Showing posts from October, 2018

Dreaming of France: By the bay, barely [memoir]

Baie des Anges, Raoul Dufy/1928 The trouble with going topless on the beach in France is that while the French may not bat an eye, the prudish hybrid of British, Canadian, and American that I am—go ahead, call me a BritCanIcan if you can —isn ’t quite so nonchalant. Even though I was thirty something when my friend Mindy and I visited Nice, I still had reservations about taking my top off on the famous pebble beach.   The only time I’d ever gone topless before was with a couple of friends at a nude beach here in Southern California, a “secret” place where Topanga Canyon meets the Pacific Coast Highway. An unmarked path leads down around the cliff, you have to tread carefully to make sure you don’t trip and fall. An old, deeply tanned bare-chested man cruising around with a camera had made the whole thing feel creepy, and we’d left quickly, feeling dirty.  But I had that old man, leering with his camera, asking could he take our pictures, in my head as Mindy and I made our wa

Preston, North of England Way

My dad could always make us kids laugh when he put on a Liverpudlian accent, pretending to be one of the Beatles. While Liverpool was only forty odd miles to the south of his hometown of Preston, Lancs, the Liverpool dialect was  slightly  different from the way he grew up speaking. These days they know Liverpudlian as 'scouse', a dialect influenced by the Scandinavian as well as an Irish and Scots influx of workers via the Liverpool seaport. My dad didn't have that terminology; he just called it 'thick'. Thick it is, almost like you've got a cold or something nasty stuck in your throat.  He had left home at seventeen, left England even, escaped to Egypt. Time and distance, and a bit of a determined effort on his part to sound more cosmopolitan had softened the way he spoke, erased his broad north country accent, replaced it with something more elegantly BBC-ish British.  Now, our dad warned in a long-distance phone call, when my sister and I, at

London Blues #FlashbackFriday

Waxing nostalgic on Facebook this morning, thinking about the package of Christmas prezzies we used to get in the mail from our British grandmother, this old post about a trip to Grandma's house in the 70's came to mind. And that's why call it FlashbackFriday. I was waiting for my sister to come and join me in London, as if, instead of being on vacation, I was being held hostage, waiting for someone to rescue me while the yellow ribbons tied around the old oak tree faded and turned to tatters and the days disappeared. As though my grandmother and uncle had kept me locked in a squalid room, or hidden me under the stairs like I was Harry Potter. The reality was that I'd been spending a few weeks at their absolutely lovely house in Chorleywood on the outskirts of London and I was miserable. I'd come down with a simple case of old-fashioned homesickness, made worse by a touch of social anxiety. I felt so lonely I wanted to die but I wasn't dying. I was perfect

A funny thing happened on the way to the laundry room

I'm heading back to my apartment, carrying my plastic laundry basket, heavy with 2 loads of freshly washed whites. The basket itself is pale green, only because I couldn't find turquoise. I am absolutely crazy about turquoise. So there I am, walking down the path, when I'm startled by a glimpse of turquoise at the top of a neighbor's stairs.  My eyes dial in and I see it's a girl, a girl with bright aqua-colored hair, the very same Katy Perry blue I yearn to dye my own hair . The girl, talking to her boyfriend (my assumption from how close to each other they stand) catches my eye, we smile. "I love your hair," I call out as I pass. "Oh, to be young again, I'd love to have hair that color." At which point she peels away from her boyfriend and heads down the stairs. "You should!" she says. "And I'm not that young, I'm thirty."  "Ha! You're a baby!"  But  I'm glad I haven't called h