Sunday, July 5, 2009

Departure from Kent and Michael's 60th Birthday Party

Sunday, July 5 2009
Isle of Sheppey, Kent and London

It turned cool during the night and what a relief that was all around for the heat had indeed been rather oppressive. I awoke at 7.00 am after a very restful night and got washed and dressed and ate a bowl of Aldi’s muesli (only 2% fat, said Cherry, and, therefore, superior to Tesco’s Finest muesli) and milk and got dressed for the 9 am mass at their small shed-like church where Cherry and David are Eucharistic Ministers.

Mass with a Small Island Community:
The nice thing about the mass was that everyone seemed to know everyone else—it is a very small island community and I really did feel the sense of friendship and fellowship in the members of the congregation. Fr. Frank, the parish priest and the one for whom Cherry does part-time secretarial work, was a jolly good soul and he joked with me when he was introduced to me. I really did like him immediately. He has, what the local newspapers have described as a “scruffy” dog called Breeze and the dog follows him around so faithfully that he actually perches himself on the altar during the mass. I have to say that I am not sure I like that too much as I believe it to be rather disrespectful of the sanctity of the altar--but, of course, this is my personal opinion and the rest of the congregation does not seem to find it offensive.

The other thing I found very disturbing about the mass was the constant wailing of the kids whose parents did not have the courtesy to walk out of church with them even when the Gospel reading and the sermon were on. While I do not expect every church to have a Cry Room as we have in our parish at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fairfield, Connecticut, I do expect parents to be considerate of the congregation when their kids are badly-behaved. Of course, other than this, I found the mass very good and I particularly liked the sermon that Fr. Frank preached—which was thoughtful and humorous and very enlightening.

After Mass, we returned home for a little fresh fruit—I tasted the cherries and strawberries from Mount Ephraim Farm and a fresh nectarine, which was really sweet, and delicious and less than an hour later, we were rushing off to Sittingbourne station so that I could catch the 12.16 train and get back to London Victoria.

Off to Maida Vale for Michael's Bash:
I intended to get straight to Maida Vale for the 60th birthday party of my new friend Michael. I arrived at Victoria in exactly one hour and found the bus stop opposite the Apollo Victoria Theater (where Wicked is still going strong). The bus (Number 16) came along in just a few minutes and off I went, arriving at Elgin Avenue in about a half hour. I found the Anderson’s beautiful ‘Garden Flat’ easily enough and by the time I reached there at 1. 50, there were already a few people including Sushil who had arrived exactly at 1. 30, he said, when the party began.

I had a really enjoyable afternoon and met some wonderful ladies—whom I dearly wish I had met earlier in my stay here in London, There was Anju and Chote and Natasha and with them I had a wonderful conversation. I also met Cecil and his partner Anne and a very nice young guy called Andrew who has promised to put me on to an Anglo-Indian MP whom he says lives just below him in Acton. I really do hope I will have a chance to meet him.

The ladies were funny and interesting and we discussed a number of things including Salman Rushdie’s novels, their varied backgrounds, the ways in which they are all connected, etc. It really was a lovely gathering and best of all, the food was superb. The seekh kebabs and the mince samosas were fabulous. I lost count of the number of small wine glasses of Pimm’s cocktails I drank and then when lunch was served, it was marvelous. That biryani is easily one of the best I have eaten and the raita was equally delicious. There was a brinjal curry and a very interesting salad with cherry tomatoes, corn, avocadoes and olives in a light mayo dressing. And for dessert, the most enormous birthday cake I have seen—a grand chocolate affair with chocolate mouse and profiteroles studded on the top served with glasses of bubbly. So very Yum!

Of course, we ate and then when I saw Sushil leaving, I thought it would be good to leave with him as that would give me a chance to catch up with him as I haven’t seen him since we traveled to Calais and back.

Watching Wimbledon Men's Finals at Home with Jack:
So, we left at 5. 15 when the Wimbledon Men’s Single Finals were still on: people had been gathering around the TV sets to keep abreast of the match. I got home at 6. 00 pm after taking the Tube from Maida Vale station and found Jack at home in the Farringdon loft watching the last bits of the match on TV in the living room. I joined him, very grateful to see him at home and together we saw the match come to its conclusion. It was a record-breaking match as Roger Federer tried hard to break Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slam titles in his fight against Andy Roddick--and did!.

Indeed Pete Sampras was present as were such age old champions as Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver (Australia). God, that aged me somewhat as I watched those old names from my youth. I remember when Laver used to play tennis and certainly Bjorn Borg was the great heart throb of my generation! So, when Federer won, Jack was disappointed as he had been rooting for Roddick, but hey, Roddick did give Federer a run for his money and Federer is invincible as anyone would agree and I rather think that his defeat to Rafael Nadal last year was truly a fluke.
At any rate Jack and I watched the end of the ceremony, the prize distributing, the interviews with the champions, etc. before Jack left and I was able to turn to my unpacking as well as catching up with this blog and a few calls that I had to make as I was determined to talk to Chriselle to whom I haven’t spoken for nearly two weeks.

Then, it was time for me to take a shower, do my laundry and get ready for what promises to be a very busy week ahead with interviews scheduled tomorrow at West Drayton and another visit to the British Library.

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