The regular mid-week train strike was looming up again as John’s boss realized the end was drawing near. This past week John left home on Tuesday morning knowing he wouldn’t be home until his work is finished Friday night.
I got lonely for some lengthy adult conversation and called Jackie F Wednesday morning. Both her husband and son were staying in a hotel in London because of the strike. In answer to my invitation for a cup of coffee she said, “Sure. I’ll come as soon as I get up, dress and have breakfast.” We had a great time trying to talk while John snitched all the cookies on the tray, played in the sugar bowl and drank from the cream pitcher. She wasn’t hungry at noon, so I fed John $ and put him down for a nap. Talking was much easier then until my stomach growled across the room. At 2:30 we had a sandwich; she went home as I was waking John 15 minutes later. What fun it was to have unlimited talk!
Some people save up for a rainy day while others shake their fist at the sky. $ does neither; on rainy days he wakes up in EXUBERANT spirits and longs to go outside. I lured him to the butcher shop by letting him think he could eradicate nice muddy puddles – you know, stamp them out. He refused to go home, turning toward the village instead. We explored the puddles in the churchyard, climbed through all the pews in the church, examined a model of the church in the porch, and then we found a big drain in the street on Breech Lane. It’s too much to ask that we do these things unnoticed. I was standing in the street holding on for dear life as $ tried to get on hands and knees to see if he could crawl into the drain. Looking up, I saw a red car creeping near us and Vivien Sutton sitting in the driver’s seat slowly shaking his head. $ and I came inside when I promised he could wash his hands; he’s not old enough to know that is supposed to be torture.
We spent a most enjoyable evening with John G (company lawyer from NC). He’d kindly invited the whole family, but we chose to leave $ at home with neighbors Catherine and George (Georgina). We had a foretaste of his neighborhood driving through the posh area near Eaton Square. His flat is on the ground floor of an old, well-preserved building, and the flat itself is marvelous. There is a very large drawing room, a cozy book-lined room that doubles as study and dining room, compact kitchen with all the appliances one could wish for, bathroom and two bedrooms. Lisa was the first to go in his bedroom with skylight and a wall of closets with perhaps five doors of 6-foot mirrors. He told her to open the next to last door, and it was the entrance to the en suite bath! We walked through the little door, up three steps and there was a shower enclosure, separate bath, WC, bidet and hand basin!
While walking two blocks to a restaurant, John pointed to the block of flats where Lady Diana lived before her engagement. (The general area is Kensington.) The food we had was delicious, and we all enjoyed John G, the perfect host. He found questions and anecdotes for Lisa and Kate, and they responded to his interest. We strolled back to the flat and saw his fancy TV set that can give weather, stock market reports, news, etc. on demand by pushing the numbers on a calculator-type gadget. [Do you suppose I didn’t know what a remote control was 40 years ago???] After a little more conversation we had to head home.
Hours after we’d left home George said $ insisted on putting on his coat to go outside to look for Kate. He looked around, was told she had gone, and he was then happy to go inside and take off the coat. ??? He doesn’t care to be left behind!
Today we went to Guildford Cathedral, arriving minutes after the service started. The building was finished after WWII and was the first one to have dedication services televised. It is brick outside and white inside – very light and modern, though not objectionably so. Often John and I have heard recordings of evensong played on the radio from Guildford Cathedral, and it was a shock to us to discover it does not have a choir school. The boys sound every bit as professional as many we’ve heard. The message was also good today. The preacher said the church attracts the MAD and the BAD, and if it doesn’t, then that church should reevaluate its evangelism program.
We didn’t even have a map in the car with us since we left home in a hurry, and the weather didn’t look as if we’d enjoy racking around the countryside. The sun kept threatening to shine, finally did, and we had fun poking around Portsmouth. We had an excellent tour of Lord Nelson’s great battleship, HMS Victory. He was the admiral of the fleet, directed and won the battle of Trafalgar, and was mortally wounded in the fight. There are brass plates on the deck showing where he fell, and markers where he died several hours later on the surgeon’s deck.
John has made arrangements for the mail to continue. A crony here will see to things, and a pal in Miami will coordinate his end. So, for the time being, please continue using the Miami address.