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Monday, December 31, 2012

The Last Day of the Year

... to most of you, unless you are in the Home Office, or one of their minions, a magistrate, or a pissy bank manager or two, Comrade Zero's bot, or anyone involved in governing the borough of Hounslow (even if their mothers are Welsh.)  [My musical theatre friends should get the last reference.]  I'm trying to remember  a year of my life worse than this one.  I can think of one or two that equaled it - but not many.  2011 at least had the bittersweet joy of being married to Q.  The long-awaited visa eventually came through - and for spite they had sat on it another month after they put the stamp in the visa.  Had they sent it on time it would have made my life a lot easier  - so most of the year was spent fighting the government and still to date not having satisfaction of what is still owed me by the government.  So I've had to work with the MP and ending up in the process writing to the Queen - and got letter back from same, or at least her minion.  Those bastards at the UKBA also tried to say that they only processed visas "out of order for exceptional circumstances."    And of course, it's not just Theresa May's Home office that is so messed up -- it's pretty much the entire UK Border Agency.

I will not write here the detail I wrote to the Queen,  but all I can say is I wish it were the days when heads could roll.  I also need to also find justice for Q. regards the outstanding medical issues for possible malpractice.   I haven't been able to file a needed lawsuit for lack of money - mostly due to government inaction on the visa and all the tumble down effect that had on my life.    And there are still other Q issues to solve which I won't go into here.

Physically I've been fighting an off and on  iron deficiency which really took a major toll too and was pretty debilitating. Thanks to Mac M. and Juliet W. for pinpointing what was physically wrong.  Have yet to use the NHS and really don't intend to unless hit by a bus and it's involuntary.   Have had "issues" with various institutions including courts.   Did you know so-called magistrates can be so pissy as to not give their name or bank managers so ****ing lazy and incompetent to not cash a crummy check for £120 pounds when you bring ID in person, even though it is drawn on that bank?  I'm contemplating picketing along with a formal complaint to whatever board handles that - even if they don't find in my favor, it will cost them £500 pounds in having an investigation on them - so a certain arrogant SOB bank "manager" might get a boot up his buns.  "Rags" was such a little weasel trying to take his name off his tie when I demanded to see it.  And of course, it's not just Theresa May's Home office that is so messed up -- pretty much the entire UKBA.

I can count a handful of days that were good.  I managed to go to the theatre 4 times this year - saw Sweeny Todd, which I'd never seen before (was always waiting for a good production.)  Also saw One Man, Two Governors and the Reduced Shakespeare Company's Olympic's special, and The King's Speech.  And Juliet W. also took me to the proms one night, so I finally got to experience that.  It was my first time in the Albert Hall.  All I kept thinking of was the Hitchcock movie...a lot of the nights people go really casually dressed,   You can sit up in the Gods for only £5 a lot of the nights.  Not much seating area, but people bring blankets and you can  bring a stash of food in.   So it's all good.  All that marble is especially welcome on a warm night.

 I got to go to Henley 3 times this year - twice for the Regatta and once for the informal Town and Country a month later - where I presented an award for the ladies single intermediate skulls winner.  It was an event that Q sponsored annually.  I hope I did my Qbunny proud.

Because I presented a prize, I also got a free boat ride to trail the race in a nifty long boat that looks like the one in the foreground of this picture.  There are splendid houses like this all up and down this stretch of the river.  While here I met a friend of a friend who lives in one of them.  Must be nice!!  By chance when I was about 14 I read a National Geographic coffee table book called "This England" that was published in the early 60s.  I said to myself then:  "Someday...."  I didn't know that "someday" I'd get to step into the picture literally.

This is me with Diana D - she and her husband David were good Henley friends of Q and have been really kind to me.  This was taken late June on the Wednesday of Henley week, so still uncrowded - I didn't want to go up on the weekend.  Too crazy!  We were properly dressed (anyone can go, but you can't get into the Steward's Enclosure in just anything.  It does make the event fun.  The MEN get to be the peacocks at this event.  The women get to be peacocks at Ascot.  My Qbunny, had that English sense of dressing right for the occasion, and I knew he would have thought the ladies in the next picture's foreground, nicely dressed as they are, OVERDRESSED - which to him was almost as big a sartorial sin as being under dressed.

He would have said:  "that's ASCOT dress, not Henley."  Straw hats are the thing, and not too fussy.  Notice the complete ice-cream suit of the man just over the left of Diana's shoulder in the 1st pic.  Also for ladies LOW shoes, with small stacked heel at most, skirt/dress, knee length at least.  You *will* be called on it for short skirt and they'd chuck you out of the enclosure.  It's dressy SPORTY - but not "dressy/Ascot."  It's worth clicking on the picture to see the detail of the men's jackets.

I think the most splendid jacket I saw was this one.  Can you imagine any male in the US wearing this as a matter of course for the right event?  I like to think of Henley as "the best of England."  And the ritual is there not for people to play act in.  Most of them genuinely do like the boat races.  Although they *are* seen, they do not, for the most part, go to *be* seen.  If that makes sense.  By chance, when I was in my last year at UCSD I did do a bit of rowing myself - and have to say it was very fun!

 I didn't realize the true impact of "the River[Thames]" until I'd lived here.  And yet in English history, legend, story, and life it's all there.  It's not just Henley itself - but it's all that Wind in the Willows, "THE" 'boat race' between Oxford and Cambridge, punting on the Thames [thank you Dorothy Sayers for the unforgettable punting scene in Gaudy Night with Peter and Harriet], river pageants, Isaac Walton mystique.  IF you've seen the movie "Hope and Glory" there's an idyllic bit at the end of the family going to live with granddad along the river.  It represents "peace and tranquility and all being right."  It plays a bigger life in the English mind than you'd think.  Or certainly amongst "Q's" kind of people.  His parents told me one of the proudest days of Q's life was when he qualified to be a judge at boat races.  I'm VERY glad he did NOT see the debacle THE 2012 boat race was, whereby one spoilsport thoroughly ruined the race and it effected the outcome of the race too.  Had Q seen that I think he would have jumped through the TV set, and had his hands around the perp's throat before the coppers did.  As it was, the perp almost had his head decapitated by an oar.  Q had asked me early in our relationship which I preferred?  Oxford or Cambridge?  And I said "Oxford of course."  He was glad he finally had an ally. Since he was about 4 he always rooted for Oxford and mom and dad always rooted for Cambridge.  Amongst certain people the rivalry is like the Army/Navy game in the US.

Did go out to Windsor once, and hope to go soon again - the ticket's good until mid-April, and I think I can handle the walking again.  Parking can be hard to find in Windsor - but I can catch a bus outside my front door up to Feltham train station (about a mile from here - or I can hoof it, if I'm up to it) - then the train to Windsor is only about 20 minutes and it ends up right at the foot of the hill up to Windsor, and not far from Eton college.  It's only about 12 miles away.   Before I lived here I'd always visited Windsor -- I especially like the gardens and St. George's which is pretty splendid.  Quite a number of English monarchs, including the Queen's dad are buried here.

Fr. John Boyle was in London briefly, so got to have lunch with him, and finally meet him in person.   Also had nice Italian lunch with Stephen F. from Manchester who was in London for the day.   Stephen is an old friend who I've known through the internet for ages - we'd also met a few times before when he was in San Diego.  I'd also scored a copy of the libretto from FOLLIES that day when we stopped by Samuel French - it was something I'd long wanted and it had been reissued, unbeknownst to me - so it was a pleasant surprise.

I'd also been out to Blackfen and Our Lady of the Rosary this year.  Mac M has been most supportive.  Was out for a blogonic in February, and was VERY fortunate to arrange for Q to have Fr. Tim's 10:30 Saturday Latin Mass be offered for Q on Oct 21st - his one year anniversary of death. The picture here is the elevation at that mass.   And I also went over when Mac renewed her vows early December.    Fun, but too bad they are WAY over on the other side of London.  A crummy 20 miles as crow flies turns into either: 120 mile round trip in car via M-25 (gas 1.39 a liter about 8.50 a US gallon) OR two train changes plus bus and longer to get there.   Works out same price either way, roughly.  I also had to move, but remain in Feltham and hope in the New Year to get a job locally as a) I like this end of London as it is close to everywhere I'd want to go.

But even some of the good days can get wrecked.  Like Dec. 8th - I was finally feeling good enough to get a few things done on the same day - a bank errand (a different one!) and then walked over to Mass -- where I found I had completely forgotten the parish had its 80th anniversary celebration.  Really wonderful Mass with different communities contributing, and a great reception afterwards.  Then went shopping, home, made dinner and found I had *lost* my wedding ring.  Well, temporarily anyway.  4 days later found it in a place I'd checked twice already.  But I was just sick with grief in the time it was missing.  Fr. Chris V. of St. Lawrence, Feltham has been most kind, as well as has his Anglican priest cousin, Fr. Paul W.   And the aforementioned David and Diana D., and I had lunch one afternoon with Q's parents in Fleet.

I also got up to the Richmond Deer Park 3 times this year.  Once for lunch at Pembroke Lodge - where David Niven was posted for a spell during WWII when he was in Phantom Regiment.  Richmond park sits on the top of a promentory in west London about 8 miles as the crow flies from where I live.  One of the few pleasures Q and I had together his last year was going there on the way home after his radiation treatments.  I was sorry the "Fenton" episode happened shortly after his death.  Oh, how he would have laughed.  We always managed to see either an English Springer Spaniel or a Highland Westie, and sometimes both on the same day.  We'd had DDDs of those same variety.  The deer are incredibly tame. You can drive through the park, but the speed limit is only 20 for good reason.  Like cops everywhere, the local constabulary *loves* nailing people going over the limit through the thing.  Good reason too - some of those deer will literally graze along the boarder of the road.

My parents-in-law just celebrated their 60th anniversary on the 22nd of this month, and I was able to arrange that they get congratulations from the Queen.  I was happy to do that, because I'm sure Q would have remembered to do that.  Seems she's the only efficient one with a half-way decent staff.  My father in law answered the door at 7:30 in the morning on the day of their anniversary.  The letter had to be specially signed for, and it had to be reported back to Her Maj. if it hadn't been delivered by 9 a.m. that day!

 I was able to get up to see them for Christmas and they have been very kind and supportive.  So I guess that has been the very best thing this year. This photo, as far as I know is one of the few if not THE only photo of Quentin taken with his parents in recent years.  I took it almost exactly 2 years ago -- literally days before we found out Q was seriously ill with terminal cancer.   I envy his parent's 60 years together.  Q and I didn't even get a 1st anniversary.  John will be 90 this next Lincoln's Birthday and Lorna is two months younger than her Maj.

Next year?  Please God, let it be better - I can't take too many more like this.
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