Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Slipping on Gravestones - Revisited

Now I'm in a bar in Copenhagen
And I'm trying hard to forget your name
And I'm staring at the label on a bottle of cerveza
And every fucking city feels the same - Paul Kelly, "Every Fucking City

See sign details below
I've been cleaning up my hard drives. Yet another onerous and necessary task in these days of technological advance when life is promoted as being easier rather than more difficult.

Checking  blogger and discovering a heap of  drafts - stories I'd started but never published.

One especially caught my eye. It's old. September 2010.

Was it really nearly seven years ago when I was in the UK visiting with one of my oldest friends, D?

D and I  grew up a few blocks from each other in Elsternwick, a Melbourne suburb,  and both left Australia in the years when everyone who longed for tolerance and culture - and had the means -  did. When Australia was black and white (well more white than black ...), when Lady Chatterley's lover was banned, and the White Australia policy was in full force.

Now we are continents apart and our lives have taken very different courses. But the bonds of early friendships never die, and in reading my post, "Slipping on Gravestones" I wondered why I had never published it. I so so now. Fond memories indeed.

Slipping on Gravestones,
Notice at Gawsworth, England
Just a few short days ago I was in a small church near Macclesfield, England.

And now I'm 30,000 feet above sea level, on Delta flight 155 traveling back to New York.

There is supposed to be internet access on board, but it isn't working yet. We are too far from the U.S. I hope to post this before we land.

We land in New York - my current home. And despite the Paul Kelly song, every city is not the same.

Despite globalization, despite the proliferation of Starbucks, the Gaps and DNKYs, there are still places that have an individual identity indelibly stamped upon them; their own identity. Manhattan and Buxton for example.

Buxton, the Peak district, United Kingdom. I've just come from there. Apart from the friendships that are both timeless and placeless  - (D, L and J thank you) - there are the local endearing peculiarities.

"One glass of white wine please?" "Large or small?" Excuse me???

Civilization, Chatsworth, England
Tea and scones with jam-not-jelly and clotted cream, recently made into a habit for me and D for "afternoon  tea". Stately homes now staffed by volunteers and visited by "commoners". School kids in traditional school uniforms that they've slung on in a hurry, St Trinians'-like, but with a certain panache -  or is it just that they don't  need to care?

Eccentric  elderly couples taking Sunday walks  with local  maps and hiking shoes - the women without make-up and the men without guile - through the adjoining British countryside, somehow reminding  one that WWII isn't so far away.

The tabloids with their screaming headlines and page 3 girls.

The freeways interrupted by traffic lights and roundabouts.

Buxton, Derbyshire. Just last night I was sitting in a  Buxton pub. At 10:00 pm the local 'teams' lined up for the Sunday night quiz.  Teams with names like "The Few", "Cupcakes" and "The Manchester Balls".  The publican reads out  general knowledge questions - well English general knowledge questions. Our team, the Cupcakes came third. I feel guilty as they'd' accepted my  answer to "Which company introduced travelers' checks?" I said Thomas Cook when it was  in fact American Express.

Not that it mattered. We all had fun and  numerous glasses of "large white wine".

I'll miss D, L and J and Buxton. Nothing can replace old friends. And of course, nothing needs to.

And so it is New York, New York.  My city which I love. So good they named it twice.

But why  oh why are there no tea rooms here? Tea rooms with scones, jam-not-jelly and clotted cream.

England, I miss you so!

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