dimanche, novembre 27, 2005

Two Little Girls in London

Dear Wife's Dear Friend and Former Roomie Mary is mother to a pair of little girls, and they both emphatically fit that over-used child adjective, "delightful." I tried to get a quick sketch of the little critters, but my timing was off. Here's a couple of the younger, Megan, while Katie watches TV in the background.

We traveled home tonight (home to Paris, that is—our non-home home). The terminal floor at Waterloo Station was a shaggy carpet of French people (of all people), stretched into rambling "queues" leading to the gauntlet of automated ticket validation, security screening and passport certification. Why so many French folks wanted to spend their weekend in London was anyone's guess. Perhaps they were seeing friends, too. Dotting the dark crowd of heavy-coated continentals were the backpackers, the tourists, the British businessmen preparing for a workweek abroad, all of whom I can understand being in London. But the French? After spending so much time here in France, and coming to enjoy—and expect—the predictable, intermittent bursts and whispers of U.K. English one hears in passing while walking through the streets of Paris, it was disconcerting to enter a sort-of Bizzaro World inversion of this formula in London, where English I had a hard time understanding formed a flat blanket for the occasional satin pillow of la langue français; and this inversion became startling only while waiting for our train. "French people abroad? In London?" Even the French didn't seem to know why they had come, as they all seemed cranky, red-nosed and hacking, with an empty look in their eyes that asked, "Why did we bother?"

They clearly missed The Mountain Goats show.

And they were pushy. Dear Wife was irritated when a couple of aggressive French women herding a half-dozen enfants barged in front of us, insisting that they needed to get through. I was happy to let them go. We were all going on the same train, with seats already reserved, but those around us were getting edgy. When our line merged with another prior to x-ray, an elderly lady made a desperate lunge to get in front of me. I invited her husband to join her. Sure enough, we all just boarded the train and waited in our seats for another half hour. The ride across the channel was full, but not uncomfortable. In anticipation of our travel time, Dear Wife and I had bought a couple of newspapers (in English!) and a couple of magazines (also English!) while walking through the neighborhood this morning. Lots on George Best dying.

The best part of the journey was detraining at the Gare du Nord, looking up and seeing signs indicating Metro line 4, Porte d'Orléans/Porte de Clignancourt, and feeling back in our element, back home (sorry, Mom).