Archive for March, 2020

A Valentine Weekend

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

Not many husbands fly their wives 4000 miles to have a romantic Valentine dinner overlooking the picturesque Torquay Bay in Devon. Well, I assured it was picturesque because it was difficult  to see in the dark. One of the restaurant’s specialties was venison which we both love. We live in Atlanta, Georgia, as regular readers will know, where deer hunting is a very popular sport. But quite bizarrely, venison is rarely served in restaurants in Atlanta and you can’t buy it in the stores. There are meat processing plants which butcher the meat for hunters, but don’t sell the product to the public.

The real reason for our impromptu visit to the UK was to attend my sister-in-law’s funeral who passed away quite suddenly. It is quite weird how a sad event can create other opportunities. I hadn’t seen one of my nieces in approximately 17 years. Neither had I met my brother’s 4 grandchildren. That’s not quite true. I met the eldest who is now 18 years old when she was toddling around in a nappy (diaper if you prefer.)

We awoke from our slumber on Saturday morning to be confronted with Storm Dennis which was pounding the Devon coastline. Winds were whipping up a storm approaching 85 mph accompanied by torrential rain resulting in serious floods. A red amber alert relating to extensive flooding was  posted for South Wales where we were heading the next day for the funeral. The Severn Bridge which is the main route from England to Wales was threatening to close if the wind velocity didn’t subside.

Fortunately Storm Dennis decided to take a breather and we tentatively  began our journey  towards the Land of Our Fathers. The rainfall was incessant, but the wind had subsided. I could deal with heavy rain having previously lived in South Wales for forty plus years.

My son also attended the funeral, and we served as pall bearers, walking side by side of the coffin into the crematorium to the dulcet tones of Abba singing “Dancing Queen.” Neither of us knew whether we should raise our hands and perform a rhythmic wave as Abba fans tend to do, but fortunately discretion was the order of the day.

We then transferred to my brother’s church for a celebration of my sister-in-law’s life. Various people came up   to share their stories of how, where and when they had met my sister-in-law and recalling the impact she had  on their lives. They were interspersed with hymns and arias, and eulogies from my brother and his two daughters. The service ended with a video of Dolly Parton displayed on a giant screen singing a gospel, her ample bosom heaving as she attempted to hit those high notes. I learnt something new again. I had known my late sister-in-law for over 55 years and didn’t know she was a fan of ABBA or Dolly Parton.

We flew home the following Thursday, but the drama was not yet done. We fly standby owing to my wife’s former status as an airline employee. The plane leaving Heathrow for Atlanta was barely full which meant we were assured seats in first class. Not so fast my friend. We were informed that we would be confined to punter’s class (economy) because there were so few passengers who had to be dispersed for weight and balance purposes. Ten hours later we were touching down at Hartsfield Airport and relieved to be home.

Little did we know that the corona virus was hot on our heels. How many rolls of toilet paper do we have love?????