Archive for the ‘Green & Pleasant Land’ Category

Lakenheath Gathering in San Antonio

7 April, 2015

There was a gathering of Lakenheath Lancers in San Antonio over the weekend of 4-5 April (folks who attended high school at RAF Lakenheath, UK). Photos below and at: http://imageevent.com/getdown/lakenheathinsanantonio

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Don’t take my picture!

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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.

Lakenheath High School

19 May, 2009

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

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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.”

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Photo credit: The Sky is Big in Pasadena

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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

All The Young Dudes

15 August, 2008

All The Young Dudes- Mott the Hoople-Juno Soundtrack

You either love this song or you hate it…either way, the clothes of the era are spot on.

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.

Phil Collins Gorilla Ad Cadburys Dairy Milk

29 December, 2007

This is the sort of thing that makes me miss living in England.

Nostalgia & Tech

17 October, 2007

From time to time, I am afflicted with nostalgia. It was originally seen as a medical condition. From Wikipedia:

The term was newly coined in 1688 by Johannes Hofer (1669-1752), a Swiss medical student. The word is made up of two Greek roots (νόστος = nostos = returning home, and άλγος = algos = pain/longing), to refers to “the pain a sick person feels because he wishes to return to his native land, and fears never to see it again”.

I was lucky enough to go to high school in England on an American Air Force base, RAF Lakenheath. I say lucky because it is a valuable thing to see your culture from someone else’s perspective, and growing up overseas gives you that gift.

It’s also a great advantage to study Shakespeare and then go to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see a play, or to pop down to London to see the Rosetta Stone and the Mildenhall Treaure (a large collection of Roman silver buried in the 4th century and dug up “on a bitter afternoon in January 1943” – here’s the scoop from the Mildenhall Museum). We had a ditto sheet with questions that we had to answer (to prove we had actually seen the item) – I remember finishing quickly then walking around outside in search of a pub.

The fear in my nostalgia is real: I can’t go back to the England I grew up in. First, RAF Lakenheath is now a fortress, and you can’t just walk on base like we used to. Even when I visited in 1999 (pre-9/11), I needed all kinds of clearance to visit. But secondly (and far more obvious), the England of 30 years ago is gone, just like the Pasadena of 30 years ago is gone.

Still, something essentially English remains (far away from here, expensive to get to, more than a weekend jaunt). Essential nuggets of Pasadena also remain (City Hall and Pie ‘n Burger). I left England, but I don’t think I’ll ever leave Pasadena–I already have a case of double nostalgia and if I have to watch Pasadena change, I’d rather it happen under my nose.

I helped organise (lapsing into British spelling now) my 30th high school reunion this past August – photos here.

Since then, a wonderful thing has happened. Bill Paul (he’s still ‘Billy Paul’ in my mind) started a Lakenheath network on ning. Better than Reunion.com and Classmates.com, ning has allowed Lakenheath alum to connect (and to see who is connecting with whom). There is a Lakenheath group on Facebook too, but somehow the ning thing has been the better catalyst for people to connect.

Back to me feeling lucky. (more…)

Is It My England Too? On Being a Third Culture Kid

6 August, 2007

I’m going to Washington, D.C. for my high school reunion. Yes, the mighty Lancers of Lakenheath High School, RAF Lakenheath, Brandon, Suffolk, England –well, we don’t know where we belong on this continent. So this year we’re going to DC (last year it was Vegas, before that San Diego, Dallas, St. Louis…).

RAF Lakenheath (<–that’s the Wikipedia article) is in East Anglia, or what I used to call ‘the ugly part of England.’ With England, it’s all relative. East Anglia really isn’t ugly, it’s just not as pretty as the other parts. Here’s a well-known local saying that sums it up: “Any fool can appreciate mountain scenery. It takes a man of discernment to appreciate the Fens.” [Harry Godwin – pollen analyst – circa 1932]

Here’s a link to what it looked like when I was growing up. Note: amount of sunniness not to scale. Really, would you fly thousands of miles for this?

I guess I would, and here’s why: I moved to England when I was 12 and left when I was 18. It is my home/not my home. It is English, and I am American, with an American accent and an Irish name. But because I was there for a long time during my formative years, I am marked by England forever. Along with many of my classmates, I’m a third culture kid.

From the Wikipedia article:

“Third Culture Kids” … integrate aspects of their birth culture (the first culture) and the new culture (the second culture), creating a unique “third culture.” Sociologist David Pollock describes a TCK as “a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership of any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of a similar background. (emphasis mine).

So I’m going to DC, to see the people who’ve lived what I’ve lived. I’m excited and nervous. I haven’t been sleeping. I’m one of three people on the planning committee. The other two have English mothers. That’s no accident.

Here’s what I’ll take with me the next time I go to a therapist:

As Third Culture Kids grow up they become Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs).

Some of them come to terms with the tremendous culture shock and loss that they have experienced. They gain a broader understanding of the world through their varied experiences, while others spend most of their adult life trying to come to terms with those same issues.

Many Third Culture Kids face an identity crisis: they don’t know where they come from. It would be typical for a third culture person to say that he or she is from a country but nothing beyond their passport defines it; they usually find it difficult to answer the question.

Now I feel as if I’ve just shown you my knickers. George Orwell to the rescue to explain the English (second country) side of the equation: (from
this essay, written in 1941:

Yes, there is something distinctive and recognizable in English civilization. It is a culture as individual as that of Spain. It is somehow bound up with solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillar-boxes. It has a flavour of its own. Moreover it is continuous, it stretches into the future and the past, there is something in it that persists, as in a living creature. What can the England of 1940 have in common with the England of 1840? But then, what have you in common with the child of five whose photograph your mother keeps on the mantelpiece? Nothing, except that you happen to be the same person.

And above all, it is your civilization, it is you. However much you hate it or laugh at it, you will never be happy away from it for any length of time. The suet puddings and the red pillar-boxes have entered into your soul. Good or evil, it is yours, you belong to it, and this side the grave you will never get away from the marks that it has given you.

Meanwhile England, together with the rest of the world, is changing. And like everything else it can change only in certain directions, which up to a point can be foreseen. That is not to say that the future is fixed, merely that certain alternatives are possible and others not. A seed may grow or not grow, but at any rate a turnip seed never grows into a parsnip.

I’m putting my blog to sleep for the week. I’ll report back on the reunion next week. Nighty-night.

Open Space Now

9 April, 2007

Good news–there’s a group in Pasadena called Open Space Now advocating for preserving open space in the Pasadena/Altadena area. Sign me up!

From today’s Pasadena Star-News article (link above):

“Open Space Now wants to see linked open spaces going up the Arroyo Seco, across the Rim of the Valley Trail through Altadena and south down the Edison power line corridor.”

Other links of interest: Altadena Foothills Conservancy , Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the link to the City of Pasadena’s Draft Green Space Element.