‘Thanks!’ to all those people who emailed or texted that I haven’t blogged again. I knew I forgot to do something; but I thought it was pay my Council Tax.
My friend Misha’s parents flew in from the Czech Republic for Misha’s birthday and very kindly brought me some fags. Misha and I were unable to coordinate our schedules, so she arranged for a meet with her parents to pass on the loot at Weybridge Park. I walked over to the park after my shift at Sam. I’d met her mom before, but not her dad. Oh my God! He looks exactly like Borat in ‘Cultural Leanings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’. He has the same moustache—only it’s white. (It tickles when he kisses you…repeatedly.) I spent a very enjoyable fortnight (it felt like two weeks) sitting in the sunshine with them and Mia, nodding and smiling, as they don’t speak a word of English. Wow, I thought. This is absolutely why I moved to Europe; so I could get cheap cigarettes smuggled into the country and meet loads of new people from former Communist Block countries. I would have asked some probing reporter-like questions about the Communism thingy, but we ran out of words we all knew after ‘Hi’.
Home was in my thoughts this week more than usual, too. During one of my shifts at Sam, a woman and her son came in and bought a load of books. She said something to him like ‘This should hold us on holiday in the States.’ I said to the boy, “You’re going on holiday to America? Where are you going?” The boy answered “Philadelphia”, and the mother added “Actually, it’s near Philadelphia. It’s called ‘Villanova’. Have you ever heard of it?” “OhmyGod” I said, “I’m from King of Prussia! It’s right up the road from Villanova!” And then she said, “King of Prussia? Where the Mall is? Our friends are taking us there.” I proceeded to draw her a little map of all the stores she shouldn’t miss, like the Divine Church of St. Nordstrum’s Rack, which lots of people miss because it’s across the road from the mall. (Pinkie will start crying when she reads this. I had to drag her, kicking and screaming, out of St. Nordstrum’s.)
She asked me what else was a ‘must visit’. Okay. I did mention the American history stuff, briefly. I took a deep breath. “Independence Hall, Betsy Ross’ House, Liberty Bell, Valley Forge, the Constitution Center. But you might not have time for that stuff (buy a book). There’s a great outlet mall in Reading, there’s one in Amish country near Lancaster, and a fabulous one right in Atlantic City. Go to the mall before you hit the casinos.” Her eyes got a little glazed and she was breathing hard. I may have solved that pesky little recession problem back home single-handedly.
The other nostalgic bit came from Pinkie. She had finished her shift as Supreme Commander of the Casualty Department and was leaving the hospital when she met a couple, with their son, going into the ER. I had taught Pinkie well. “You’re wearing a Donovan McNabb jersey” she gushed to the boy. She proceeded to natter on about her friend (me) and the Eagles and about my plot to convert everyone in England to ‘real’ football, by giving positively everyone an Eagles shirt for every conceivable occasion. (Or in Pinkie’s case also, really cute Eagles knickers with the helmet in the talons you can guess where. I hope she wasn’t wearing them. I know she wouldn’t have been able to resist flashing them…even at a child.)
I can only hope the father, mother, or McNabb-sporting child wasn’t bleeding all over the entrance from a gunshot wound while this was going on. No. Sorry. That was a ‘Philly’ moment again. From a knife wound.
They had a nice chat about the Eagles and Pinkie whipped out her mobile and took a couple snaps to send me. I tried to post them, but the quality wasn’t very good. Wow! The English kid’s got a black McNabb; I only have a green ‘home’ one and a white ‘away’ one. (Hint. Hint. Birthday’s coming….Men’s size small or Women’s size medium. And it’s okay if it’s a Brian Dawkins or a Brian Westbrook. Did you know Brian Westbrook went to Villanova?)