A warm, sunlit day here in Johannesburg, and Rob and I are home at last. Tonight we will go out to George’s on 4th to celebrate her birthday; it seems hard to believe that just yesterday we were having a pub lunch with Jono in Highgate, after a stroll past the cemetery where Marx no doubt continues from the grave his unforgiving analysis of capitalism and its ways – I wonder, though, would Karl still be a Marxist now?
More important things than Marx are on my mind, however, as Rob and I unpack, and I check work emails and make a few calls, do a little work-related catching up. I am thinking of Mike, who met us at Gatwick on Wednesday and whisked us off to Canterbury to see the cathedral and walk about the town and still the famine with a pint and a sandwich; on Thursday it was off to see Dover Castle and the secret War Tunnels from where the evacuation of Dunkirk was directed and the Channel protected; Friday Mike took us to see the Egyptian Room, the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon friezes at the British Museum, then to an exhibition of this year’s portraiture prize-winners before leading us upstairs for lunch with a rooftop view of London from the National Portrait Gallery; and finally the Design Museum and a long walk back up the South Bank and over the Millennium Bridge to St Pauls. A cab ride to Picadilly, and Mike dropped us off to spend the night with Jono and Hayley. First stop, Les Miserables, then a late dinner in Chinatown before two very weary and happy fifty-somethings thudded into the pillows and fell soundly asleep.
Saturday was outstanding dim sum with Rob’s niece Genevieve and her husband Dave – and then, dear Reader, a little diversionary sally into Tiffany’s on Bond Street, where after some discussion and thoughtful consideration, a wedding ring was purchased – not, as you might think, for the bride-to-be, but for the groom who has never before worn a ring but is rather taken with the prospect of wearing this one. It is simple but modern; stylish but timeless; and I think it looks great, and says a lot more than it shows. There will be more on this topic, of weddings and rings and and associated things, from time to time, as the time approaches….
Saturday night Jono and Hayley delivered an exemplary meal in which their pride and satisfaction was well earned and mutually appreciated: boneless quail stuffed with foie gras and wrapped in pancetta, squid and potatoes, and Hayley’s world-famous-in-Highgate chocolate risotto desert. After which, well fed, father and son retired with whiskey and cigars for a long heart-to-heart discussion about work, career, living in London, future plans, and all the business of life one needs sometimes to share with another.
In short, Rob and I had a magnificent time in England – spoiled rotten in the most unaffected and generous way by Mike, feted and wined and dined with open-hearted kindness and affection by my son and his partner, and in the midst of all this, finding time to do one very important thing for ourselves: choose a ring, and in that act and in every other moment of this whirlwind tour, find ourselves reminded that we have found ourselves partners for life, and reminded again how lucky we are.
Not miserable at all.