European Community

A couple of old friends from the days back in Flensburg came over to visit a couple of weekends back. I hadn’t seen Silke since 1997, when I popped up from work in Switzerland to see her in Heidelberg. Nicky I hadn’t seen since 1994 in Bad Oldesloe. So it was amazing to see them waiting for me by the fountain in Trafalgar Square. It was a sunny day, so we immediately hopped on the open-top London tour bus, saw a few sights, including my office overlooking Buckingham Palace Mews. Then in a fever of tourism, we took a round river trip, with historical and comedic commentary from a London geezer whose family had worked on the river for 10 generations. Then a stroll
around the world-famous shopping streets of London, before home. Later in the evening we met up in in Clapham for a taste of the genteel nightlife in those parts. All the time of course, reminiscing about times past and how none of us had changed in the slightest.

The next day we met up for some more shopping – Nicky especially was keen on this – before heading across to Portobello Road Market for some much-needed flea market browsing. It was a beautiful sunny day, and everything looked wonderful, silver glinting, brass shining like gold, colourful houses looking very expensive. Pausing only to grab a slice of pizza, we bussed back to the Albert Memorial, and napped for a couple of hours. Silke took some photos, Nicky ogled the men playing roller hockey, and I just phased out completely from pizza, sun and strolling.

Silke and Nicky had got hold of tickets for Spamalot for the evening. This proved to be as silly as you’d expect, and pretty good. They’d managed to weave a tortured narrative where none had existed in the film, and the numbers were all very enjoyable. My German guests were slightly shocked by the big number about how you had to have Jews to be successful in the West End, complete with illuminated Star of David – things are obviously still a bit sensitive over there.

After the show, and after we’d fought our way from the sweaty theatre catacombs out to the warren of the West End, we slurped back a couple of very nice cocktails in a quilted booth behind a beaded curtain, before tubing home.

Sunday was even sunnier, so I drove my guests, and Shuggie, Richmond Park, where we enjoyed a lovely lazy day of picnic, naps, reading, and trying to stop Shuggie raiding other people’s picnics – “cover up your hummus!”. It was a lovely weekend, all told. Fantastic to see Silke and Nick again after all this time, great to catch up, and interesting to wheel out my rusty Deutsch.

The day was so lazy that by the time we packed up, and I drove back and dropped them off at the tube station, and they got the Thameslink back to Luton Airport, they had missed their plane! Luckily, there was another plane 8 hours later from Stansted, so it all worked out fine.