Archive for the ‘England’ Category

The Power and the Glory: Driving a Red Corvette Through Cambridge

22 September, 2013

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Jacintha Saldanha

8 December, 2012

Perhaps you have heard about Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse at the London hospital who answered the telephone call from the Aussie DJ’s looking to have a bit of a laugh at the British Royal Family’s (BRF) expense. Saldanha put the call through to the nurse in charge who then prattled on about Kate’s condition to the DJs unimpeded by any suspicion of “humor” in the making.

Now Saldanha is dead of an apparent suicide. The woman must have been terrified. She was the first line of defense between the BRF and the ravenous world-wide media. Were I in her shoes, my thoughts would have been something like this: How could I have been so stupid? Why did I believe the caller was the Queen? Now I’ve gone and done it. I will probably lose my job. I have disgraced myself and my family by not carrying out the simplest of tasks. I will be an international laughing-stock. There is no hope for my future. I will never work again. Cameras will hound me for weeks, and then my permanent status as a pariah will be cemented forever. Might as well end it now…

Forgive me for conjecturing about the thoughts of an apparent suicide, but I find Saldanha’s alleged act the logical conclusion of a rational person who couldn’t bear her mistake.

Let’s play the blame game, shall we? Royal Family, I know you’re trying to be like us, but you deserve a severe dressing down on this one. When one of you (Kate) ends up in an institution inhabited and run by us mortals, here’s a suggestion: Lady-in-waiting (with staff), 21st century style. Think Valerie Jarrett (Obama’s left-hand woman).

Kate is in hospital. A phone call comes in regarding Kate? All inquiries about Kate go directly to the royal staff on duty no matter what. Ah, so simple, isn’t it? Oh BRF, how do you not have protocol for how to handle one of your own being amongst Muggles?

Am I missing something? Was such a protocol in place at the hospital? Was Saldanha’s mistake not handing the telephone off to the royal staff on duty? In my cursory glance at today’s news, I see the BRF apparently treated the initial debacle with a “Ho, Ho, Ho” and nothing more. Saldanha was, no doubt, waiting for the next, and certainly less sanguine, royal utterance.

Now that Saldanha is dead, the least the BRF could do would be to arrange for her body to be flown to India.

Many of us will pray for the repose of the soul of Jacintha Saldanha, and for her grieving family, friends and co-workers. I urge the Royals to take responsibility for their own lack of management in what should have been a routine hospital stay. BRF, Jacintha Saldanha thought of herself as one in your service. She believed her error was irreversible, and she fell on her sword in service of you and your unborn child. She deserves your highest respect and honor.

It Might as Well be Spring

28 July, 2009

Watching the Pasadena City Council meeting last night brought this to mind.  I’ll let ‘Dormitas‘ do the heavy lifting.

Extra Credit (I recommend turning it up to 11).

Lakenheath High School

19 May, 2009

I’m interrupting my Vegas series because I just found this photo over at the Lakenheath ning site.

LHS Kathy Soden 1

Lakenheath High School, ca. 1977. This is what my high school looked like, people! (Same photo but bigger, better here.)

Kathy Soden Grant posted this photo with the caption: “The Smoking Area – Can anyone tell me how we got a smoking area?” I supposed we had a smoking area at school because we were all given ration cards to buy cigarettes when we turned 16…just another iteration of the relationship between the military and the cigarette industry. Of course, most of us dabbled in smoking cigarettes or became outright addicted long before turning 16.

I gave up smoking when I was 14 because Kevin Foley didn’t like it. It didn’t help with my relationship with Kevin, but I’m a happy non-smoker to this day.

I do believe that Phil Mason is the guy on the left (in the letter jacket) walking toward the camera. And to the right–the center person in the group of 3–Peggy Gralish?

Ahem. Pardon my nostalgia. I have a clinically certifiable case.

In Which I Struggle With the Season

23 December, 2008

There are so many reasons to hate Christmas as it is celebrated in these United States. The buying-ness of it all gets to me. I don’t want buying to make me happy. I don’t want things to make me happy. I hate it that our whole economy is based on consumption.

But who am I kidding? Some things make me happy. Opening a wrapped gift makes me happy. Watching someone else open one makes me happy too. Afterwards, burning the wrapping paper in the fireplace satisfies my inner pyro.

I’m as guilty as the next guy—I buy at this time of year. I do nostalgic buying, as in: “Well, I have to get something from Canterbury Records because I always get something from Canterbury Records, and Lord knows I don’t want Canterbury Records to go out of business.”

canterbury-records

Photo credit: The Sky is Big in Pasadena

Canterbury Records offers up some wonderful things. My favorites for this time of year are:

bellsofdublin

The Chieftains: Bells of Dublin

Are you about to tear your hair out of your head because you can’t stand another scintilla of tired old holiday music? The Chieftains will save you, along with musical guests Jackson Browne (The Rebel Jesus) and Elvis Costello (The St. Stephen’s Day Murders). Sample lyrics from the latter (referring to “Uncle”):

While the lights from the Christmas tree blow up the telly,
His face closes in like an old cold pork chop

See? That bit irreverence truth makes you feel better, doesn’t it?

vince-guaraldi

Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas. I love the melancholy Christmas Time is Here. I love Linus and Lucy, and I dance just like the kid in the orange shirt.

By the way, The Carol of the Bells is PURE TORTURE, wouldn’t you agree? Chaney approved it for use at Guantanamo, I’m sure.

* * * * *

I always miss England at Christmas. I would like to take the train to London and look at Selfridge’s windows.

hangingsanta1

Photo credit: Laura Porter

I would like to hop on a Number 15 bus starting at Marble Arch and travel through London and see the lights.

debenhams

Photo credit: Laura Porter

A few years ago, The Scout worked in London on a Marriott commercial. He had a birthday while we were there, and I bought him a flask at this very Debenhams. He likes to fill it with Patron Silver and take it to the movies. And the golf course. And the…oh, never mind.

hamleys

Photo credit: Laura Porter

Here we have the Hamley’s where I bought AP’s Tardis Piggy Bank.

* * * * *

Sigh. This post was actually therapeutic for me. The photos of London helped. If you’re of the Christmas persuasion, I wish you a Happy Christmas.

UPDATE:  My friend Adela is selling her muy sabroso tamales.  If you’re in the Pasadena/Altadena/So. Pas/Highland Park area, she’ll deliver them to your house!  You can reach her at 323-691-0073.

Union Station, Los Angeles

30 July, 2008

I’m going to be traveling over the next week. Not by train.

I’m going to my high school reunion – this time in St. Louis. I went to junior high and high school on an American Air Force base in England, RAF Lakenheath. (Sorry to be repetitive, but one must always set the table for the first-time visitor.) It recently occurred to me that I probably can thank Adolph Hitler for this. Or perhaps I need to go farther back to the Treaty of Versailles which pissed Germany off in the first place.  I also lived on a military base in Panama while in 4th and 5th grade.  We’ll ascribe that one to favorable geography.

Art Deco (and passenger trains) make me nostalgic for a time that I didn’t even live through. That’s part of nostalgia, isn’t it?

I’ll tell you something—I have such a raging case of nostalgia that I will probably never leave Pasadena this house that I’ve been in for 25 years. I already miss what I miss—the place I grew up. Time has displaced me from that place. Distance too.

Now I’m twenty-five years on in this place—and I still miss that other place. I couldn’t bear to leave Pasadena and face the prospect of missing it too. Shoot, I still miss Fedco!

My passport does not match the country in which I grew up. (That is an awkward sentence, much like the situation I’m trying to describe.) This makes me a perpetual outsider. When I go ‘home‘ – and it always feels daring to call England ‘home’ – the immigration control folks want to see my return ticket. Still, I feel very content when I’m there.

This weekend, I get to spend time with people who have a similar experience to mine. We are third culture kids, and I blogged about it here in a post called “Is It My England Too? On Being a Third Culture Kid prior to my last high school reunion.

Posting will be light to non-existent during the next few days. Next week, you’ll be seeing the happy faces of my fellow Lancers. See you later.

All photos by Timothy Down.

UPDATE: Wow. I just found out that Edward Lee Howard, a CIA officer who defected to the Soviet Union, graduated from my high school.

Old Blighty – Part 7 (The End)

4 June, 2008

London is not like the rest of England, just like New York City isn’t like any other place in the US of A. So if you really want the full meal deal, I’d recommend some time in London, and some time out of it. Most people go to Oxford, but Cambridge is much prettier (and relatively close to London). There are many other outstanding cities to visit: York, Chester and Bath leap to mind. There are dozens of others as well.

Traveling with an older person magnified the quick pace of London vs the pace of the rest of the country. Here’s my dad in Savile Row, his own sartorial splendour courtesy of the National Press Club, contemplating the meaning of “bespoke tailors.”

We ended up in Savile Row because I happened to read that Linda McCartney’s photographs were on view at the James Hyman Gallery (5 Savile Row).

(sorry, that’s a bit crooked, and I can’t take the time to fix it…)

One of the greatest things about travel is the serendipity of stumbling upon things. After we went to Hamley’s to buy the Tardis coin collector (piggy bank for you Yanks), it was an easy walk to see this exhibition. A perfect thing to do in the morning before going to Heathrow for an afternoon flight.

Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seemed like we checked in, dropped the luggage, then had to go up two long escalators, only to walk through a large, expensive retail area, then find our way back down another escalator to get to the correct gate.

I hope to be back in that green and pleasant land soon.

Here endeth the Old Blighty series. Cheerio!

Old Blighty – Part 6 (Cute Kids Edition)

30 May, 2008

We said farewell to John, Pauline and York and returned to London. We took a day trip to Aylesbury and visited Rachel and her two sons, Thomas and Samuel. (Rachel is Alex’s daughter – We’d met up with Alex in Norwich a few days prior).

It was a lovely, warm, sunny Sunday afternoon. We sat in Rachel’s back garden, sipped wine, and barbecued all manner of meat and fish. Here’s Rachel and Samuel:

We also met Rachel’s good friend, Emma.


I didn’t get a decent photo of Emma, so in the spirit of sisterhood, she here remains a woman of mystery. She’s bubbly and kind, and very witty as well. We had a great time.

More of the lads. This is Thomas:

Samuel helped set the table:

But play was the order of the day:

Old Blighty – Part 5

28 May, 2008

On to York. We were met at the railway station by our friends, John and Pauline.

My dad and John managed to down the entire bottle of Jack Daniels that we brought as a gift that first night (with not a sip for yours truly). Note to self: Next time, bring two bottles.

John’s a bit of a WWII buff. He took us to Eden Camp. It’s quite extensive and informative.

Here’s John and my dad at Eden Camp:

And again, with a tank (sorry, I’ve forgotten what John said about the tank):

We also went to the National Railway Museum, which happens to be in York. A few detail shots from royal rail engines (which pull royal rail carriages):

We didn’t tool around York proper (though I have several times before). John has a younger brother, Simon. Simon has a new girlfriend, and the girlfriend’s sister owns a pub. I’m going to lose a blogger stripe right now because I don’t know the name of the pub, even though we went there and had a pint. Pauline was taken aback that I had a pint…to her mind, men have pints and women have white wine or shandy.

My one shot of York at night:

I’ll be back when I get the name of the dang pub.

Travel in England: Logistics (Old Blighty – Part 4)

22 May, 2008

Just a few logistical things from the trip that may help you if you’re planning to go to England and want to save a little money.

I am a fan of Frommer’s. I used the England 2008 book and this book by Pauline Frommer.

1. If you plan to travel by train around the country (and I suggest that you do), plan ahead. Train tickets are much less expensive in advance. I went from London to Norwich for 6 pounds (12 bucks), Norwich to York for 12 pounds (double it for dollars) and York to London for 10 pounds (ditto). It takes 3 hours to drive from York to London, and 2 hours on the train. Here’s the web site you need.

2. Getting from Heathrow to central London: Yes, you’re tired after flying. There’s an expensive option for you. But if you want to save money, and you aren’t traveling with the red behemoth (yes, I was), take the tube from Heathrow to London. There are lots of stops, but you’ll be too zoned out to care. You’ll also be blissed out with the knowledge that you paid 7 pounds for an all-day, all-zone travel card (tube and bus) that you can use after you drop your stuff off at the hotel (or wherever). If you’ll be in London for a few days, consider a 3-day pass.

3. The infamous Terminal 5: After the initial bumps, it seems to be running smoothly. Arriving there was simple, and it’s easy to get to the tube.

Departing from Terminal 5: Check in is easy, but note which gate you will be departing from. We departed from a B gate, which means a trip on a train after going through security. It doesn’t take long, but factor it in since British Airways closes the doors 20 minutes before the flight takes off.

Terminal 5 is a giant mall. Bleech.

A friendly face in Terminal 5:

4. Riding the bus in London can be slow, but you see more. The first thing we did was hop on the #15 bus from Marble Arch. We ended up at St. Paul’s Cathedral and walked right into a choral evensong. Lovely.

5. Frommer’s says that cheap eats in London can be had via chain restaurants. I concur. Lucky for us, Tyburn of Wetherspoon was right across the street from where we stayed. Full English breakfast for cheap. Cheap affordable drinks at the end of the day.

No self-respecting American tourist would ever go to Cheers in London. Except self-respecting tourists who are stretching their money like me. We happened to go for happy hour (4:00 – 7:30 pm) – drinks are half price and there are several nice food options (read: inexpensive dinner).

Out of time. Bye for now.