Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pt. 1 : england (in a nutshell)

[image: dee's back patio. her back yard is more like a pasture, if you want to get technical.]

credit card miles gave me a free ticket, and emma and her birthday gave me a free place to stay and an excuse to go, so why the hell not spent christmas in ye olde accentshire? staying with emma's family is great, not just because her dad looks like the dad on the fresh prince if he were white and her mom is always making delicious soup while listening to cds of the 2000 year old man, or because emma takes me to places like london's oldest tea shop and insists we spend christmas day watching kylie minogue on the dr. who special, but because emma hasn't lived in the house since she was 16 or so, so everything she owns there is like a shrine to the early/mid-90s, which is exactly when i really gave a shit about english pop culture. so when i go to england, i don't just travel to europe, i travel back in time to a magical place where wonderwall is still on the charts and richie manic is alive and accounted for and the next stone roses album still has the potential to be genius (if it would ever come out, i mean jeez!).

[image: this painting hangs in the upstairs dining area of the oldest tea shop in london. in the basement, there's a shop that sells tons of APC clothing. the shop itself sells an almond pastry that made time stand still. that is all.]

to me, london is exactly like boston (or vice versa really, but you know what i mean), except everybody's really funny instead of really angry. that and it's a lot more expensive (so much more expensive, sweet christ!). and everybody hates the irish instead of everybody being irish. but the tube and the t both run their last trains way too early (altho, unlike the t, the underground map does not resemble a swastika). and everything is old. deliciously, beautifully old.

between family visits (i'll get to that later) and academic stuff, i've been to london a bunch of times, so i've done all the touristy shit before, plus i timed my visit right around the time the entire country shuts down for jesus. so i did see a play (the patrick marber dealie about poker, and let me say that for a guy who was so funny on the day today, marber as dramatiste seems to be a humorless, self-important dick, because some of the dialog is so overwrought it's almost like you can picture it being written by a guy in a beret [although it was nowhere near as bad as closer, thanks god, in that it was at least about something besides the offscreen presense of natalie portman's nekt cooch]). mostly tho, i shopped, ate, spent time with emma's family, and, as previously mentioned, watched dr. who.

i've been trying to avoid another scifi obsession and skipping dr. who and torchwood altogether, and emma's grandma didn't want to watch it, either, because she didn't want to miss dragon's den, but emma wanted to see kylie. and it was kind of shocking how much emma enjoyed the show despite hating scifi, and how much grandma enjoyed the show despite the fact she called it "disgraceful" or "atrocious" every fifteen minutes (before returning to gaze at the screen with slackjawed wonder).

and even shopping i didn't buy too much stuff (so! ex! pen! sive!), but i did get some marks and spencer mini chocolately bites for new years eve (also to be discussed later) and a pair of boots that make me look like robin hood (minus the soap star good looks, alas). oh, and an overpriced train ticket to kings lynn. still waiting for my refund, england. let's hope it takes less time than that stone roses album! blimey!

as previously mentioned, i have family in england-- cousins on my father's side-- who live in a diary cottage an hour or so outside of norwich. the matriarch of this wing of the family is my cousin dee, who started renting the cottage 40 years ago when, as a young hippie, she needed a cheap place to live and didn't mind the lack of plumbing or the goat that lived inside. then she lived in london for a while, had a family, visited the place on weekends, whatever, but now, as an older hippie, she's in norwich fulltime 3 toilets, central heating, and, with the kids all out of the house, not so much as a dog, so i was glad to keep her company, even if it was only for a couple days.

[image: where i slumbered. sigh.]

[image: the indoor plumbing of which i spake. the bathroom itself might have been installed 10 years ago, but the toilet itself is so old i think jesus might have used it to turn his piss into grog. can't be sure where that is in the new testement though. probably right near the passage that says you can't be gay.]

i've always taken after my father more than my mother (see: nerdiness, tact deficiency, mustache), and my dad and dee were pretty close growing up, so dee feels more like an aunt than a cousin once removed on the side whatever whatever. and it was also a treat to see milo, jamie's (dee's son's) kid who i last saw when he was maybe a week old and had no name. i don't think milo had a name until he was almost a month old because jamie and his wife are both architects, and therefore highly perfectionistic across the board. add to that that his wife is from israel (but really nice, i swear to god!) and was looking for a name her family could pronounce, and that jamie wanted to carry on dee's family tradition and give his son at least 5 names (i think jamie has 7...dee's oldest daughter, mary-jane, has maybe 9, one of which is hurricane). so yeah, milo took a while to come up with. but natch, he's an adorable little guy, and i expect great things, even if his mother's teaching him hebrew.

[images: pre-milo living room, post-milo/childsplosion living room]

on saturday, dee and i had a lovely day around dairy cottages, eating lentil soup, tending the fire and listening to bob dylan dj a show on bbc 2 in which all the songs were about dogs. hippietastic! and i love her house, no matter how fucking cold it gets in the winter, because it's so old and built for people so much smaller that you can't not feel like a hobbit. i should note tho that dee, hippie she is, absolutely schooled my ass in scrabble like a word jock. and granted, i suck at scrabble, suck like that guy meadow soprano dated who, when they played in her dorm room, spelled words like fat and poop, but the beating i got was still sobering.

then on sunday we caved and bought milo a tiny christmas tree to prepare for his arrival (he's old enough to know he's missing out, i guess, even though his household is religion-free), ate a lovely early supper, and then poor dee had to drive me back to the train in the dark fog so i could get back to london before emma's mom got worried on my journey from one surogate jewish mother to another. but at least i got to see dee, and i assured her a good room in the house when she comes to becca's wedding (more on that later-- so much to be discussed later!), and when i got back to emma's, there was cake. and more soup.

long story short, emma wanted to see a movie and get high tea on her birthday, so not only did i agree to see enchanted, but i wore heels, so let nobody ever question my love for emma and my appreciation for her birth but not long after that i had to fly back to boston on an american airlines flight that is pretty much the airborne version of steerage/traveling to europe on the back of a pick-up truck, and so i traveled back in time to the oasis-less present day while sitting next to an enormous russianess in a sweat suit. then i got scooped up that the airport and went off to new hampshire in a snow storm, having gotten through security with not one, but two containers of mini chocolately bites.

[image: happy birthday, emsie! and no, that's not a lush or happy mondays or cornershop or whoever LP]

next: new hampshire, new year's, n'high school musical two. which, believe it or not, doesn't make for a long entry. shrugs.

No comments: