09 September, 2007

autumnal-ish developments


































I simply cannot believe it's been only a week since we got home. I must just be slow-witted or something, but it takes me a goodish while (more than a week, apparently) to incorporate that we don't get to see Jill, Joel and Jane anymore (sob), we don't have daily visits from Farmer Rollie keeping us informed on the price of fertilizer, I can't call my mother without checking my watch, and there is never enough ice.

On the other hand, it feels more lucky than possible to be back at the steps of King's College at pickup time, listening to the stentorian and authoritative (but strangely dulcet) tones of the headmistress saying, "How good to see you, Mrs Curran," turning on the television and seeing not mind-numbing "Wheel of Fortune" (Avery's absolute summer favorite), but on the BBC presenting "How We Built Britain," a television programme that would turn any American who doesn't appreciate the British spirit into an absolute Anglophile. In fact, John says seriously that if I get an opportunity to leave him for David, he will understand, and in fact he would leave ME for David if the chance arose. He's just that charismatic. I love men of that age who charm department store clerks and chimney sweeps. Of course if you can't play the British DVD, then buy the book. I love it.

Then, too, to help heal the wounds of leaving Connecticut, there is always... a visit to my British doctor's office. Just a checkup for Avery (blooming, perfect in every way, knock wood), but well worth it to read the notices in the waiting room (furnished with sagging leather sofas, layer upon layer of threadbare Oriental rugs and festooned with plaster roses in the ceiling, lovely), and to peruse the covers of the many issues of "Country Life" magazine on the table. Let's see: "Please refrain from use of mobile phones whilst in the waiting room," and "Please do not change babies' napkins in the waiting room." How civilised. And the magazines: "All Hail the Westie," "How Wordsworth Lived At Home," and my personal favourite, "Gundogs: Why I Would Never Shoot Without One." Indeed. And the doctor herself, so calm and patient. And admiring, so I love her. "I do so admire the way American children are able to speak right up to an adult, look her in the eye, actually hold a conversation," she said, which surprised me because in my experience of English children that's just the sort of thing you get. I hope her comment wasn't a sort of veiled, "American children are very forward." Ah well, interpret it as a compliment until proved otherwise, I always say. When she asked if I thought Avery was tall for her age, I said, "I think she's about average," to which the doctor snorted, "I should say NOT! Average, no!"

And London brings the sight of a pair of Chelsea Pensioners, slowly crossing the grass in Hyde Park, in their long scarlet coats, one with a walking stick and the other with his arm through his companion's. You don't get that in Connecticut. Nor a long newsy chat with Becky nor taxi drivers who say, "Thank you, my love, run along with the kiddies now."


Anyway, I find it hard to reconcile the two worlds, and suppose we're stuck with a life in which, as Avery says when she's feeling melancholy, "There is always something to miss." But that's a very glass half-full attitude, instead of being glad to have both. It's made me think of a new title for my cookbook (ha! if I ever write it): "At Home on Both Sides of the Pond." What do you think? I need a semi-colon and a second half, obviously, but I think I like it.

We're thinking too about the death of Pavarotti this week. How's this for a memory: in the summer of 1992, when we were living in Moscow (I was between my doctoral exams and my first teaching job, and John was doing all sorts of secret things), the Fourth of July came and guess what we did? We sat in Red Square, by special invitation, and listened to... the Three Tenors. Seriously! 1992 was a very, very weird year in Moscow, obviously. But it was SUBLIME. I will never forget looking up over the stage and watching the lights play on the Kremlin and the Cathedral. What a time.

Well, I must fly. I am sorry to post with no recipe! But honestly, I had a bit of a yawn-making dinner last night that I intended to blog about, but it wasn't interesting enough to tell you about. Except to say that scallops with Chinese five-spice and sauteed red chilis and scallions is... a bore. I hope to redeem myself this week! My great wish is to learn to produce fried soft-shell crabs in the manner of the Mandarin Kitchen, but guess what? They're not indigenous to the UK, and so FishWorks don't sell them, and Selfridges Food Hall didn't have any good reason why they don't sell them. I've just ordered some from Thailand, if you can imagine, so wish me luck.

1 comment:

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