I’m flying to New York (alone) next week for a 10 day visit to check on my father in Pennsylvania and also check on our house and “lock it down” for a Catskills winter – where temperatures can easily fall to -10C (14F) for days on end. Hopefully, no “local guests” have eaten it completely since I was there in June! You may remember what was awaiting me the last time…
This dawned on me as well as I explained that plan yesterday while I was answering a message from a cousin in Connecticut. Now married with two young sons, she and I grew up living around the corner from each other on Long Island – where none of our families now live any longer. With my mother’s one year anniversary upon us, she’d written me asking how my dad is doing these days.
We went to a family funeral on Thursday in north London.
A couple of weeks ago, my wife’s uncle-in-law died at home in his sleep at 85. While there is naturally sadness, at the catering hall gathering that followed the church service and cemetery his son reminded me (perhaps he was also telling himself this as a way to deal with the loss) that his dad had been 85 and he had had (as they sometimes say in this country) “a good innings.” And his mother was coping okay so far at least.
I also bumped into a guy there I had not seen since he was at my wedding in 1999. His late father had been German, his mother (a close friend of the widow) is Irish/English, he himself raised in Switzerland and he lives there now with his wife, who’s Canadian. In case you are keeping track. (His wife did not come to England for the funeral.)
As you may have heard, a man with a knife slashing at people killed sixty-four-year-old American Darlene Horton and injured half a dozen others in London’s Russell Square on Wednesday evening. If learned, as of this writing his motive has not yet been made public. (“Mental health” issues have been cited by police.) As to a description of him circulating in British media, including on the BBC, ITV news’s Charlene White took issue with it on Twitter:
"Norwegian national of Somali descent"
Which technically makes me a "British national of Jamaican descent". Not just…you know…British.
Via Wikipedia, one uncovers that Ms. White was born in London. That same source also states her parents were “Black Carribean.” Given her tweeted reference to Jamaica, I will assume for discussion’s sake that means they were born there and moved here to the United Kingdom.
Ancestry.com is after me again. This below is from an email I received this morning:
A few years ago through Ancestry, I found one of the ship manifests that included my maternal great-grandmother as a young adult sailing to America. She had traveled with about a dozen other people of varying ages, all from the same village in Sicily. My great-grandfather was in America already, awaiting her arrival.
She was born near Syracuse (as was he). She departed Messina, stopped in Naples, stopped next in Marseille, and from there journeyed to New York’s Ellis Island. It was typical for the time and their nationality.
This is quite a serious post. There is no levity in it. Based on what I’ve seen – we’ve all seen – in the last week and a half, I simply want to say this.
United Kingdom voters, as you probably know, voted on the 23rd of June by 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the European Union.
That EU referendum, we all also know, has bitterly divided politics here in Britain.
It’s decidedly one thing flinging insults at total strangers you disagree with – “insane,” “idiots,” “racists,” “Hitler,” “old white trash” – on social media. But this? We’ve discovered friends of ours – she, a non-British EU national and staunch “Remainer,” married to him, a British national and vocal Brexit “Leave” supporter – are practically on the verge of divorce over the referendum’s outcome.
We don’t see this sort of thing happen in our lives too often. These next few weeks? Remember them:
For American readers, “luvvies” is British derogatory slang for….
a person who is involved in the acting profession or the theatre, esp one with a tendency to affectation
As you may know, on June 23 British voters will be asked to answer this referendum question, Yes or No: Should the United Kingdom remain a part of the European Union?
The arguments for remaining vs. leaving are now all over the airwaves, filling newspapers and the net. British voters are being deluged with opinions. As with those entertainers Sky presenter Kay Burley tweets about, it seems most every figure is voicing a view.
Taking no public position either way myself (I’m not British, so I don’t feel it’s appropriate), I will say I’ve noticed two major tendencies that broadly underpin both sides’ arguments:
You may remember “Melvin.” He is the ex-husband of a friend of ours. Back in August, he moved to Bulgaria.
For some years before, he had been involved with a woman from Odessa, Ukraine whom he’d, well….met on the internet. We don’t know really what went on there, but he’d been to visit her numerous times. A year or two ago matters were apparently taken up a notch: a house was bought there (uh, he’d bought it for her in HER name only: I kid you not), lots of money was also sent her way, and he was planning on moving there to be nearer her….
Of my 8 great-grandparents, 5 were Italians, including several Sicilians. My wife likes to joke when we’ve been in Italy that Italians don’t seem to know what to make of me. “You look like you belong,” she says, “and they talk to you like you do.”
I’ve run into something similar here in Tenerife. Some Spaniards seem to think I fit in, too. Until I open my mouth, at least.😉
There is also something of an Italian community here. The other night, we wandered into an Italian ice cream and sweets shop. The twenties-something Italian guy behind the counter looked at me initially and wasn’t sure which language to try on me first; he opened with a mishmash of Spanish and Italian until I made it plain I was neither Spanish or Italian.
His English was not great. But the ice creams were excellent. We also noticed the place sold….
We’ve all seen the Oscars’ debate about “diversity” in film. That led me over the last few days to thinking about books, including my own. Although not nearly as media-prominent, literature is seeing much the same discussion as film – especially children’s books:
It is argued not unreasonably that children seeing characters “like themselves” is good for them. Beyond that:
….Dhonielle Clayton, vice president of We Need Diverse Books, stressed that good storytelling on a range of topics benefits all children and young adults, not just ones who belong to the communities they portray. “By having kids read cross-culturally, it really helps them have a common language of accepting and understanding,” Clayton said.
Writing for children is not my genre, of course. So I’ll leave children’s literature to children’s authors. Yet the matter is relevant in its own way for us in “grown up” literature, too.