Monday, 10 November 2008

The Star of the East

My trip to London (east of Cornwall), started with a night out in the East End, at a restaurant specialising in Eastern (Indian) cuisine, with two of my best buddies, both of whom are Eastenders, although one of them is now residing south of Manchester, that's still east of Cornwall. I've never eaten in Brick Lane before but it reminded me of Mulberry Street in New York, apart from the different origins of the two ethnic groups and cuisines. Dozens of restaurants, each with someone posted outside trying to tempt in diners who walk along the street in a daze, wondering which will be best.

Colin and Paul always visit the same one, although this is based on no special intelligence about which is the best, simply it's the first one they tried and it was so good that they didn't ever see the need to try anywhere else. We had a completely bonkers evening, giggling and gassing from 7pm until about 11.30pm. I got "home" at about 12.30pm. Colin and Paul are very important to me. We've been friends for twenty seven years and will remain so until we're carted off in eco-friendly boxes.

The following morning, my parents came and picked me up for a visit to my 90-year-old grandmother. She's as sharp as a razor although she's very physically frail and is now blind so she only recognised me by my voice.

I requested the trip east of London to Kent to the place my Mum was born and raised in because it's three years since I last saw my Nan, in hospital, after she'd had a stroke, I'm ashamed to say.

While we were there, we popped in on my Mum's uncle and aunt - my Mum's Dad's only surviving sibling. It was traumatic because my Great Uncle has recently been diagnosed with inoperable cancer and his world (and that of his wife) is shattered. I find it hard to describe the raw misery of their circumstances. Life can be very cruel.

So, over the course of the day, I saw my Nan, her brother-in-law and his wife, my Mum and two of her siblings, my uncle, my second cousin and my Dad. Blimey, that's a bigger family tally than I've seen for ages and ages. probably since a family wedding back in the annals of time.

Then out and about for another evening of craziness with Shazbop and Champagne Hughie - another two of my "besteds". I was due to go out with the two of them the week after I was ill and of course had to cancel that date. I'm sorry it's taken me a year to remake the appointment but am glad I made it eventually.

My next visit was to see two of my closest friends at my ex-office. We had lunch and they declared me "looking like Linda again" so that was marvellous. As with my other meetings this week, I can't describe the poignancy of spending time with people I hold so dear.

From there on to the North of London, to see my beloved Spurs give a complete thrashing to a team from a long way east of the UK - Dinamo Zagreb. What a fabulous evening - last time I went to the Lane we got a complete thumping so to see us win 4-0 was sheer joy. Not only that but I managed to see several of the DSHM (sadly not WHL Sarah so however much I spent three days embroiled with a group of my best buddies, the week could not be described as complete.)

I must say that the Dinamo Zagreb fans were magnificent. they didn't stop singing, even after the final whistle blew, despite their defeat. Not only that but on a damp and fairly bleak London night, they were all completely topless, singing their hearts out, naked from the waist up. Kudos to you all.

Finally, the Bell and Hare, now under new management and sadly without Carol and Maureen. Gone is the sticky carpet, gone is the picture of lady Di over the bar (and, incidentally, the one of us), in are loads of new Spurs photos and other memorabilia. Ahhhhhh, memories.

Did I find the star of the East? You bet I did. Did I slay dragons? You bet I did. Did I find friendship? Yes, yes, yes.......

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