Ch. 3: iPod…

Okay, even the nice little hotel in Aberdeen charges for wifi, so I’ve given up on my “only free wifi” principle (Groucho Marx: “These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have these other principles…).

Anyway, a few random thoughts from my journey…

Note to self: Don’t ever again take a flight operated by Thomas Cook. Unless you’re headed to Guantanamo and need to get in the mood.

I had to be wedged into my seat. The stewardesses all looked and talked like they just walked off the set at Eastenders (in protest that it was too cultured, in’t?). The dinner was, I kid you not, the smallest warm meal I will ever remember having, unless under hypnosis I might be able to scrape the bottom of the barrel of early-childhood memories. This is exactly what I received: one piece of chicken the size of two McDonalds McNuggets, four short pieces of green bean and ditto number of carrot chunks – both apparently harvested sometime last year in the border regions of eastern Turkey or the like – and five cubes of potato, each the size and shape of standard-issue dice.

A former Soviet swim coach was on board too, doing a truly remarkable array of calisthenics in the one leftover bit of empty space by the door of the washroom. I think it was part of the regimen of psychological abuse. My whole body ached with desire to move like that. Or to move at all. In any case, it was vastly more entertaining than the “new to our selection” movies.

Aside from the touristy bits England leaves one with the distinct impression that it is falling apart. It’s a developing country in reverse. Take Gatwick Airport for example. The washrooms are only a step up from open sewers. A short step. Basic services are just that. And the much-touted capital improvements campaign is like putting a wig on Amy Winehouse and calling it better. In truth it’s only more complicated.

On a positive note, I managed to get into London for a few hours where I visited four churches (what men won’t get up to if left to their own de-vices…). Had Latin Mass at Westminster Cathedral (don’t tell Benedict), lit a candle at St Margaret’s, joined the throngs at the Abbey, and sat alone in the little hidden chapel in Tufton Street, where the great Anglican experiment all began for me 13 years ago.

Warts aside, I like London. Or maybe I just like being back in a place where buildings are made of stone, where electricity was a relatively recent afterthought, where languages plural are spoken, gays aren’t closeted, and people can dress smartly for no good reason other than to look nice.

“And Britons never-ever will be slaves!”


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