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!”