April 10, 2011


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I sent some marshmallow Peeps to my cousins in England.  It was partially to reciprocate the chocolate Tiddly Reindeers they sent at Christmas, partly to contribute to good relations across the pond and partly because Peeps don’t weigh very much so the postage isn’t twice the cost of the item.  Well, actually it is but the item doesn’t cost much in the first place.

And partially because I am grateful to England for the Cadbury creme egg.  So this was a return gesture not unlike the kindergartner who gives a glue-encrusted macaroni sculpture to the mother who gave him life.

I love the cultural exchange between the two countries.  I keep a file of words that my friend Sue has interpreted for me.  Like “moreish.”  Chocolate Tiddly reindeer are moreish.  They make me want more.   I was made over with them (i.e. pleased.)

It’s fun to learn the expressions here and then encounter them over there.  I was flipping though some brochures in St Mary’s church in Rye when I found some with a picture of the church on the cover but with the inside copy missing.  I gathered up the blanks.  When I showed them to the volunteer at the till, he –to my utter delight—said, “Oh well spotted!”

I had another church experience in Bath.  I was there with my cousins, Pamela and Mervyn.  We usually split up when we get to a town because I have my peculiar interests and Pamela mostly likes to find the Marks and Spencers, especially on a hot day because they have such lovely air conditioning.

It was hot.  I had a Sally Lund at the Sally Lund house while it was still morning, and then decided to do a tour of Bath Abbey tower.  Three hundred steps up and I thought, “Aw geez, you haven’t recovered from the hill climb the other day at Cheddar which was also a bad idea and this involves an even greater height.”  I get queasy at high altitudes.

I went straight to the center of the tower and breathed deeply. Then I crept to the side and peered far down into the market place where people were milling around like so many ambulatory dolls.  The first things my eyes focused on were Pamela’s familiar plaid skirt, her bright handbag and Mervyn’s distinctive gait.

I just about toppled over the edge of the tower. “Look!”  I grabbed the person closest to me who happened to be the tour guide.  “There are my cousins down there, going into Edinburgh Woolen Mills!

“Oh well spotted!” she said.

The street, or dual carriageway, if you will, runs in both directions.  A taxi driver at Paddington, who would have been a young boy during World War II, told me, “I will always love the Americans for what they did for us.”  I gave him a whacking great tip.  He grinned and saluted.

I spent an afternoon at spooky, old Highgate Cemetery on that same trip.  The guide opened the wrought iron gate with a whacking great skeleton key and then locked us all inside for the tour.  As she was unlocking the gate to let us out, we were halted by a thunder and lightning storm.  Very exciting, but the point is that I got to chatting with a group who were old school chums, Julie, Jill, and June, while we waited for the rain to abate.  They invited me to join them for lunch.

At the café, I ordered a chicken Caesar with dressing on the side.  A whoop went up from all three women simultaneously.

“What?” I asked, astonished.

“Oh!” said Julie.  “I have always wanted to hear an American say ‘dressing on the side!’  They always say it in the movies and now I have heard it for real!”

“An English person would never ask for that, or for anything, really,” Jill explained.  “But the Americans will do.”

Oh, I don’t know about that.  They asked us to come over and help with that war a while back.  I’m really glad we did.

Highgate Cemetery, London, watercolor by Elena Louise Richmond

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