“The world is there, the world is not awaiting our interpretations but unresisting when we compose them and it may be that the mere semblance of the world’s acquiescence to our metaphor-making leads us deeper and deeper into illusion.” Joyce Carol Oates
AN AMERICAN IN…UM…LEICESTER: Or I used to love jet lag, but I was so much younger then.
“This year, of course, entertaining our crowd (for my husband’s birthday) at our usual multi-star Michelin hotspots would simply not do…We ultimately picked the cozier restaurant—even though it ended up costing us more, so eager was the more chic outfit to host the party. Why spend the extra bucks? Because our chosen place is distinctly low-profile and rarely mentioned in the press.”
No, those are not my words, although we did just recently celebrate The Mister’s fiftieth birthday. The quote above comes from the wife of the CEO of one of the biggest TARP recipients, of late deprived of ostentatious opulence. On my fiftieth—which still appears closer in the rear view memory mirror although it is many, many miles down the road—The Mister and I hiked into the Grand Canyon for a very nearly overwhelming experience in the land of the Havasupi Nation, which bears retelling someday.
For The Mister’s fiftieth we flew out of Newark International airport on the last day of March and found our sleepy, fool hearty selves in the Midlands in England on the first morning of April. And just like the newly frugal rich, we didn’t use the company plane; though we saw no sign of even a lone paparazzo staked out at the arrivals terminal at Birmingham International airport; just the early morning welcome on the smiling face of our friend Jazz. She bravely navigated the rush hour motorway back to Montague Road in Leicester before heading off to her office.
The Contessa, whose comfortable house on Montague Road she so generously made available to us for the next five nights was about to head back to the airport. She was on her way to one of the 70 islands of the Orkney archipelago to the north of the mainland of Scotland in search of family history. Both of her parents are Celtic; neither side landowners, and she supposes they were probably warring tribal robbers from the English Scottish border region. The cast of characters on my maternal side lists French Canadian fur thieves, so there’s a romantic link to our friendship. But before she left we three enjoyed a much-anticipated breakfast at The Jones Café on Queens Road within steps of The Contessa’s front door; veggie for me and The Mister. Over a traditional English breakfast, though free of meat—Quorn bangers (yay, no pigs), beans, potatoes, mushrooms, and tomatoes—she handed us the keys to her house and garden and left us in charge of her chatty gray cat, dubbed Pusskin.After breakfast, The Mister and I curled into the only nap (or kip as they say) that we would manage in a hectic, non-stop week. We were looking forward to catching up with friends before they left for the Easter holidays, a birthday party for The Mister, and four of his gigs in addition to a live interview on BBC Radio Leicester—all in a week. The first gig was only hours away.