Friday, August 31, 2012

English Garden Tour:transit and arrival. Day 1 in London.

Of all the big, truly bigsprawlingstinking, rightonthecusp of whoknowswhatnext cities of the world  we've been to,London is the most fun . Great people mover underground. Tiny jewel like stamp shops cheek to jowl with bold be-flagged tourist traps. A city on the edge: a vehicle incident, ripples pass through the system. Three jolts,and yer sitting, maybe in the dark.  It all works, mostly.  Great suits, bespoke or not.  Cheers.

July 3. Fuddruckers "restaurant" (booth, really) at Dulles has elk, ostrich (in season), and boar 'burgers. My elk was dry. Get "Premium Economy" seats on Virgin Atlantic. Six inches extra space is worth it. Decent swag. Much booze, little sleep. Entertaining this sheep w/ Isle of Man TT documentary. Hit Heathrow ground feet running.Turn on 'phone: it screeches WHEREAREYOU?ADJUSTTIME! and curls into a digital fetal ball. It is a.m.;can't check in 'til the p.m. Mill around mill until luggage catches up.London is packed, more than usual. London festival, Jubilee, Olympics coming up. We score tickets for  Buckingham Palace tour, including special jewelry.  Queen's paintings, GORGEOUS, could spend weeks gawping. Wee Rubens: works on a small scale, pleasant seasonal vignettes. Canalettos.  Jewel display was a mosh pit: Chinese have an entirely different sense of personal space than RR. Late lunch, dim sum at Grand Imperial. Spot of window shopping; we saw loads of Queen stuff, "Stay Calm" paraphenalia. I can see where we get the "Yay us" attitude. Must confess to buying a Clockwork Orange shirt, a walking copyright violation I'm sure. Dinner at the hotel: salmon; bangers and mash; lemon tart; Guiness draft. Drinks at the ReUnion bar: Bailey's for her, a French 75 for him. 

To bed.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Two dispatches from encounters between Mars and Venus.

After applying all over the South Shore of MA, RR walked into his town's library and enquired if he could put his application in. Right place at right time, a rarity in his life: someone was leaving, and he was in. RR, newly minted "Junior Library Assistant", is answering the phone.
"Good morning, Tufts Library, how may I help you?"
Two beats of silence.
"Oh, a man!"
"How may I direct your call?"
I knew this would pop up; just a matter of when . Small town libraries were traditionally staffed by local women; men were custodians, box movers or couriers. I got used to it. Colleagues groused about their husbands at break time, relating droll domestic anecdotes. SOP: keep 23 year old mouth shut, finish the smoke and get back upstairs.

Flash forward twenty + years. RR is now "Young Adult Services Coordinator'; ie, admin. He has a nice office on coordinator's row at the headquarters of a largish regional library system in another commonwealth.It is earning a rep as one of the best and most progressive libraries in the country. He is  happy to be there. His colleague next door, headquarters branch librarian, has the sweet spot, a corner office. RR's door is open. He is rabbiting away on policy,developing training, or most fun, buying books.
"Scott? What's distaff?"
"I beg your pardon, M---?"
"What is distaff?"
Rather than screeching back and forth like fishwives, RR gets up and walks the several paces to his colleague's office.
"You are, M---.  It is an old word sometimes used to refer to women. It could be hand held or mounted on a spinning wheel,if memory serves; traditionally used by women.Wherever did you come across that word?"
Survey forms had comment/question areas, and patrons (now customers) would  use them to suggest titles, etc.
"Someone on this comment sheet said 'The mysteries are taking a turn to the distaff side'."
"Ah. Forward that comment to A--.The commenter feels we are buying too many mysteries either by women or featuring women sleuths."