Monday, May 28, 2007

Sorry, Sorry, Sorry

Yesterday's rain proved a harbinger of change. Today, instead of rain, we had rain and wind. Because if there's one thing better than rain, it's rain blowing straight into your face. Personally, I prefer my pants to be wet at the thigh and calf. Dry pants are a cliche. Also, if they're going to be wet, I like it to be about 44 degrees so I can really feel it. That's just how I feel.
Tomorrow promises sunshine, but I doubt it.
Meanwhile, I finally got into the library and did some work. Yes, on a fellowship I worked. The History Police are coming for me, for sure.
In order to do the work, though, I had to navigate a thicket of faux pas. First, of course, was arriving looking like a survivor of the Titanic. The receptionist, apparently working alone because today was a bank holiday, showed me the kitchen and left me alone to make tea. "There's milk in the fridge, " she said. And she was right. When I made the first cup, I discovered that the milk in the fridge was of a very special vintage. Lumpy. Mmm. Cup #2 went a little better, and I managed to dry off enough to feel ok about going upstairs to the library.
There, I happily pounded away on my laptop (after reading the map to ensure I wasn't using my laptop in the "quiet area" where laptops are not permitted. Laptops like to talk on their cell phones and chew gum, so I understand this completely). Lunch was delayed by the rain, but by 1:30 it was down to a mere drizzle, so I decided to find something to eat.
The British have tuck shops, which are like little delis that have sandwiches, sodas, chips, sweets, and little pastries. The one on the corner down the street had a line, which is always a good sign. The line doubled up inside, and as you went down the outside you shouted out your order, then you passed along the inside line watching the 3 food preparers feverishly slapping sandwiches together. By the time you got to the checkout counter, the man simply held up a sandwich and said something like, "Chicken tikka with pesto and avocado, love?" and then "3 pounds twenty." Or whatever.
But not me! I had a lamb pakora and something called a flakey cake. I thought it would be cocoanut, since the famous "flake" bar is...wait, that thing isn't cocoanut. Well, whatever. Anyway, the flakey cake was odd. I think it was cornflakes stirred up with fake chocolate and then pressed into squares. Like a rice crispy treat, only cornflakes and brown. It wasn't awful, and the pakora was delicious. Best of all, they didn't cost a million dollars!!
An afternoon of reading about Fanny Fern (wife of James Parton, cousin of Sallie Edwards, wife of Thomas Nast!) and the proliferation of newspapers after 1833 led to dinnertime (despite the disapproval of one member of the staff who effected surprise that I arrived at 9:30 and intended to leave at 5 rather than 7. My god, the sloth!). I met Charles at the Starbucks on High Street and we repaired to the restaurant where one cannot order bangers and chips rather than bangers and mash.
For the record, I had bangers and mash. No substitutions, no problem. I learned my lesson with the 29.90 whiskey. From now on, I just take what I get.

No comments: