Category: London, 2016

Canterbury Tales

September 16
After breakfast at the Club, we take the tube to meet Tom and Judith at St Pancreas Station to board a train Tom has booked to a town near Canterbury, where we will visit Peter and Shelby Fitzpatrick. It’s raining, not great for the day we’d hope to have, but nothing to be done about it. We need to change trains, and our connecting train is delayed, but we finally make it to Sturry, where we are met by Peter and Shelby and walk through a drizzle to their 17th century house.
We’ve been spending a lot of time on tubes. Here’s Carol, holding her blue Oyster train card, and not too pleased at being photographed.

Now, our relationship to Peter and Shelby is an interesting story. Peter was a colleague of Tom Handler’s, a solicitor at Baker and MacKenzie in London, and I met Peter when I first came to London, back in 1967. I’d had a connection to the firm with a client of the firm who was trying to convince me to join Baker and MacKenzie, when I returned to Chicago. Peter, a young associate, was assigned to take me out for a fancy lunch, and we hit it off. Through Peter, I met his colleague, Tom.  (Both Peter and Tom got their law degrees in Australia.)
Shelby is a different story. She is from Mississippi, and was dating our friend, Steve Sugarman, so we knew Shelby originally through Steve. Later, when she began dating Peter, who she met independently, we spent time with them.
We spent many Sunday mornings, buying fresh flowers for a pittance at Petticoat Lane, then often going to hear the speakers on boxes, holding forth at Hyde Park Corner. We’d also take drives in the country to see wooden churches, cathedrals or the flowers along the blossom route. My favorite photo of Shelby is the one below, picking blossoms up in a tree.

We have been in only the most sporadic touch with Peter and Shelby, but were enthusiastic about the opportunity to reconnect on this trip. Though we’d expected to spend a good part of the day outside, the steady rain all day required us to stay inside, which turned out to be a happy “calamity” since it afforded us almost eight hours to catch up on 48 years, which we did our best to do, covering old times, what had happened in the interim and all of our families. In a short time, we were back in the swing of a relationship that had blossomed almost half a century ago.
In 1970, Peter and Shelby moved to Belfast and spent two years in the heart of “The Troubles,” Peter working with local groups. Their daughter, Tesher, was born in Ireland.  They then headed to Papuo New Guinea for six years, where their son, Vagi, was born, and Peter worked with community development groups. After that, they moved back to England, where Peter has taught law at three law schools and Shelby has become a very well-known jeweler.

After a tasty lunch, prepared by Shelby, we got her to show us some of her highly-creative jewelry and then continued talking. We were all too stuffed to eat more than a snack for dinner, before heading back to the train station, after sneaking a quick look at Shelby and Peter’s lovely garden. Here are assorted photos from our time together.

Took the train back to London, blogged and retired.

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