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LONDON CALLING – Monday, 11 February 2010

We land at Heathrow the following day, of course. Nobody sleeps very well and the ‘meals’ have not been too pleasant. It’s a l-o-n-g walk through the place to get to that other place where passports become stamped and bags retrieved. We wave at Julie on another line and connect briefly with her and her husband, Matt Fraser, once we have emigrated successfully. Bags in hand we line up for a taxi. It has jump seats, like the old Checker cabs in NYC. 

Our destination is a Mailboxes Etc. where, for a fee, we can park our luggage for a couple hours until the four-bedroom apt. is ‘ready’. This cockamamie procedure involves the digital manipulation of my mobile device. In the interest of efficiency, I relinquish it to Joss. Then we duck into a nearby coffee shop for caffeine and actual digestible food. Flat whites! Killing time is best accomplished by walking toward a destination. We aim for a patisserie called Maison Bertaux. It’s not far and its croissants are huge. Breakfast tomorrow has aligned. Next door to the pastry shop is a store dedicated solely to printed Harry Potter memorabilia. The people who created all the HP graphics have their own store. It’s actually cool and I purchase some un-HP greeting cards, e.g. A Movement of Moles. Time lingers, refusing to die. More coffee only aggravates the need for a WC. We recover our baggage from the Mailboxes and proceed to 4 Broad Court, where our residence will be. We roll past a market where some busker is coercing a youngster to limbo. We roll past the Apple Store, which brings back memories of fried hard drives in Western Australia. 

Our rooms are ready. Schlepping my ponderous suitcase up three flights requires balance and stamina. Ha! There’s a moldy smell coming from one of the baths, but the layout, split between two floors, has four bedrooms and three baths, plus kitchen and living room . I think we’ll manage. Ali and Kif retire immediately. I prevail on Jocelyn to join me in a search for a superdupermarket. There’s a Sainsbury’s nearby. Beverages and snacks are required in order to sustain life. She then retires. I putter lamely. 

At six o’clock we assemble to walk to Veeraswamy, a highly recommended Indian restaurant. The meal’s delicious, but I practically nod out in my mulligatawny. The return stroll to Broad Court takes us back through Leicester Square, a hubbub and a half. Tsunamis of high school groups present navigational obstacles that nimble New Yorkers should be able to take in their stride; semi-comatose ones, not so much. London is ablaze with light and activity. We aren’t. Back at Broad Court we discover that all the baseboard electric outlets have ceased to provide juice. Bummer. 

LONDON CALLING – Sunday, 10 February 2019

Alice and I spend much of the day bandying pitiless non sequiturs and rude noises back and forth in preparation for this evening’s flight to London. Kiffi and Jocelyn will meet us at Terminal Four. Family Adventure Time!

The nonpareils I bought yesterday are gone. How? Plus, I need a pair of dress trousers, I decide at the last minute. Banana, maybe. Will they accommodate a chunky-ass fellow like me? Let’s find out. Yeah, the waist works, but the cuffs pool at my ankles. I buy ‘em anyway. If I wear my chacha heels, I might pull it off. At Li-Lac, I score another box of dark chocolate Valentine-inflected nonpareils. In the entire history of candy these are the best candies. On the way back to 54 Bleecker Street, I poke around the superdupermarket with the idea that we may want a light something to tide us over before the flight to London, which departs at 11pm. Tomato soup and cheese.

I’m packed. Ali’s packed. So, we futz. Ali reads a book, of course, while I perform nontasks of complex inutility on my reluctant computer. At a quarter to eight we prepare for departure, just like a flight crew. We sit down. 

Then we get up, bundle into our winter coats, and drag our suitcases to the elevator. A cab appears. The driver gets out to help with our luggage. The taxi’s trunk does not open fully. I smack it closed, catching the cabbie’s index finger. Blood. He has a roll of paper towel for occasions just like this. There’s no real traffic.

And there’s Kif. In minutes, there’s Joss, all leopard print and black Converse hi-tops. At the ticket agent, our bags are weighed. My little guy tips the Toledos at 33 pounds. This provokes snickers from the women, whose dainty valises barely register 20. Security offers no resistance. We must kill time, so, if we can locate the Sky Lab Lounge; perhaps they’ll let us all in. Snacking on cheese cubes and party mix, we babble in the animated pre-exhausted way of un-embarked travelers. Nosh. Nosh. Nosh. Joss looks up and remarks, “That’s my friend, Julie,” and off she goes. Soon enough she returns with Julie, one of her performer colleagues. Julie lives part-time in London and is returning to attend the second wedding of her sister-in-law. We board.