Wednesday, November 02, 2005

England, where my heart lies

I had forgotten until I got off the plane how much I love England. Is there a word for this kind of love of a place? It's the same feeling I have for Denmark - last night when I saw a Danish artichoke lamp in a window I felt the same kind of sudden lift you get when you're in love and you see some reminder of whoever it is. Can you call it nationalism when it's not your own nation?

It feels like coming home in a way that I can't attribute to having been here before. Part of it is the folk tradition, the feeling of finally whistling tunes in their native habitat. Another part has to be the literature - in Paris one can hardly help imagining the characters of Victor Hugo and Gaston Leroux and so on as one passes their various locations, but in London it's so much stronger because a disproportionate amount of my reading material has come from this little patch of earth. When I walk down the streets I feel they're peopled with everyone from John Donne to Eleanor Dashwood to Bertie Wooster to Bridget Jones. Since I was little I've been conditioned by C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl respectively to believe that Turkish delight and steak and kidney pie were the two best foods in the world.

The folk pilgrimage is proceeding nicely. Last night I went to a Morris practice and then a folk club (people sitting around drinking and singing.) The guy teaching Morris addressed me as "good lass," and the very cute bespectacled Polish bartender tried to give me more shandies for free after my first half pint but failed and had to ply me with lemonade instead.

Also contributing to my happiness is the fact that I'm undivided for once. There's nothing else I need to be doing, nowhere else I would rather be. After so long of feeling pulled towards Boston or Richmond or Bryn Mawr or wherever I wasn't, I feel completely present here.

3 comments:

sandy said...

wish i was there....it's true my imagination is peopled with British people more than any other race (except maybe Russian). I've often wondered why it is that most of my favorite children's writers were British. (also Scandinavian---which probably explains my fascination for that part of the world as well.) It must be as Waugh puts it in Brideshead---no where else is there such a quantity of that peculiarly British quality--charm. He says it destroys everything it touches...love, truth beauty...which may be a bit pessimistic on his side.

sandy said...

sorry---take out that true in the first sentance--typo.

sandy said...

and sentence is spelled wrong. wow. i'm really losing brain cells.