Funny how England seems so insurmountably far away when I am in California. It seems downright close when I’m in Gloucestershire. And with Jane heading home today, having just left for the airport…well, the high wall that separates my two worlds seems higher than ever. Jane will spend the entire day going down that physically wrenching rabbit hole called intercontinental travel. And in a week I will do the same. This makes me all the more aware of where I am.   I am in a place built Read more [...]


‘Just go a bit off the high street and the business stops,’ my cousin Alastair is explaining. He is speaking of Moreton-in-Marsh, the Cotswold town that is closest to his village, Todenham. We are here for market day. And I am reminded of Brecht’s famous stage direction from the opening of ‘Threepenny Opera:’ Market day in Soho. Thieves theaving. Whores whoring. I needn't worry. Nothing quite so colorful happening in the town square. But a lot is happening, all the same. The vans of Read more [...]

Alles is Uber

On route to the British Museum this morning, our London cab driver told us, as it is the way, a lot. I innocently asked about Uber. It will be the end of us, he said. Looking around, there was little to support this claim. After all, hadn’t there been at least 10 taxis queuing up in front of our hotel this very morning? And is the West End jampacked, as usual, with black taxicabs? Still, judging by the rate of change in the British capital, I was easily persuaded that he was right. This made Read more [...]

Still Mary

“There is someone behind you,” Jane says in the crush of the Deck 7 buffet. Wives – and I have had three –have a way of saying such things. It frequently rubs me the wrong psychological way, this sort of observation. I can’t remember what I was doing at the time in the buffet. Most likely, stopped to grab a piece of bread or something. It doesn’t matter. Fact is, being in a totally altered setting highlights of my situation. I stop frequently, much like the sign on the mailman’s van. Read more [...]

High Seas, High Teas

What’s quite surprising is the way the Queen Mary 2 vibrates, eight stories above the water and 10 stories above the engine room. For a technical nincompoop like myself, what’s even more surprising is the reason. Stabilizers. The little underwater winglets that work like airplane stabilizers actually make the ship vibrate. Perhaps a more technical person might say that they convert the ship’s rocking into vibration. Perhaps they wouldn't. Perhaps they would say that Poseidon’s trident had Read more [...]

Sea Legs

If you have any doubts, just stop showering for a moment and watch the plastic curtain sway. It knows. The shower curtain can’t be fooled. It even knows the difference between port and starboard, one of those generally obscure distinctions. Nope, no question, you are all at sea. I confess to limited interest in matters nautical. The Queen Mary 2 is big enough to convince you that you’re not afloat. Stabilizers control the lateral motion, much like an aircraft. As for the longitudinal, by the Read more [...]