TGIF: to my good English friends
This is my cheery thanks for 237 WordPress views from the U.K. Yet, all readers are welcomed to join in the jape — even your homework-eating doggie or moggie is invited.
A few months ago I wrote a post to celebrate non sequiturs. So it certainly follows…
The anecdote begins in a basement apartment, one with a bright southern exposure in the Manhattan Kansas of 1970. The landlady is an elderly widow under the name of McLeod. She pronounced this appellation “Mick Lee Odd” to the bloody-helliest consternation of my college roommate from Sheffield.
“She doesn’t even know how to pronounce her bloody name. Jesus F-ing Christ!”
Keith’s very words, excepting the letters k, u and c.
He bore a striking resemblance to Robert Carlyle’s character Gaz in The Full Monty. The marvelous synchronicity of life and art finds me in Sheffield, whether led by Robert Carlyle or by Keith.
We fed a stray moggie who frequented the window wells. Mrs. McLeod disapproved of visiting privileges for this fellow mammal of the feline kind. Of course she ran up the basement steps into the McLeod kitchen to begin her first and last apartment visit. Without hesitation.
A large collection of small glass animalia enjoyed the same southern exposure. Rays of sun pointed to all dust that might alight, only to fall victim daily to Mrs. M’s grey cloth.
She asked us to deduct a dollar from the $60 rent, were we to shovel the snow. No deduction did we make, so she baked us a cake and each snow day left it on the kitchen table next to the tub and in front of the shower’s wooden pallet.
Keith P. introduced me to real football. His mother sent him the pink sports pages by post each week. ’twas his sacred tradition to purchase a bag of chips and to consume all contents of the bag while reading the full contents of the weekly surprise. I learned of George Best in his better days. Mancunians, Liverpudlians. One week I selected Swansea as my team favorite UK team.
“Bloody hell, they’ll be relegated.”
Comes another random memory. A trip by ’63 Käfer from Manhattan (KS) to hometown Cincinnati. Christmas break. My father spent quite a few months in North Africa in 1943, but suffered the youthful certainty we thought real.
“Britain would have won the war without American help.”
Keith’s words paraphrased.
I sold encyclopedias for a couple months in Cincinnati the following summer. You could lie your ass off in those days. It was the most dishonest job I have ever held. Unfortunately I was good at it. One shred of dignity for my door-to-door robbery —it paid rent to the wonderful Mrs. McLeod. Keith spent that same summer in inner-city Detroit with a radical geographer: William Bunge, Theoretical Geography 1970. A very different era.
Every evening we joined with Mrs. M. for the day’s first encounter with the larger world without. Our sole 30 minutes of TV viewing time.
Now the world without intercedes to display the more dismal side that is in the human shadow, I also remember the following:
Always Walter Cronkite and always the loud desperation on grainy black and white film, the black and white blood of teen-age death captured by a war correspondent’s film crew. Choppers measuring cacophony of war uncensored.
Keith was not draftable and September 17 gifted me a random 255 by dint of the document below. September 14 was the first number drawn in the draft lottery of 1969.