I know I’ve not even hinted at it, but we are moving house today. We’re relocating from just outside of Bath, temporarily back to north London. We suspect we may be living somewhere semi-permanently around Reading (pronounced Redding) in the near future – although that could well change. (This is all work-related. Yes, that awful reality. ;-) )
So the nomads are on the move once more. As a result, I may be somewhat “unsocial” on here for a few days. Right now, I’m sitting in a lounge that is, well, chaos.
My desk has been taken apart. Boxes are everywhere. The removal guys will be here in an hour or so.
A new chapter begins. Have a good day, wherever you are. :-)
July 7, 2005 was like any other normal day. A few days a week I took public transportation – either overground train, or tube – to my university office in north London where I then worked. Other days I drove. I liked to vary the commute.
That day, I’d pre-booked the car in with a dealer for a routine service, so drove to work a bit early. Being near the college, they would send someone over to my office, collect it, work on it, and return it by the end of the workday. Ho hum.
As usual, by 8:30 they’d picked up the car and taken it away. I think it was on my desktop sometime around 9:30 when I first saw the BBC web site update: there were rumors of electrical fires/ explosions in a couple of tube stations.
Very odd stuff, to say the least. I remember colleagues shaking their heads.
And I remember one – the first one to suggest it – saying these sounded like bombings.
Our friends’ 11 year old female black labrador collapsed the other day. They got her to the vet. But before the vet could do anything, she was gone.
Hearing that sad news, I immediately thought of her as a puppy on a 2005 Isles of Scilly holiday she’d been on with us all. Funny how on hearing such bad news one instantly recalls that sort of thing. I have photos of her on a PC in America during that trip. She was an absolute little star.
Our own 10 year old hound (half English springer spaniel/ half labrador: a “springador“) is now living with my in-laws in London. We’ve moved and traveled so much in recent years, they had him for months at a time and eventually just took him in “semi-permanently.” Although he has been twice to France on holidays with us, that is the extent of his foreign travel; he couldn’t be packed up like cargo flown back and forth repeatedly to America with us: we wouldn’t have ever subjected him to that “treatment.” (I’ve read Air France allows dogs in the cabin, but they can’t be more than 10 kilos. We have thought, hmm, maybe a strict, pre-flight diet? ;-) )
I know I’m breaking my no post before Tuesday, long weekend, rest pledge. But there’s a very good reason for that. This won’t take long, and I don’t want to wait until tomorrow to post this.
On Saturday night, we were directed to this on YouTube by our overnight guests. This wonderful singer – Amy Syed – is our friend’s niece. Her aunt (one of those guests) is massively proud of her…. and rightfully so. Enjoy!:
What one can sometimes learn unexpectedly, eh? This being social media, if you like her singing by all means do please share it.
I’m returning now to my UK Bank Holiday weekend. ;-)
Have a good Monday, wherever you are in the world. :-)
We missed the rain: it rained earlier. Back from a morning stroll:
Although I have War and Remembrance with me on this visit to the in-laws, I don’t plan “to think” too much today. (Now, no snickering about when do I actually think!) Simply I hope to enjoy some “quiet” time.
We flew back to the U.K. last night from Boston’s Logan Airport. We’d arrived in the U.S. there three weeks ago on a freezing evening and I’d never been to Logan before; and I was impressed with Arrivals. I was impressed again Friday afternoon for another reason: it’s right off I-90 and much easier to drive to from upstate New York than I had realized.
International airports have always greatly intrigued me. They are remarkable places. Before we’d flown to the U.S., I grabbed this photo of passing aircraft at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5:
I’ve spent much of the last 25 years often as the (only) American in the room – be it with family, friends, or workplace colleagues. As you know if you visit here regularly, I’ve now also spent several years writing novels in which I’ve created characters sourced from some of my (especially early) “travel” and “expat” experiences. They are full of types of people I’ve encountered, and even cherished, and what I’ve seen here in Europe.
I can’t begin to list the nationalities I’ve met in just London: nearly every European country; Africans from Egypt and Morocco all the way to South Africa; Afro-Caribbeans; Middle Easterners; Indians; Chinese; other Asians; Canadians; Australians; New Zealanders; Brazilians; even a few other South Americans. And all the religions: not only Christians of course, but Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims. It feels like a far more “diverse” city than even New York.
I will always remember a Pakistani student, right after 9/11. He offered me personal condolences. He flat out called the attackers “terrorists”: no qualifications, no hesitation.
Enough of this and this is how you DON’T finish a manuscript. My wife had to be in central London early Friday. So we drove from Wiltshire to Enfield (the M4 again, but no Sara Bareilles this time) on Thursday night to sleep over at my in-laws.
I was to spend the day at their house. I had brought along my Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (as well as all other required electronics). I thought I’d have a few hours to do some writing quietly.
In the wake of the terror in Paris, unsurprisingly the U.S. State Department has issued a “Worldwide Caution” for U.S. citizens:
Naturally it is very difficult to “watch everything.” But you aren’t being urged to hide under a bed and stay home and away from every pub. The gist of a “caution” like this is to remind us to be extra-mindful at certain locations, and be particularly alert to what’s going on around us, wherever we are.
Of course “caution” in daily life can’t prevent one simply from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. On July 7, 2005, when we lived in north London, I happened to drive to work that day. I also regularly took the London Underground’s Piccadilly Line – which was attacked by a suicide bomber that morning.
But as we know being at home in the U.S. is hardly a guarantee of safety either. Consider, for example, the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath. That to me seems the closest comparison to what Paris has endured for the last several days.
I’ve been to the U.S. Embassy in London several times over the years. Once you get past the heavy U.S. military security, you’re “inside the United States” in a way. That reality makes it, and other U.S. embassies and consulates, “magnets” for protests and even possible violence.
Occasionally, there are “anti-U.S.” demonstrations in the vicinity – although never too close; British authorities don’t permit that. But they can be near enough that you could “blunder” into something by accident – which is also the sort of thing a “caution” like this wants you to be aware of as a visitor. Especially when you are around anything “American,” open your eyes a bit wider, be cognizant of what’s happening around you, and don’t, for example, wander into the midst of some “anti-American” demonstration because you’re snapping photos of buildings.
The Embassy is apparently due to relocate from its current location at historic Grosvenor Square to a larger building that’s also more “secure.” In Britain. Shows the world we live in now, and probably will for the forseeable future.