Jabberwocky for 2002 December 4 (entry 0)

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: Back from London. I taught my class in the morning and then Jonell Amundsen drove me to LAX. This whole thing was a real pain, but it was going to be $400 more to fly out of Bakersfield. I caught a puddlejumper to San Francisco. SFO has been jerryrigged to add anti-terrorist security and I ended up having to go through the checkpoint twice because the worker pointed me the wrong way. I met Leonard at the gate and we boarded our all nighter to Heathrow.

I read a novel on the way over. Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman. It's a British novel that will be published Spring 2003; Sumana got an advance proof copy for me at a book fair. The plot has to do with a wife, married 25 years, whose husband announces one day that he has found someone else and is leaving her. The someone else turns out to be the woman's secretary. She goes to work the next day to sack the hussy and finds that the girl has not only grabbed her husband but also her job. This shakes up the comfortable world, and the novel is about her putting her life back together. It's beautifully written, and I ended up reading it twice.

The plane was full of Brits who had gone to Hawaii to attend a wedding. The bride and groom were on board as well. They were noisy and fairly obnoxious, especially the children. How sane is that, I ask you--to fly from the UK to Hawaii just to get married? Just to watch someone else get married?

I enjoyed the sight of Heathrow because when I read Mormonism in Germany I was very touched by the description of the members gathering in the dark on the tarmack during WWII as they watched the last of the General Authorities leave. They flew dark--no lights, no radar-- for fear of bombs; what made it more poignant is that nobody knew at that time what was going to happen, but the future didn't look good. As Leonard remarked, "The Blitz was no fun."

We found our flat--five floors up, and no elevator. Gasp, pant. It was just ideal for our purposes-- bedroom, kitchen, living room, bathroom, and a little washer/dryer machine we finally figured out how to use. The one thing we needed that it didn't have was an answering machine; this broke my heart because I couldn't get ahold of Sue and there was no way for her to leave a message for me. So I missed meeting Sue. Oh well, I guess I'll have to go back!

The location of our flatwas ideal, except that our tube stop was shut down by the firefighters' strike. It is on Gower Street, right in the neighborhood of the Bloomsbury Group, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and Lady Ottoline Morrell's literary salon. Walking distance to the British Museum, to which we hied ourselves early the next day.

We had budgeted two days for the British Museum, but even so didn't see the half of it. We were very careful to see the Elgin marbles, the Rosetta Stone, and the mummies. Actually we almost missed the Rosetta Stone because we were so overwhelmed by a granite fist belonging to a statue of Ramses II which was next to it. I got all excited to find Cleopatra's mummy, but Leonard pointed out to me that the dates were wrong and it couldn't be THE Cleopatra, but another girl of that name.

Rachel took us to Camden Town, where I bought two pair of Doc Martens in the street stall. We really enjoyed the used bookstores here. I bought Forster's A Passage to India and a biography of Ottoline Morrell, which I had the unique experience of reading on the very street where she lived.

Leonard came down with a sinus infection and stayed home one day, and Rachel and I went shopping. We looked at every single baby outfit at Herrod's trying to decided on one for Sara Langley's baby. Finally we settled on a pink Peter Rabbit jumper, striped turtleneck, and socks with Peter on them. We bought a coffee cup for Grandpa, and Rachel took my picture by the Diana/Dodi memorial (which features the last wine glass she ever drank from--unwashed-- yeeeechhh!)

One day Leonard and I went to Cambridge, where I bought some woolen sweaters. I ripped the price tags off one while still standing at the cash register, and put it on. It was COLD! We walked miles and miles, seeing the colleges. We also "saw" a toy store, and I got a British Monopoly set.

The main purpose for visiting the Tate was to view Richard Dadd's "The Fairy Feller's Masterstroke", which I have wanted to see since I was in high school. When I couldn't find it on display, I inquired, and they told me it's not on display. I did buy the poster in the gift shop, and the fellow there told me that one can call two days in advance and arrange to see it. Leonard said, "That sounds like a snooty painting to me."

I came away from the Tate with a newfound adoration for John Constable. After the Tate, we walked past Westminister Abbey. The line was too long to try to go in. We met Rachel at the London Eye and went for a ride on that, and then we went to the Council War Rooms--interesting, and restoration very much a work in progress.

Leonard was reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, so after Lady Morrell's biography I started it too, but didn't finish. We left the book there since it was so big and heavy.

Rachel insisted on having Thanksgiving dinner but we couldn't oblige her because all the turkeys were frozen solid. We bought potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce and Leonard cooked them for the poor homesick girls.

One of the highlights of my trip was seeing my baby perform the role of Portia (The Merchant of Venice) at Shakespeare's Globe theater. The production--a student production-- was really bad overall, but Rachel was wonderful. For an English teacher, this was a once in a lifetime high.

Too soon, too soon, our time was up--still never reached Sue, and never did a bunch of things we wanted to. I guess I'll have to go back!

In San Francisco, as I was waiting for my flight to Los Angeles, they asked for volunteers to be bumped in exchange for a free ticket. I volunteered, thinking I can use the ticket to go to Washington DC in the spring. They put us up in a hotel, where I collapsed. I skipped a shower in the morning so I could sleep longer. Unfortunately, the shuttle to the airport wasn't running quite early enough to get us to our flight on time. I picked up some men and we split a cab--the three of us got to SFO, but I never saw the rest of our bumped group again.


© 2001-2006 Frances Whitney.