About a year and a half ago, a good friend of mine and I started a political fight about a highly charged issue. But even before starting to scream and hurl insults at each other, we decided that the other was a complete asshole and not worth talking to. That's what you get when your friends are far away. The argument was silly and not worth risking a friendship, but I was not man enough to admit that to him, and neither was he.
A few months ago, we started talking again. It had really got too silly. Now he has come to work in the UK, and this weekend he came down to London. What a jolly good time we had. On Saturday, we went to Seaford, a small town by the Channel coast about 70 miles from London. Seaford is a family resort, quiet, relaxing and mighty impressive thanks to chalk cliffs that start just east of town. We hiked for hours putting our noses in the wind – and later our toes into the slowly approaching high tide. It was the first time that I had seen the tide move in.
The only downside to the trip was the drive. Due to the strong gravitational pull that's particular to big conurbations, it took more than two hours to get there. Next time I'll take the train.
At night, we walked around Shepherd's Bush a bit. My friend acted the local and introduced me to the Somali grocer and Moroccan pastry chef. I benefited from his background when he translated all the Arabic shop signs to me. Looks like there were no hidden "Infidels will have their throats slashed" messages. It's a nice neighborhood.
He also made me aware of a Lebanese bakery called Zeit & Zaatar. Zeit, he said, means oil. It is not surprising that the Spaniards call their oil aceite. Maybe they got the word from the Moors. But what about the Italians? Did anyone ever hear of oil turning into vinegar (aceito) or, scientifically, acetic acid? If you don't think I'm a geek for finding linguistics cool, your might find a dozen other reasons.
Sunday we did Notting Hill Carnival, Kensington Gardens and Kensington the neighborhood. Utter and unbelievable craziness, calm leisure and posh life, respectively. Too much for one post, as always since I've moved to London. I'm surprised I still find time to sleep.
If my friend stays long enough at his current job in Northern Ireland, I might go up there one weekend, now that I've learned that it's better to look forward in glee than back in anger.