knows what she wants this time and walks out with her fifth Mum CD, excited she's now completed her collection. I purchase a Postal Service CD.
- Take tube to Hyde Park Corner.
- Stroll through Hyde Park to Speakers Corner and Marble Arch.
- Oooh look! The big red tourist bus station.
- Why not? And why not sit on the second story in the open air because it's only freezing outside and starting to rain...
- Biting wind, no doubt we'll both come down with pneumonia tomorrow.
- Exit that business an hour later at Westminster tube station.
- Catch tube to Zizzi's again for dinner.
- Thaw out again.
- Nice dinner, she orders what I had last time. I have the same again.
- Walk back to hotel.
- In a light rain.

Covent Garden II City view Hilton accessories
Abbey Road I The crossing at Abbey Road Abbey Road Studios grafitti II
Carnaby Street Leicester Sq. Shakespeare Covent Garden I
Hyde Park Marble Arch Cat with the goods

- She packs her bags.
- Order room service of ridiculously high calorie desserts - namely, chocoholics heaven for her and sticky toffee pudding with cream for me.
- Request 6:00 a.m. wake-up call because we're off to Gatwick early tomorrow morning.
- I'm going to miss her terribly this week.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The longest walk

Today started a bit later than we anticipated because neither of us could be bothered to drag ourselves out of a warm bed and into the cold air. Brrrr. Still, we managed. And in the daylight hours available to us, we:

- Walk to tube station where it is lightly snowing
- Major excitement over that
- Ride the tube to Westminster
- Big Ben, Parliament Buildings, Westminster Abbey
- Walk along the Thames towards The Tate Modern Museum
- Westminster Bridge
- Embankment
- Waterloo Bridge
- Blackfriars Bridge
- Tate Modern Museum, where we see all four exhibitions (Jeff Wall Photographer, Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris, Nude/Action/Body including Matisse, Picasso and Warhol, and History/Memory/Society, including Picasso and Boccioni)
- Lunch at Tate Cafe on top floor of museum with window views over Thames and London
- Millennium Bridge
- Southwark Bridge
- London Bridge
- Tower Bridge
- We've now walked the entire length of the Thames Path
- It's 5:30 and we are exhausted
- Soho will have to wait
- Tube to hotel
- Dinner in room

Day two of returning to hotel and having to soak feet in warm water. We've covered a lot of ground and we're feeling every bit of it. But having a fantastic time!

Big Ben Thames walk St. Paul's Cathedral
IMG_0869_edited Westminster Abbey I Westminster Abbey II
Milennium bridge & St. Paul's Cathedral Tate Modern Tower Bridge

Thursday, November 24, 2005

What a day, and not a scrap of turkey

Thanksgiving day in brief:

- Walk Regent's Park in the morning, see block-head Chocolate lab and fall in love (until asking his name and learning it's Chocolate) Still though, love the dog.
- Meet my boss outside office for a hello
- Oxford street
- Regents street
- Kick-Ass haircut at superfantasticexpensive salon
- Piccadilly Circus
- Virgin Music store
- Cat wets her pants at VRS selections but freezes at purchase choice and we leave with nothing but a promise to return once her musical focus kicks back in
- Trafalgar Square
- Westminster Bridge
- London Eye
- County Hall Gallery (largest collection of Salvador Dali works in the world - 500, to be exact)
- Discover Picasso in there too
- Walk along whatever street atop crispy fallen leaves, she turns to me and says, I'm so glad you brought me here, thank you.
- My heart melts and I hook my arm through hers
- She walks with me that way for a while before realizing we're connected and she wriggles out of the attachment
- Darkness falls at 4:00
- Weave back through Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus
- Along Regent Street and across Oxford Street... Christmas lights galore. All reds and whites and blues and giant snowflakes of light above our heads, twinkling and glowing.
- It works, we're wrapped up in the awe and magic
- Could it be the spirit of Christmas swirling around us?
- Duck into a few stores and come out with Christmas presents - snow falls upon us - definite Christmas spirit wrapping around and through our smiles
-Dinner at Zizzi's on Wigmore Street
- Conversation goes all over the place
- It's risky on both sides, but it's also safe
- Overheard conversation next to our table: I want to go to Dubai because it's big and spread out and five-starish. I have one friend in particular who would cringe at that.
- Walk back to hotel, 12 hours or so after we left
- Listen to Pink Floyd... Shine on you crazy diamond

Happy Thanksgiving. Indeed, we've lived our blessings today.

Colorful girl Bird flu Regents Park II
Regents College Eros Picadilly Circus
Lions Horses Women of World War II
Eyeing the London Eye Ben !! North from the London Eye
Big Ben London Eye Regent's Street
Oxford Street Kit Kat New Bond Street

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Alo Luv

On take off, I'm listening to Led Zepplin - Continental's music selection, from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame channel - and reading People Magazine. I look over at her, curious as to what she's burried into. Political Writings of Mahatma Ghandi. I really need to get serious reading back into my life.

The sunlight moves in a pattern of squares across the length cabin through the open shades, and we are on our way.

We arrive and are surprised if not outright shocked that there is no line at all in Immigration. At all. When we get our bags from the carousel, there are all of about 30 people in baggage claim. The entire baggage claim. And customs? Nobody. And by nobody, I mean there were no customs agents. Fine then. Note that this is the best time of year to travel to London.

My young traveling companion is stricken with a horrific case of jet lag so we unload our bags at the hotel, set out for some lunch at All Bar One where the vegitarion choices revive her a bit. Even though it's just below freezing out, we stroll the length of Marylebone High Street, going in and out of the shops and admiring all the goods that we'd snatch up for ourselves if the dollar to pound rate weren't so unfavorable on our end. After an hour we return to our hotel for a much-needed nap.

The big news? Tonight is the last night for last call. Liquor licenses are going long license now. Translation: Pubs and clubs can pull 24-hour licenses. No more last call at 11:00 and fast-footing it to the last trains and tubes. The government believes this will curb binge drinking. Sixty-seven percent of the polled public believe this will promote anti-social behavior. As the tubes and trains are not adjusting their schedules, I think the people might be right. For now at least, I have no plans in finding out.

Gatwick Express Animals in war - they had no choice Sign of the times
Bolsover Street Toucan Marylebone street