Category: London, 2016

More Meals and Conversation on a Lovely Sunday

September 11
Spent the morning talking with Tom, first in his kitchen then, taking advantage of the glorious weather, outside in his garden. We picked up Judith around noon. Judith, a longtime friend and close companion of Tom is a graphic artist and works in publishing. Though we’d met Judith before, we got to know and like her when she and Tom visited us in Chicago last year. We drove to a lovely Italian restaurant, La Collina, where we ate outside and had a wonderful meal and good conversation.

Here’s the outside of Chez Handler, and our group at lunch.

After lunch, Carol, Tom and I went on to visit with Rebecca, Tom’s older daughter. We last saw Rebecca in 1985 (photos in preceding blog post). Since then, she’s become a solicitor, married and developed into the lovely woman we’d anticipate as a daughter of Tom’s. We spent a delightful couple hours talking about her work as a government lawyer, her husband, Charlie, and a host of other topics.

We returned to Tom’s house, rested for a while and then Tom drove us to The Bull & Last pub, where Andrew and Hilary Walker had booked a table for the four of us for dinner.
I met and got to know Andrew Walker a year before we went to London, because Andrew was a legal writing instructor at Northwestern University School of Law, and his office my senior year was close to our law review office. At the time, Northwestern hired two Oxford graduates annually to help with legal writing. Andrew had a very outgoing personality, rather unusual for a Brit, and as we shared an interest in music and bridge, Carol and I became quite good friends with Andrew in Chicago.
Back in London, we saw Andrew quite regularly, often around musical events of one sort or another. Andrew is very knowledgable about music, knows who has recorded what piece and which is the best recording. In Chicago, he sang in the Chicago Symphony chorus and was an extra for the Lyric Opera. He was very keen on going to performances, too, so I must tell of one incident.
Shortly after arriving in London in 1967, I managed to dislocate my shoulder and decided to grow a beard, as shaving was difficult. With my arm in a sling, I looked rather grubby. One day I found myself near the Covent Garden Opera House. I’d read that the performances of Figaro were sold out, but, I figured, what the hell, I’d stop by to ask. Of course, I was told that there were no tickets, but when I expressed disappointment, the woman in the box office took pity on this poor, grubby American, went in back and produced two tickets for me. I made it a point to go back to thank the woman after the performance, and Dorothy and her husband, Sid, became friends of ours.  
Tickets to plays and concerts were readily available in London, but tickets to opera and ballet were in huge demand and, in an example of English fairness and decorum, were parceled out in a lottery by mail and a certain number were made available in person for which people would queue up for as much as 36 hours. But, if Carol and I were away when a new set of tickets became available, we would return home to a note from Dorothy saying that as she didn’t know what we’d like to see, she had put aside two tickets to everything, so would we please let her know which we’d like. When Andrew heard about this, he became infuriated, saying, “it’s just like you damn Yanks, you come over here and figure out how to beat the system.”
Many years later, in the mid-1990’s, on leave from the large English firm of solicitors, Lovells, of which he became the senior partner, Andrew spent a few months in Chicago at Northwestern School of Law, which I think I was a bit helpful in facilitating. By then, he was married to Hilary, equally as outgoing as Andrew, and Carol and I spent some lovely evenings with them in Chicago. Before heading back to England, Andrew and Hilary decided to take a trip out East driving around to see fall colors and visit various spots, planned by Andrew in his typical, meticulous manner. They invited Carol and me to join them for as much of it as we wanted, and we spent a delightful five or six days traveling with them.
Then eight or nine years ago, they made the serious mistake of writing in the fall to say that they knew that we planned trips far in advance, so they wanted to invite us to come visit the summer after next at a time of our choosing to spend time with them in London and in their cottage in Scotland. Of course, we accepted and had a fabulous ten days with them in the summer of 2009, including an unforgettable day of opera at Glyndebourne, where one dresses formally for opera, as well as an opera at Covent Garden in London. Andrew and Hilary could not have been more gracious hosts, and we’ll never be able to match them if they allow us to reciprocate, as we would like to.
Hilary and Andrew lived in Hong Kong for almost five years, where Andrew practiced with Lovell. Hilary is a student of art history and now paints herself. They have travelled very extensively throughout the world.
We had a wonderful evening, enjoyed an excellent dinner and caught up on recent years and reminisced about days gone by. Here are photos of Andrew with us in formal dress in 2009 at Glyndebourne (Hilary must have taken the photo) and of all of us tonight.

As you can see, we are off to a good start on achieving our goal of reconnecting with old friends here.  Apologies if repeated recitations of our great conversations seems a bit boring or repetitive to you.  I assure you that they have been anything but that for us.

2 comments to More Meals and Conversation on a Lovely Sunday

  • Paul Woo

    Never boring! Love hearing about your friends, and of course, more about your past and present lives.

  • Kay M Osborne

    Love everything but first things first. Carol looks absolutely lovely. I know very well that special look in her eyes when all is well with the world. I see it in these photos and I’m thrilled. Have a wonderful time. K

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