Saturday, 10 October 2009
The big, red buttons beside the bed and the front door are part of the burglar alarm system, according to a note we received today from Kath, the estate agent. Okay. Now it’s time to read the instructions about that. Apparently it’s quite an elaborate system, complete with sirens and strobe lights.
This morning, Demetrios went into town to search for a nurse he used to know, Sister Joan Foster, while I stayed home and cleaned up the flat in preparation for our leaving. (Apparently, “Sister” is what you call a senior nurse, something like a “charge nurse” in the U.S.)
He found her, too, and enjoyed a long talk with her, catching up. She also provided him addresses of three or four other nurses they both knew, who still live nearby.
In the afternoon, we decided to try to find David and Julia Bate. (Our earlier plan, to attend the Tea Dance in the Civic Hall, had slipped our minds entirely.) Demetrios and David have been friends since 1964, during their bachelor days. Demetrios is godfather to their son, James. We tried phoning and e-mailing them, but apparently all that information is out of date. So we took a taxi to their house in Rainford, a nearby town. It was all we could do, or else miss seeing them altogether.
“Well, we’ll joost have to keep all our fingers crossed, then,” said the cabbie, “that they’re home. Because I wouldn’t want to pay this kind of fare if they’re not.” Implication: you’re crazy. Again, there was no way to dispute that, in the circs. We, however, prefer to think of ourselves as adventurous.
Great good luck: Julia answered the door! “Theo!” she cried, and bade us come in.
She’s a pretty woman, slender, with a small face and delicate features, a large smile with very white teeth, and straight, strawberry blonde hair just longer than her jaw line. “We were just talking about you last weekend,” she said. “We said that Theo disappears from time to time, but then, he always pops up again when you least expect him!”
David arrived home less than a minute later. He had been off feeding the pheasants and partridges he hunts when he isn’t feeding them. (Feeding them in the middle of the shooting range keeps them from going elsewhere to forage.)
“I can’t believe it!” he kept saying. “I saw the cab outside, but I never dreamed…” He’s tall and robust, with round, blue eyes and a long face and a fringe of hair that used to be blond. He’s humorous, and obviously fun-loving. (Very round eyes are a common feature in these parts.)
We sat in their living room, a large, approximately square room with a conservatory attached to the south side of it, surrounded by a green garden and overlooking potato fields. There’s a gas fireplace at the east end of it, and the walls are light, buttery yellow. There are two cream colored, leather sofas making an L. That’s all we saw of their beautiful house except for the kitchen, which is large because David is a gourmet chef. It has black appliances and is very well stocked with wine, the bottles lying atop the cabinetry all around the room, necks toward us. Demetrios says David always had a flair for design.
So we sat and had tea and biscuits (cookies), confirming my hunch that tea as I have always known it is little more than scented water by comparison. Then, because they had a dinner engagement, they drove us home, we all having first exchanged up-to-date contact information. They are to pick us up and take us somewhere for Sunday dinner tomorrow. James (“Jamie” to Demetrios) will also be along, so I’ll get to meet him as well. We have a picture in Richmond of Jamie as a toddler.
That makes 11 friends we have tracked down here so far (not counting the ones in the churchyard). We haven’t spoken to all of them yet, but we know where to find them. Not bad for a start!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Saturday, 10 October 2009