I don?t think absence makes the heart grow fonder, I think it just makes people forget how stupid they sound using the word ‘fond’.
I?ve been feeling very homesick recently and am all excited about going back to London this week. I don’t know where these bouts of nostalgia come from. I’m not terribly patriotic – I’ve never waved at the Queen or bought one of her tea-towels. I don?t brag to Austinites about being British, except for acknowledging that we?re far more intelligent, sophisticated and better at comedy than the rest of the world. But apart from that.
I?m ostensibly going back to help organise my mum?s birthday celebrations this summer. She?ll be 80, so there won?t be any surprise elements to the party. Though there’s a strong chance that she?ll forget everything I?ve told her so the whole thing may still come as a surprise. Except, I hope, the fact that it?s her birthday. Because that?d be awkward if she?d already made plans to take the village pensioners special bus to the giant Tesco?s supermarket.
If you knew the mark-up that Lurcock’s, the local delicatessen and village store puts on a jar of Monsigneur Olivetti’s olive tapenade you?d realise what a lifeline this monthly service is.
The ?party? will in fact be a lunch in the function room of the Dog and Bear pub, attended by a variety of old people from the village, a few old people from London, possibly the driver of the bus to Tesco?s and any living relatives. I think the key to a successful party at this age is to invite anyone, whether you know them or not. Surround yourself with a variety strangers. Far better to do this now than to wait until your funeral when you won’t be able to peer at them suspiciously. Although hats off to you if you could. But I think they tape your eyeballs.
The timing of my trip has worked out well because I?ll be there for mother?s day – the English version. Usually I forget the date and then lie about how I prefer to celebrate American mother?s day. Which of course makes no sense at all but I?m always grateful for the second chance. I?ll see my brother Miles too. But every silver lining has a cloud.
I’m also looking forward to time on my own in a city that I love and am so familiar with. To feel like I belong, only to find out that I don’t. Puzzling over the new-fangled ticket dispensers for the tube, restraining myself from asking everyone how they are, fuddling over correct change and having to work really hard to pronounce the letter ‘t’. It puts me right into tourist-class. I may as well go to Buckingham Palace and get the tea-towel and the nodding corgi.
But I’ve been working hard on the drinking and I’m hoping that the insulating layer of fat will protect me from natural or man-made attacks.