Monday, 8 February 2010

We're Off

"You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."

That's what Samuel Johnson said, famously, a couple of hundred years ago. It's still true. London offers just about anything you could want, and the part of London we inhabit these days tends to teem with delights. It's going to be a real challenge fitting them all inside our bags when we head back to the Tiny Pueblo.

Because go back we shall, on Wednesday. Intellectually, spiritually, physically, we are ready to go. We are homesick. It makes getting home so delicious!

Kim sends us photos of Una Dog and Max the rooster, and we crow over them like they were snaps of grandchildren. She made a little movie, even, with Tim and Nabi's running feet. We get all stupid this way. We love our animals, and our house, our Peaceable Kingdom.

Not that it's not peaceful. We are catching up on our sleep. We are eating like pigs, and probably drinking too much. Paddy is facing the fact that many of his friends have knocked off cholesterol and sugar and drink and all kinds of other evil things. They're viewing things sharply now, without the alcohol and cigarrette haze  that for decades colored the world they shared. They talk now about Johnny Mercer lyrics, runny cheese, Boston Terriers, the Napoleanic wars, the decay of the current Labour government, the balance between good and evil, how to get to Clapham Common from Ealing Broadway.

It is miles and miles away from pilgrims, donativos, muddy boots and stinky galgos. It's probably healthier, despite the city pollution -- without the 16 tons of dust, dog hair, and woodstove vapors we both are breathing much better and sleeping deeply at night. We are being refreshed.

Yesterday we celebrated Patrick's birthday. It was unique. We traveled to south London, where we met up with Scotsmen called Johnny Walker and Big Man. We toured a Redemptorist monastery, heard a memorial Mass for a man from Mauritius we'd never met, feasted fabulously on racks of lamb and liver fillets, and wound it all up with a Spongebob Squarepants birthday cake. On the tube back to Ealing we fought back the urge to sing "These Foolish Things," the closest thing we have to an "our song." It was a lovely day.

I think no one else can say they had the same kind of 69th birthday.

We've visited the World's Cutest Grandchildren, and squeezed ourselves inside Crispin's Wine Bar for a loud, crowded party on Saturday night. We've looked into some fine Victorian and Edwardian churches, bought new jeans and underpants from Marks & Spencer, got lost, and shmoozed with Leena, a Canadian pilgrim who lives up in Highgate but wants to live in Spain and give us presents all the time.

We met with two officials from the Peterborough Pilgrims, a confraternity from the north. They like us, and want to offer ongoing support. Leena and the Peterboroughs are giving us a lot to think about these days. We are not accustomed to being admired and supported this way, not without DOING something in exchange. We have to get our heads around it. (Paddy especially bridles at the thought of people thinking of him as Good. Evil Incarnate is much more in keeping with his self-image.)

Even so, we hold hands when we walk down the Green, and even snog now and then. (Great word, "snog.") Vacations are good. This one was very fine... especially the vegetarian Indian buffet part. The chance to have long chats with very smart people. The break from housework and planning and cooking. Walking the beach in Bournemouth. Laughing out loud. And hearing an Irish priest call Jesus  "R. Lard."    

London's got it all, it's true. And I am so ready to get back to just about nothing.


Sil said...

All the cliches don't do it justice.
There's no place like home!!
A man's home is his castle.
Home is where the heart is.
Welcome back,

claire said...

I am all happy for you to get back. Happy that you had a grand time and are ready to return.
A belated Happy Birthday to Patrick!

Laura said...

Is Paddy smiling?! It suits him!