“London calling, yes, I was there, too. And you know what they said? Well, some of it was true.”

Thank you, The Clash. Just my way of saying with yet another musical reference, that I have safely arrived. The plane was sparkling new, it served its function well, in that we didn’t crash.

Prior to leaving, my dear, sweet, mother-in-law gave me two religious medallions to carry, one to protect me and the other as a traveling companion. The protection one is working perfectly as the plane did its job (see above).

My traveling partner, however, has been left behind.

Let me explain.

The medallion I was given is similar in nature to this one:

It is an image of St. Clarence, who I believe is the patron saint of jazz musicians. If that is even remotely true, then it perfectly describes my recently deceased father-in-law, Clarence “Em” Swartout. A true jazz cat, traveler and all round great guy.

So having Em riding around in my pocket was a source of great joy and inspiration on this crossing. My plan was to, upon arriving in St.Cyrus, walk down to the sea and toss the medallion as far as I could. He dug Scotland.

Only things don’t always turn out as we hope.

On the flight over I had changed from my jeans into a pair of pants that are infinitely more comfortable to wear on a transatlantic flight.

20 minutes from Heathrow, I got up to change for landing. While (whilst for you Brits) walking down the aisle, I felt something hit my leg. The medallion had fallen from my jeans pocket.

It was Em and I do believe I heard him shout, “You can’t get rid of me that easy!”

After everyone departed the plane, I spent 20 minutes with a couple of flight attendants crawling around on the deck looking for it. Of course, it was gone. And I thought, so was any chance of a successful crossing.

Instead of tossing him into the sea, I had left him in the top deck, forward cabin, of an Airbus 380A. Mind you, the plane is spanking new, and he loved to travel, so that’s not so bad a place to end up.

But, more on that later.

Because of my the delay on the flight, crawling on my hands and knees, I was the last one through customs which ended up taking over an hour. Then it was the Underground into London and to the Sloane Club. Not a Club connected with Amex but rather with the Minneapolis Club, where we have reciprocity. You gotta love connections.

After check-in I headed a few blocks from the Club to the Duke of Wellington. When I worked in London—as a child—this was my local. Owned by the Mercers, they are now deader than doornails.

The Duke of Boots, Ebury Street

While (whilst for Eastenders) it has changed a bit, it is still the same comfortable pub I remember.

After that it was back to the Club to sleep and then dinner across the street at Caraffini, an Italian place that is outstanding, where I write this as I eat.

Tomorrow it’s off to the West Country to visit Nick and Belinda (remember, pronounced Belinder) for a few days and rest up for TGOC.

Now, back to Em. When I lost his pin, I thought it was cataclysmic to my crossing. I was counting on him in my pocket to help me across. Losing it was clearly an omen that I was going down. I screwed up. If I haven’t mentioned it, this crossing has me nervous.

But now I realize it’s all good. He may not be in my pocket. But he is still in my heart. He was right, “You can’t get rid of me that easily!”

Yip, Yip.

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