Category: London, 2019


August 4.

After a much-needed sleep, we’re feeling human again. Breakfast at the flat (we’d stopped at a grocery store on the walk home yesterday), then off to the tube to meet our friend, Tom Handler. We actually have a very nice, large sun-filled room in the flat, which I did not explore yesterday, because it’s up another damn floor. Pleasant place to sit before setting out for the tube.

Tom Is a close friend, who we met when we lived here in 1967-68, when he was a solicitor in the London office of Baker & MacKenzie. Born in Hungary, Tom and his family moved to Australia, where he grew up and went to school, before moving to London. Carol and I used to picnic and go to concerts with Tom, often accompanied by our friend and my law school classmate, Steve Sugarman, who teaches law at Berkeley, but who was living in London at the time. We got to know Tom’s lovely mother, Lily, who lived in Australia, but came over to visit Tom. Here’s Tom and Lily in 1968. We also met Tom’s brother, Leslie and, later, got to know his Hungarian-born wife, Adrienne, and met their daughters, Sophie and Rebecca. Tom speaks only Hungarian to his daughters and grandchildren, keeping his heritage alive. Here’s a picnic photo taken when we visited London with our daughters. Tom (with sun glasses) and his daughters are in it, as is Adrienne on the far left. Below is a much more recent photo of Tom and a grandson..

We have stayed in touch with Tom over the years, and managed to see him from time to time. Tom is a sensitive and lovely human being, and we count ourselves fortunate indeed to remain connected to him. Carol and I used to relish his handwritten letters on thin blue paper, which gave us his news, often reflected upon, philosophically. Somehow, he manages to preserve the spirit and intimacy of those handwritten letters in his emails. In more recent years, we’ve gotten to know and love his close lady friend, Judith, who we hope will be joining us for a day later in the week.

We spent a delightful day with Tom, covering a lot of ground, most of it on foot. We started at Petticoat Lane,which was not as lively or colorful as Carol and I remember it, but still fun.

From there we went to Spitalfields Market, once a large flower market and now converted to the kind of upscale area one finds in many cities around the world, with open air restaurants, trendy and crafty shops and stalls and a good deal of buzz. Nice enough, but not particularly my cup of tea; been there, seen that kinda thing. From there we went to lunch at Flat Iron, a steak house, which was quite good.

After lunch, we went to Dennis Severs House at 18 Folgate Street, an 18th century house created in meticulous detail by Severs, complete with artifacts, sound, smells, half-eaten meals, creating the sense that the imaginary silk merchant couple has just left the room before you enter. You walk in silence through four floors of rooms, as if wandering through a painting. Severs called it “still-life drama” and tried to provide visitors with a rare moment to become as lost in another time as they are in their own. No photos were permitted.

We walked slowly through streets, observing and stopping at one point for half an hour to rest and have a cold drink.

After that, we took a tube to the embankment, walked across the bridge and along the Thames, looking at the many skyscrapers that were not there in the late 60s, walking past the Royal Festival Hall, where Carol and I had gone to many concerts when we lived in London, stopping for dinner at one of the many restaurants that now line the Thames, none of which existed in our day. At dinner with Tom, we discussed the meaning of friendship and partners, as well as other topics.

After dinner, we walked back across the river with Tom, as night began to fall, to the tube station, where we said goodbye to Tom and returned to our flat, ready to turn in for the night.

1 comment to Tom


    Staying in touch with friends is such a treasure.
    Hate to hear that Petticoat Lane isn’t what we remember 🙂
    Things do change unfortunately.
    Love the walk through London’s streets.
    Enjoy and love to Zoe and Phoebe.

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