far too much writing, far too many photos

Wednesday morning: my flight touched down in Manchester around ten, a short time later I staggered out of baggage reclaim to find an old friend waiting, and the sight of his friendly face was a balm to my sleep-deprived spirit. He relieved me of one of my bags, gently herded my bleary self out of the terminal into morning sunlight. (Sunlight! In Manchester! I sat next to a tired pilot on the flight up from London, him returning home after working all night. We looked out the window at English countryside awash in sunshine, he said he’d moved to Manchester from Glasgow for his current job and described Manchester as a place where if it wasn’t already raining, it was getting ready to rain.)

Dermot and I filed into a nearly-empty elevator. One or two floors later, a swarm of people joined us, all free space disappearing. When my guardian angel and I got off at the top floor, the mob remained inside, all of them having elected to crowd into an upward-bound lift instead of wait for a descending one.

Dermot’s ride: a Porsche (Dermot being something of a car nut, getting immense pleasure out of being able afford a sporty, eye-catching number like that), parked out in the sunlight, its trunk just large enough to fit my stuff into. We mounted up (or mounted down, the vehicle being a ground-hugger — first time I’d sat in a Porsche in, er, maybe forever), Dermot fired it up, and we were off, me paying what attention I could muster to the driving-on-the-other-side-
of-the-road stuff ’cause I intended to do some of it this trip.

He chose a route that extended through sparsely populated country. Horse farms, expensive houses behind tall hedges, expanses of green grass stretching off into the distance. And sunshine pouring down on it all. Lovely.

Something that made it lovelier (warning: far too much unsavory information coming): at some point during the early hours on the flight over from the States, for some unknown reason — airline food? air pressure? — my bod began producing noxious gases. Might not have been a problem given the plane’s high ambient noise level and near gale-force air circulation, except that for some reason my body refused to vent — the poisonous vapors remained trapped in my nether regions, growing quickly uncomfortable, then a bit painful. Stayed that way through landing at Heathrow, through the delightful early morning forced march through miles of airport hallways, through the forced bus ride between terminals, through the forced herding through customs checkpoints, and all the way through the flight between London and Manchester. Arrival in Sunny Manchester and the presence of a friend apparently induced systemwide relaxation, the problem slowly relieved itself with surprising stealth and a gratifying absence of damaging odors, causing neither embarrassment nor damage to car/passengers.

This is my first time in Dermot’s new home, ‘new’ meaning purchased after my last stopover in the U.K. two years ago — it turns out to be a lovely little semi-detached house, a comfortable space to live in with a fair number of windows, which means plenty of light and a sense of airiness. Which some might consider a mixed blessing, given the house’s location: fronting a small road which in turn fronts a small fringe of trees, which in turn fronts a fairly major highway, six lanes in all if one counts the exit/entrance ramps that send vehicles whizzing past. (On the other hand, I remind myself, beyond the dual carriageway, the earth extends off in rolling expanses, a gentle valley rising gradually toward low hills — a fine view.)

Himself in his lair, at leisure.

The house sits at the bottom of a sizeable hill, the slope of the land pronounced enough to threaten cardiac misfunction for anyone with the bad judgment to attempt walking up the bugger. A nice home in a weird site, though not unbearably weird — the neighborhood has its middle-class charm. Including a house around the corner belonging to a motorcycle gang, The Outlaws U.K. — a den of iniquity that apparently provokes the occasional police raid, but not at all a hovel. A presentable building the owners clearly take pride in, maintaining it to a level that fits in with the neighborhood.

[this entry in progress]

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Late afternoon, rain clouds breaking up — Newcastle-under-Lyme, England:

EspaƱa, te echo de menos.

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