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That time I wanted to pass myself off as Joyce Carol Oates #TBT

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I submitted my first piece of writing when I was seventeen, a story about my first job, working at the employee cafeteria at General Telephone where my mother was a dispatcher. Rolling the 20# white bond backed by a sheet of thin blue carbon paper into my Smith Corona, I typed it out slowly, carefully, on a piece of erasable paper—and mailed it off to Cosmopolitan along with a cover letter. Not just to any editor at Cosmo, by the way, I sent it directly to Helen Gurley Brown. 

The piece itself, meant to be comical, was full of clumsy attempts at self-effacing humor.  I strived for a similar tone in the cover letter I addressed to Brown, completely clueless that the high powered editor in chief wasn’t the one reading unsolicited manuscripts. After I signed off I added the following PS. I could have said I was Joyce Carol Oates. What I thought that would accomplish I can’t imagine. That an unsatisfactory submission would get published because of a lame joke? 

No surprise, in the SASE I’d …

British Isles Friday: Parakeets in the Park

Parakeets in the Park

On a beautiful day in May, 2017 my husband and I walked through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. It’s really not that easy to tell where one ends and the other begins. We were looking for the Peter Pan statue (next week’s post) when we came across a small clearing cluttered with people holding their arms in the air, offering perches for surprisingly green birds fluttering in the air. Parakeets, and so prevalent, and with so many people standing about in their midst I stupidly assumed this must be some sort of birder club gathering. Ding dong me! I didn’t know the birds were wild and the people were just regular folks like us trying to get a better look. 


Doing a little post-trip homework I discovered the parakeets are so abundant in the park—and the inner mile they’re actually considered a bit of a nuisance by some people! I wish I’d known before the trip that all I had to do was bring a slice of apple and I could get the birds to land on me too!

I thought this woman had the magic touch. I think she just had apples.

According to the Londonist ‘‘The birds are obviously not indigenous to Britain, but nobody really knows how they got here. Some say they escaped a film set, or were released in the Great Storm of 1987. Rumours that Jimi Hendrix set free a breeding pair on Carnaby Street as part of a swinging 60s stunt are untrue — at least according to his girlfriend of the time, Kathy Etchingham.”


If you’re going to London and want to see the parakeets, here’s how the Londonist says to get there. (My husband and I took a much more winding roundabout path)
1. Leave the tube at Lancaster Gate (Central line).
2. Buy an apple from Hyde Park Superstore. It is not a superstore, but it does sell nice apples, and the fellow behind the counter was pleasant.
3. Cross the road into Kensington Gardens. Follow the path along the right-hand side of the lake until you pass the Peter Pan statue.
4. A few paces further on, you'll find a notice board about the wildlife. It does not mention the most obvious, green, squawksome wildlife.
5. At the sign, head right, towards the nearest set of bushes and trees.
6. Reveal your apple.
7. You will be covered in parakeets about 2.3 seconds later. And possibly a pigeon.

Have you seen the parakeets in the park? Aren’t they spectacular?

Hook up with Joy Weese Moll’s British Isles Friday meme for more British-themed posts.

Comments

  1. Ha! Good to know. We head to London next week. I'll buy an apple and see if I can find them.
    Thanks for all your support as we attempt this life change. I haven't been around much, but I'll try harder.

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  2. I've been meaning to write about this, with a similar headline, for ages; but your photos are better than mine and you've undoubtedly done a better job on the text too. I didn't know about the apples! They certainly make a lot of noise. I also wrote about the Peter Pan statue on another blog and keep meaning to re-post it - but obviously won't for awhile. Amazing - I lived and worked in and around London for years and never saw either the birds or the statue until fairly recently, on a visit. You're right, it's not easy to tell where Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens start/end!

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  3. I loved our day in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, but totally missed the parakeets.

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