Tuesday, September 18, 2007

We're Not in Kansas anymore...

It was November the fourth (1979) and we had arrived at our new Duty Station in London, England. It hadn't taken us long to get through Customs and into the main area of Heathrow Airport. I had read about Heathrow for years, in fact I had read some of the main authors from this country for as long as I can remember. I had started with Kipling and Dickens as a child, moved on to Agatha Christie and the Bronte sisters. I wrote my term paper on Chaucer and the first poem I had committed to memory was Elegy Written in A Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray. I felt overwhelmed with emotions, it was so like coming home that I could feel my soul rejoicing. We walked over to a line of people holding up placards with names on them and saw one with Mac's name on it (CPO W. McBride and family). The Command had sent someone to pick us up and deliver us to our hotel and give us some background on how we would settle in. Our hotel was The Tudor Lodge in a town called East cote, in South Bucks. It was a mere train ride away from the offices where Mac would be working in London proper. We were given a folder with all the details that would make our life easier, train schedules, station locations and then the awful news that during our flight, the American Embassy in Iran had been overrun by terrorists and our Diplomats taken hostage. No Uniforms were to be worn outside the actual workplace, only civilian clothes were to be worn to and from work. It was a lot to take in, but our shock contained, we managed to keep the worst of it away from the boys. We settled in our hotel for what turned out to be nearly six weeks. Young Wallace had to be taken to the US Embassy to seek medical care for an ear infection the first full day there. It took us about three days to get used to the time change, but once that was over, everything else went well. We located the school the boys would be attending and got them registered. We found that the school bus (it looked more like a luxury coach, and it certainly wasn't yellow) stopped just outside the hotel to pick them up. I spent my first day alone, what with kids in school and WTHF at work, exploring the hotel, (which had been turned into a hospital during 3 or four wars) and the town of Eastcote. We had had supper the first night at a restaurant called Bernies Inn...they had the most wonderful coffee with double cream...I made my way there to have coffee and toast. I found Boots Chemists and WH Smith's right off the bat. Funny how that works, give me a drug store and book store and I am perfectly content! I bought a newspaper and began looking for a place for us to live. We had a tentative furniture delivery date of December 19th, so we did indeed have time to look and didn't have to take the first place we saw. We didn't want to live in housing, we wanted to live in the Economy (with English people, not in an American complex) so I concentrated my efforts in places near to London, and where the boys would continue school where they had started. Other than the horrific news of what was happening in Iran, the move was going well. The people were so warm and welcoming that it made our stay that much more pleasant. There was very little cultural difference, after all, we were now in the Motherland...what could be different? More than we had anticipated, it turns out...but nothing insurmountable, to be sure. Although I wondered if we would ever master the intricacies of the roundabouts, I was more concerned about learning to drive on the wrong (well, wrong to us) side of the road. Traffic didn't seem to be too much of a concern. But I had yet to see London.

4 comments:

Sophie Honeysuckle said...

Ooh that's the technique of a true storyteller-leaving us on a cliffhanger ending!!! I can't wait to find out what happens next! I could read your posts about your travelling experiences all day long!

Mary said...

Thanks for the award! I'll try harder tomorrow when I post. Come on now time for the next chapter can't wait until tomorrow. Maybe Ill write a little about my one and on;y visit to the USA later in the year. Mary

Wanda said...

I'm really enjoying your stay in England. Looking forward to the next installment.

Kari said...

You know what? I had forgotten that it was around the time of the Iran hostage crisis that ya'll had gone to England! I think I was fifteen at the time. You know that picture of the "crazy eyes" I use for my menopause posts? That's a crop of a picture of me taken when we were all at Grandma's before ya'll left. (I had no idea that I loved mascara quite that much when I was 15. lol).

I'm loving this story line!