I’m definitely back in my Weybridge groove now that Scary’s gone back to the States; I’m busy with stuff. I’ve got engagements/commitments in my diary already well into 2011. But I’m hoping to fit in a short trip to Italia (Amalfi to be specific) at the end of August, and another visit to Philly in September if I can make the time.
In a conversation with Princie the other night he tried to con me into flying home now, promising “If you come home for your birthday, I’ll make it worth your while.” I can’t; I have too many commitments. And my diary is nicely filled with upcoming Birthday Do’s, thank you very much.
What have I been up to? Let me think… I went to hear a pub band, Normal, with JDavid at the Ashtree. I had dinner with Brenda, lunch with Hazel, and coffee with various folks. I went to Book Club. I hated the book: ‘The Garden of the Finzi-Continis’ by Giorgio Bassani. I just didn’t get it. That never happens to me. At least with books. Lots of other people in Book Group didn’t like it either, so I didn’t feel so clueless. I hear the film was much better.
I represented NWSS at a seminar on Volunteerism at Nightingale House in London with Jenny and Gay. In a new variation of ‘Weybridge is a small town’, ‘Jewish England is an even smaller community’. I actually met three people I knew from other functions or programs I’d attended. Strangely, the woman who sat next to me at the luncheon was from Sunderland. I recognized her accent right away. She works for Chai Care, the Jewish Cancer Program. She’s Orthodox, and as I suspected, she didn’t know BooBoo from the good old days up North.
There was an Annual Meeting at the Senior Centre and a special luncheon. And an election. Lucky us on the Committee; we all got re-elected. This week I’m escorting another coach trip; this one’s to the Seaside- Eastbourne.
And then more coffee dates, more meals with friends, and, of course, Syn. I was pleased to note that our rabbi had taken my suggestion to heart and changed her hairstyle. She said I was the first person who ever commented about her hair. “Oh” I said, flustered, “I just figured you were a girl before you became a rabbi, so… Um… I really like your sermons. You should wear black less often. I don’t think it’s your color. Want to go shopping together? Maybe in King of Prussia?”
I went out to lunch after Syn with a friend, Estelle. She’d been a guest on a radio program on BBC2, and told me all about it. The topic was Martin Luther King, Jr. Really.
The background is that Estelle’s husband, Michael, who sadly passed away last year, became a part of American history by pure chance. He was the attorney on call for the weekend Immigration detained a man traveling into England on a Canadian passport. (What is it about those folks at Immigration? Seriously.) That man turned out to actually be James Earl Ray, who assassinated MLK.
Needless to say, it was a pretty tense situation and after legal maneuvering on all sides, Ray was eventually extradited back to the United States to stand trial. Estelle’s husband had become so intrigued by the case that he went to the US for the trial, in an unofficial capacity.
I was so fascinated that Estelle invited me back to hers for coffee to look at Michael’s files on the case. I actually held in my hands the official autopsy report from the State of Tennessee (with an appostile, red ribbons and everything) on King. At the time of death, King’s blood alcohol level was .01. You read that here first.
There was even a letter to Michael from James Earl Ray, using the alias of Ramon George Sneyd, the name on the Canadian passport, from Wandsworth Prison in his own handwriting discussing legal strategies to block the extradition. There were several letters from Klu Klux Klan leaders applauding King’s death, with liberal use of ‘the N word’.
In another twist of fate, Zachary, Princie’s gorgeous son, has been on an Etgar Tour this summer. Etgar is a Jewish organization with a political voice that takes Jewish teens on a national tour focusing on social action. Zach’s tour included both Memphis, where King was assassinated, and Atlanta, where the MLK Library is located.
The participants’ blogs from their various sites, which Princie faithfully posted to Facebook, have been astute, funny, interesting, thought-provoking and, occasionally, made me cry.
Zach learned a lot during Etgar; I learned a lot sitting in a garden in Weybridge.