February 6th, 2006


Ipswich, the Superbowl and a Surprise Missed Phone Call

Sunday, February 5, 2006 10:40 PM

Ipswich, the Superbowl and a Surprise

I’m waiting until about 11:15 PM when the Superbowl will start on one of the stations. The ESPN pregame was on NASN, and I think the game will be on another European sports channel. The Sunday Times had a full page on the game and did a pretty good job of getting the novice British fan in touch with the basics. I could have used a similarly focused introduction to rugby, but the action captures your eye and you gradually add to a rudimentary understanding enabled by the stop action and slow motion and the commentary. This is our big sporting event of the day.

I had hoped to be a bit freer in my internet access but I’m sufficiently frugal to resent 20 pounds for the day, knowing I can’t last more than about an hour and a half, and I stop to think about what I’m writing, and edit a picture for insertion, and work at the speed of the tortoise. And, the internet files I saved with various e-mails were in an internet format, so I can’t open them without the internet access. I will correct this in the future, but I’M FRUSTRATED. The caps arrived by accident, but I’ll leave them there.

This morning we set out for Ipswich, on the east (North Sea) coast, north east of London and at about the same map level as Cambridge. The trip began via a 2 block walk to the Bond Street Tube Station (Central Line) and an expected visit to Mac Donald’s for breakfast, but the concession side of the platform was closed. We had allowed time for our usual errors, and we were assisted by a guard who courteously steered us to an all day round trip off hour pass at a slight discount. The concierge had given us perfect instructions, in English English, so understanding the words was somewhat challenging but his handwriting was of a quality that would have earned him employment illuminating medieval scripture. The system, the Underground, is incredibly efficient to one who can’t conceive of mass transit after living in Southern California for 43 years. It works beautifully, though I was aware of dark skinned young men with canvas bags, and couldn’t help rationalizing the day as being relatively low in travel density, and a terrible waste of human self-destruction. The day was not helped by photos in the Times of various Moslem protestors employing the free speech liberties to suggest what they would do to those who insulted Islam, ranging from threats to cut off their heads, to babies wearing signs supporting Al Quaida. The Danish embassies in Damascus and Beirut were also torched by protestors who were allowed to protest against Western free speech with violence. Interesting the way these states control their own political protestors but the apparatus of repression is strangely inefficient when the target is the West. I took kindly to the observation cameras and didn’t mention this paranoia to Lin, but I did wonder just which stations had been targeted on 7/7.

Just the English up early and scurrying about with a few tourists. We reached Liverpool Street Station and purchased our round trip tickets, aware that we would be departing by bus, rather than rail, as the train was out of service as far as Colchester. We would be traveling by bus for 2 hours and train for 20 minutes, with arrival in Ipswich at 10:43, and Rhea was waiting for us with Paul’s Renault.

I will now pause for the Superbowl…. 23:10. Should last 4 hours with a prolonged half time…. It’s on ITV! Odds are 5:1 that I will be asleep before it ends and 100:1 that Lin will last less than ½ hour.

The 100:1 bet was a sure thing. She’s still asleep, at 08:27
I stayed largely awake through a slow, defensive minded first quarter, then found myself awakening for a touchdown to put the Steelers ahead, I think, just before the half. And then, I again awakened to see the final winning Steeler’s score. So, it must have been close.

A false, thank goodness, fire alarm just woke Lin (08:35)

So, now I can turn on the BBC and really feel like I’m in London, as I continue. Scotland upset France (Rugby) as I wear my rampant red lion on my yellow sweatshirt. By the way, Paul Williams, of Welsh…. And English descent, made the best of the English victory the other day, reminding me of my thoughts of rationalizing the UCLA Bruins losing streak to the USC Trojans. I think that Paul is English enough to really enjoy the English win.

And some attractive blonde skier with a chance for a medal, stressing happiness as the key to success. Luck to Chamois, at least that’s the pronunciation. With the BBC, I can even get over missing the PBS Jim Lehrer News Hour, and the NBC Today show which Lin faithfully consumes as I battle to hear NPR. And it’s Monday at nearly 9, and I’m not zipping through the freeways visiting my fifth dialysis unit for the first shift! Holiday!

5 degrees Celsius = 42 degrees F. Nippy, but it’s no Chicago!

Back to an Ipswich Sunday. Ipswich nephrologists goes wild carving roast. Paul did a fine job as a non-sugical specialist.

And here is ¾ of the Williams Family, Paul, Rhea and Cassie.
Cassie takes off today for Ethiopia, to work for an NGO in some useful capacity. She is recently back from the West Bank, in a similar role. It was travelingrhea who blogged from China where she spent 5 months teaching English, an activity that she describes as frustrating. Paul joined her for a time. The roast beef, horseradish, vegetables, Brusselles sprouts, wine, dessert port, a chocolate "pudding" that was cake-like, marvelous all. The company the greatest!

Lin and Rhea recalled their musical fantasies while Paul and I compared medical frustrations and satisfactions.

We, then, made our way back by bus, train and tube to our wonderful room and the Superbowl and sleep. I was both delighted and frustrated to receive a welcome to London from Lee, a Battle of Britain enthusiast and game designer whom I met via Live Journal. He didn’t leave a number so I await his promised call back.

Today, we wander. Unplanned, possibly Harrods…. Sorry, the British Museum and British Library will have to wait.

Waiting, Harrod's and Chada Chada Thai Restaurant

Monday, February 6, 2006 11:10
Waiting, Harrod’s, Chada Chada

Lin will be very well rested. I’ve gone so rapidly through my internet hour, leaving so much undone, and now I’m killing time with Channel 4, and the program is about people preparing for the ministry, Imam, Hare Krishna, Anglican…. Fascinating. A preoccupation with celibacy in the Hare Krishna…. Ahh, life is so short and celibacy has never provided me with company or spiritual thoughts.

I think we will head toward Harrods, south west of Grosvenor square and close to the Natural History, Science and Victoria and Albert’s Museums, the content of which I will hope to discern over breakfast, which is becoming lunch.

Even the commercials on TV are so above what we’re used to… “See the person, not the disability…” Quiet lessons in a place in a very civil society. Or perhaps, that’s Mayfair to a traveler. It’s never been easy to really get outside yourself.

Quite nice, not to be working. We are not afraid, a top website, to stand up against terrorism. Channel 4, again. 1500 images a day at its peak, and now 50 images against terror, of all persuasions.

How to make a pancake, Jamie Oliver, and other internet sites which time did not permit me to record, were featured on the 100 most popular internet sites…. Channel 4, again. We left for Garfunkels and lunch, and then while Lin rested, I headed for a walk through Grosvenor Square past the London Hilton where I stayed more than 23 years ago with Yara, and on to Harrods.

Lin and I met in the book section and she urged me onward to purchase several books: Max Arthur: Forgotten Voices of the Second World War; Patrick Bishop: Fighter Boys; Derek Robinson: Invasion 1940, and Roy Conyers Nesbit: The Battle of Britain. Now, all I have to do is go into isolation for a month and I’ll finish reading them.

We then went to the Punch Café and had afternoon tea and sandwiches, scones, and a café mocha. The walls were hung with artwork from Punch, the English humor magazine.

Harrods is something to see! Nothing like it anywhere. I went looking for a Spitfire for Zachary, 3 ½, who has adopted the Spitfire as his favorite plane, too. I found one, suitable only for ME. It was not purchased because of difficulties anticipated in its transport, little antennas, the canopy, landing gear. I did discuss the top speed of the
Spitfire with a South African who insisted that it was 240 mph. Absurd. Closer to 378 mph. No bets, however.

I received a follow-up phone call from Lee and a suggestion that I would find Motorsports Bookstore, a real temptation. I planned an invasion for Tuesday.

In the evening, our wizard concierge, Graham, suggested Chada Chada, a Thai restaurant with excellent food, in the direction of James Street, off of Oxford Street. The restaurant was excellent, and reasonable. We retired early, and slept exceedingly well, though I did awaken for a tub soaking and reading two of my newly acquired Spitfire books, at about 2 AM.