November 19th, 2003

gamiila sig #2

Go ahead, make my shabbos!

If my feet could talk, I'm sure they would have cursed me as I jammed them back into my boots the next day. On coming downstairs, even if it had just gone 7, I found Anneke had already dashed off to the shops to get everything in and in readiness for shabbos, which was to start very early this Friday (at 4:58pm). Her husband Bobby poured me a coffee and then left for work himself, enjoining me to a) make my own breakfast, b) enjoy myself whatever I wanted to do that day and c) by all means, not to feel I had to hurry home in time for shabbos. So I made myself some toast and another coffee, and settled down to read the morning paper.

Anneke returned still looking and feeling under the weather, and scolded me when she found I'd used the wrong knife to spread butter on my toast. "Honestly H., how long have you been coming here?"
I felt very foolish not to have remembered that the blue-handled cutlery is for meat and dairy, not the white-handled. It had been 2 years since I'd stayed with them last, but still, I should have remembered. Luckily, my transgression could be negated by sticking the knife in a heap of earth in the garden, and leaving it there overnight.

We took the dog for a long walk in the park, and when we got back, Anneke decided it wouldn't be a good idea for her to join me in my explorations of the city and besides, she had to run a few errands and make a few calls before shabbos started.

I'd read about the appeal several British athletes had made for the government to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece in time for next year's Olympics in the morning paper, so when asked where I thought of going next, I answered I thought I might stop off at the British Museum and check out the marbles one more time before some idiot in a position to actually order them sent to Athens would do so (although I very much doubt that the Parthenon frieze will ever be returned to Greece, which incidentally, I don't think it should). Also, I suddenly realised I hadn't seen the new Great Court for myself yet, and I can think of worse places to while away an autumn afternoon than in the British Museum's reading room. As that meant I would be going roughly in that direction, Anneke asked me to pick up some picture hangers for her from an art shop in Bloomsbury.

At Edgware Station though, I found that the only trains going into the city were of the Morden via Bank variety, which meant I couldn't get to Goodge St directly. By now though, I'd conceived of another idea: the best thing I could do in my present circumstances, was to get myself to the nearest Footlocker and purchase a pair of trainers to relieve my aching feet, which if I wasn't mistaken, if they weren't starting to form blisters already, would do so very soon. So I changed trains at Holborn and went shopping for shoes in Oxford St. On the tube, I'd decided I wanted Pumas this time, in either brown or tan.

I went into a JD Sports and found a pair of brown Puma lace-ups at reduced price, but the sales personnel was uninterested in helping me and I walked out the door without them. I may have had sore feet, but not sore enough to buy lace-up trainers (which I detest) without some sort of sales pitch thrown at me.
I went into two more shops before finally arriving at a Footlocker store. Five minutes later, I was the proud and oh so relieved owner of a soft pair of camouflage print Pumas with a zigzag elastic band\Velcro fastening. They're hip, they're happening, and they're mine.

(By the way, how have the mighty fallen! Up until two years ago, I would NEVER have considered adding trainers to my shoe collection. I abhorred the practice of wearing sports shoes outside of the tennis court and only owned one pair: my fencing shoes, which I would only wear in the training room and on the mat.
Sports shoes, esp. in the white and clunky lace-up variety, are ugly and smelly, and far more expensive than their usually shoddy workmanship justifies -- that was my firm belief.

I changed my mind after traipsing all over Manhattan in my fashionable boots and shoes for 2 weeks, while all my NYC friends wore trainers, or 'sneakers' as they called them, everywhere and told me I was mad not to own a pair in New York. And, suffering from sore feet then too, I caved in. I set foot inside a Footlocker for the very first time in my life, and walked out with a pair of grey striped, lace-less Nikes, which I still find are too clunky and not really all that comfortable, but which did seem to give me some street cred in that city.

I've since bought a pair of fuchsia-and-silver Diesel retro-style lace-ups, and now this latest pair of Army-look Pumas...I may become a person that wears trainers on a regular basis yet!).

Coming out of the store, I bumped into my first protester -- someone in a clown's outfit, but with a piece of tape painted to look like the American flag over his mouth. This was my first intimation that something might be brewing in the city.

gamiila sig #2

Make my shabbos 2

A lull! There's a lull! Which means I can continue my write-up of my London adventures. Okay -- where was I? Oh yes - I'd just bought myself some new shoes, and found out that Bush was going to come to the city the following week.

I felt slightly disappointed to hear that he wasn't going to arrive until the day after I returned home, and that I would therefore miss the demos. I haven't been on a really great demo, and for a cause I felt really strongly about, for ages -- not since the early 1980s, I don't think. Back then, we marched through Amsterdam in our hundreds of thousands in protest against the American administration wanting to station nuclear warheads in our backyards as part of Reagan's ludicrous Star Wars defense shield -- whatever happened to that idea? It must have cost billions to develop, then it was probably binned as soon as the Soviet Union broke up a couple of years later.

But here I was in Oxford St, with a tight schedule to keep and things to buy; so off I went to Tesco's to get Mum the items on her grocery list (we have been seriously deprived of all our favourite edibles since M&S finished trading in the Netherlands a year and a half ago); after which I wandered somewhat aimlessly through the department stores of John Lewis and Debenham's, popped into a bookstore and snagged a Spike calendar for 2004. Pity it's all the same pictures as the one for 2003, but there you go.

Finally, I remembered my original errand and hotfooted it to Bloomsbury. Although once in Russell Sq Gdns, I allowed myself to be distracted from it by my growling stomach. I went into the caff, and had myself a lovely fry-up done: eggs, bacon, sausages, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and chips, with toast, washed down with copious amounts of freshly steeped Darjeeling. An hour later and I was browsing the shelves of the art shop for the picture hangers Anneke wanted. The shop assistant came and told me they weren't in stock at the moment, and I phoned Anneke to give her the news. As there were a few hours remaining before the start of shabbos, she thought she might try a few other suppliers in and around Edgware that she knew of herself...

I went into the British Museum and amused myself there for an hour or two, before becoming aware of the fact that the blisters that had been theatening to form earlier, had indeed done so. I hopped back on the tube, and made it home just before the family gathered to light the candles for shabbos.

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