Category: London, 2019

Tower and Shorthand

August 9

We started out the day at the Tower of London, learning about its storied and bloody history from our entertaining guide, one of the Tower Warders.Here are the girls, the Tower, the guardians of the Royal jewels and the impressive Tower Bridge.From the Tower, we went to meet our friends, Pat and Steve Hemmens at a cute restaurant that Pat chose near Covent Garden, which we found with considerable difficulty.

Pat was my secretary when I was a young partner at the Sonnenschein law firm, back in the mid-1970s. Born in England, but raised from age 4-20 in New Zealand, Pat has managed to maintain her feisty spirit and delightfully opinionated-on-everything personality over the years. Pat was very close to our daughters, Jodi and Wendy, when they were younger than Zoe and Phoebe are now and so has looked forward to meeting them on this trip. Periodically, when she was my secretary, Pat, frustrated at some new policy she regarded as outrageous that the firm had adopted, would tell me that she was going to leave the firm. I’d tell her that I’d be very sorry to lose her, but she needed to do what was right for her. After a while, she’d calm down, until the next outrage hit.

Eventually, Pat moved back to London and married Steve, who, until recently drove one of the classic, black London taxis. Pat and Steve have three sons, one of whom is a successful, professional magician, one a writer and one an academic. Here are photos of Pat and Steve, and two of their kids with me when Carol and I visited London with our daughters long ago. Steve’s taxi can be seen on the right.

Covent Garden, the old vegetable, fruit and flower market of My Fair Lady fame, which existed when I was there in the 60’s, ostensibly studying at the London School of Economics, where I got an LLM, has now been transformed into an upscale area of restaurants and shops. After lunch, we strolled through the market with Pat and Steve, encountering various entertainers.

We then walked down to the Thames with Pat and Steve and returned to our flat to rest a bit.

We walked to our nearby pub, intending to have a quick supper there, but it was too crowded and noisy and so we boarded the tube, deciding to eat near where we were going. As we ascended from the tube station we saw one of those sights that converts atheists to devout believers. Right in front of us rose a miracle

As has happened since Biblical Times, the Lord provided a meal. And we gave thanks, as we shoveled in our fries and peanuts.

We had tickets tonight for the Proms, a British tradition of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. Tonight’s concert of music from movies was great fun and a huge spectacle, though too long by about half for my taste. Well worth doing, though.

After the concert, we encountered a heavy drizzle and after several blocks, managed to coral a taxi, which did a U-turn to pick us up. Our driver misunderstood our Edith Road address, thinking we’d said Edith Row. When he said we’d arrived, we told him we had not, and so he had to drive us to another part of the city. He quite kindly reduced the fare by ten pounds because of the mistake, which was as much our fault as his.

Back at the flat, we packed and retired for the night.

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