This is the twelfth and last in a series of posts describing my recent trip to England, Ireland, the Netherlands and Wales, from writing course to school reunion and more.
During the whole trip, which lasted just over a month, the only serious rain I saw was in Swansea, where I stayed with J, a friend from school. In fact, the rain began falling as we crossed the border into Wales and lasted to the next day. But even there in Wales, in my experience the land of constant rain, it cleared up and got quite hot.
But as we wheeled our cases to her abode, the downpour got heavier. Perhaps we should have taken a taxi in the end.
The next day, after visiting the busy market, I had my first ever experience of a gym. J let me choose the class, and I decided on something with music. I had no idea what I’d let myself in for.
Steps. It’s amazing what you can do with a little bench. Up, down, step, jump, left, right. However exhausted you are, you have to keep going, because everyone else is. Of course, they were all used to it, and they were all younger than us. I think we both managed very well.
Two things I noticed, both connected to my folk dancing experience. One was that, on the few occasions I glanced at J, I saw she was having more trouble following the steps than I was. It shows I’ve learnt something in my 15 years of folk dancing.
On the other hand, the instructor mostly performed the exercises with his back to us. But sometimes he turned round to face us, and when he did that he performed the exercises the other way round, stepping onto his left leg when we had to use the right, and so on. It was supposed to make it easier for us, because that way we used the leg that was on the same side as his.
But I’m used to dancing in a circle, where this isn’t possible. I’ve got used to translating: when the instructor is opposite me, I use the leg that’s on the other side from his. I think I’m making this sound more complicated than it is, but the outcome was that I got confused trying to follow him when he was facing us, and preferred to follow the girl in front of me.
We also had tea at the top of the Meridian Tower, and I went shopping for a few things to take back.
Alone on the train back to London, I again had an opportunity to be a writer, this time using my ears. The first speaker, into a mobile phone, had a gorgeous, lilting Welsh accent. I think it’s the best English accent (i.e. accent of the English language) there is.
“Is that all right?”
“So I’ll see you then.”
Later on, back in England, there were three girls behind me. I observed them as I returned from buying refreshments. They were all slim, all holding smart phones. One of them had nail varnish out on her little table. Later, while I was sitting, one of them stretched her legs out. I saw black suede shoes with very high heels. I’ve never understood how women can wear such monstrosities.
I wrote down random things they said – the ones I was able to understand.
“I just got another email.”
“He’s nice isn’t he?”
“Would you want to do two 18-hour shifts?”
“I’m just doing my other hand.”
“Haha, oh my god.”
“Yeah, we would just go to another cocktail bar.”
“It just bothered me? And I couldn’t even work out why it bothered me? So much?”
Then there was the race across London trying to catch a train to Luton Airport that I missed, but it didn’t matter because I had enough time, and even bought and ate a final egg mayonnaise sandwich before boarding the plane that took me…
As the plane taxied to its stopping place, El Al played the song that goes: “So good you came home,” and I smiled, knowing I was finally…