When Wife and I decided to take the family circus on the road again, to the UK, we knew there were two cities we absolutely had to visit: Cardiff and Oxford. (London was a given so it was never even discussed, and we began our trip with a week-long stay there).
Cardiff, because Wife spent a semester there during her university days, and Oxford because that’s where I spent a few weeks in my teens, on a memorable language course. It was the first time I had traveled abroad on my own, and I’ve carried fond memories of the trip with me ever since.
Often, when I see street artists, and every time I see artists that do things that completely surprise me, I try to think of how they get ready for another day’s work.
How the large man in Cologne gets up, checks his water bottles, fills them up with fresh, clean, pure water, and then takes the bus to the shopping street next to the cathedral and entertains people by drinking up all the water, a few liters at a time, only to then somehow get it all up and become a human water fountain.
Travel does broaden the mind, and if broadening your mind is something for you, nothing works better than a road trip. One day, you may wake up in a container in Cornwall, then walk through a rain forest biome in the Eden Project, take a left turn and find a wonderful inn, visit King Arthur’s Tintangel, and end the day at Grittleton. Or, maybe you wake up in Grittleton, drive to see the Stonehenge in the morning, and then have lunch at Bath, and dinner at Grittleton’s Neeld Arms.
Basically, you just learn things.
Today, the world looks a little sunnier. The colors are a little brighter and the sky a little bluer, and I feel peaceful. The reason for that is that I’m sitting on a hotel bed in Liverpool, England, wearing my new £3 John Lennon styled yellow-tinted sunglasses.
Liverpool was a household name in our household thanks to the Beatles, and Kevin Keegan, Liverpool FC’s (and England’s) small but skilled midfielder with a big hair. While I liked the Beatles a lot, it was a Kevin Keegan magazine clipping I had on the wall. “Don’t let success get to you head,” he advised me.
But obviously, I’m not doing “bed peace” because of Keegan. It’s just that the the city and the Beatles Story exhibition rekindled my love and admiration for the Beatles, the greatest band ever.
I have made it. Or, this blog has hit the big time. I (It) now have (has) a parody account. It’s called Son. Whenever something unexpected occurs – for example, when he eats a spoonful of ketchup at an inn, thinking it’s special Cornish sauce – he asks me if I’m going to blog about it, and then launches into a parody narration: “When I was a kid back in Finland…” in a thick American accent.
The other day, as we were walking back from the Brighton Pier, he did that thing and then asked me if I was going to blog about it. When I said I might, he asked me what the blog would be about.
And I said, “Well, Son, it’d go something like this.”
That he was wearing those khaki shorts and that shirt that morning was not a coincidence. He had carefully chosen that outfit because it was Sunday, and Sunday was a market day in Bridport Harbour.
Market day was a good day for a fortune teller, especially in July, and especially in Bridport Harbour, a small community made famous by the TV series “Broadchurch”. Tourists were everywhere on the beach, on the cliffs, and at the market in the customs house looking for the places were fictional detectives Miller and Hardy have chased criminals. The show’s tagline – “A town wrapped in secrets” – worked wonders for a fortune teller as himself.
It was a beautiful night. The sky was still blue but the moon was out, and the streets were getting darker. There were groups of people walking up and down Portobello Road and we could here people laughing and joking, standing outside the pubs as we walked home.
We walked slowly, it was a nice summer stroll, and Son and Daughter were goofing around – Son running into every single phonebooth along the way and Daughter telling funny stories – while Wife and I walked side by side, enjoying every moment.
At home, I don’t really like to be a regular customer anywhere because I like my privacy, but when I’m traveling, I suddenly find myself humming the theme song of Cheers and feel that “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.”
Caffe Connect, the coffeeshop I’m writing this at, has a loyalty program. Collect nine stamps and you get the tenth coffee for free. We’ll only be here for three more days and I only have one stamp on it, so I’m probably not going to get my free cappuccino, but I wanted to get the stamp because I figured the guy behind the register would also be happy to get a new regular.
Back when Wife and I had just met, and before we lived a walking distance from each other but in our own apartments, and before we had started to regularly spend the nights together in either one of them, it sometimes happened that Wife would leave my place in the evening and sleep at her sister’s place two subway stops down the red line.
One such time, when Wife and I saw each other the next morning at the office, and as we recapped our evenings, she, for a reason I can’t remember anymore, said casually that “she only has hard bread”. Meaning the Swedish knäckebröd, or crispbread, a flat and crisp rye bread.
“Oh,” I said, while making a mental note to always have fresh bread at home when Wife would visit.
“But I like crispbread,” she added, and I made a note of that, too.
I was definitely going to stock up on the knäckebröd as well. (But I was also going to make sure that as long as Wife was hanging out with me, she’d always – always – have soft bread to eat).
Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die, and in a similar fashion, I would love to look good but I hate shopping. Not with passion because I don’t care enough, but still, enough to own several T-shirts from the previous century.
And that’s why I am a lightning-fast shopper when I do hit the shops. I have an image in my head going in, and when I see the thing that matches that image, I’ll buy it.
Admittedly, it doesn’t mean that I have style, or that I’ll look good (or at least as good as in the image in my head) but most of the times I’ll be pleased with what I see in the mirror.