Back In Denim

“Wearing a waistcoat? In this weather? You’re brave.”

“What do you mean? This weather is great!”

So that’s the easy way to wear a waistcoat on a hot British Summer’s day. You spend three months experiencing a Carolina Summer, and then it seems like a cool breeze.

I’m on my way back to Durham right now, ten thousand metres up via an unplanned stop in Dublin for a medical emergency, which will make the flight last around ten hours. Going to be a long long trip back home. Even though I just left home. I’ve decided that there’s no need to reconcile where my home is; I can just have two.

You can never go home again, they say. And maybe it’s only been a year, but though my bedroom seemed very small to begin with, by the time I woke up on Friday afternoon trying to sleep off my jetlag, it was if nothing had changed; the muscle memory of living there for so long kicked in, even if the room has now been turned into Bonnie’s overflow closet. I made a cup of tea late on Friday night and didn’t even think about where things where.

Though I did try and get into the wrong side of the car at first.

I stepped off the AA173 767-300 having read B.S. Johnson’s Travelling People to the sounds of The Day That Thatcher Dies and Girl VII. It’s as if the iPhone knew. Heathrow didn’t quite seem to be the apocalyptic hellscape that the UK media have been painting it for the past few weeks; it didn’t take me long to clear Immigration and begin the short journey home.

We lost Woolworths in Bicester like everybody else, but since I’ve been away, we’ve gained a Wilkinson. Aside from it being in a different building, it’s almost as if Woolworths never went away. Complete with knockoffs of the Pantone mugs (I did try to get some, but unfortunately they were sold out when I went back. Boo). Oh, and Union Jacks everywhere.

I wasn’t prepared for that; I missed the Jubilee, of course, but the Olympics seems to have given licence for the nationalist madness to continue. When I had to go and buy a block of butter, and I was confronted with wall of salted and unsalted pats of Union Jack butter, I think I can say it has officially gone too far.

Another thing I wasn’t prepared for: I’m the family member that moved to America. Which seems to merit some points with extended family back home, along with the job I was doing last year. I wish I had more fun stories to tell, really.

Gavin and Clare’s wedding was the reason I came over for the weekend, and it was definitely worth the trip. I got to see most of my school friends, plus I got to see Gavin and Clare very happy. Hurrah! A pity I couldn’t get down to London or into Oxford (it occurred to me on Sunday afternoon that I could have probably got into London on the new high-speed train, and thus have been able to celebrate Mandar’s birthday at the Tate Modern, but on the other hand, it was a weekend to be with my family. so I think staying at home was the better decision).

And blackcurrants. So many blackcurrants. My dad planted a set of blackcurrant bushes next to the raspberries and redcurrants two years ago. Last year, we had a few, but this year, oh my. If I had brought some pectin over, the kitchen would be knee-deep in pâte de fruit right now. As I didn’t, I tried something else - a blackcurrant ganache without cream. Nothing except the puréed berries and chocolate (oh, okay, a little bit of butter to provide enough fat content to create a smooth ganache, but that’s all). It was successful enough that I should probably attempt similar ganaches with local Carolinian fruit when I get back to Durham.

But then, after the roast dinner, watching Neighbours, lamenting the slow waste of technology that is the replacement for Ceefax (seriously, if you can’t make your fancy new information service as fast or as useful as something invented in the early 1970s, you might as well give up), wandering around the American Estate and Greenwood Homes, seeing the new cinema construction in the centre of the town, wincing at Casualty, and eating plenty of chocolate digestive biscuits, it was almost time to go. Not before seeing my grandfather, though.

So I’m back on a plane. Back to North Carolina. Back to Durham. To my other home.

Didn’t see any Olympic Lanes.

My suitcase is loaded with illicit contraband, including HP Sauce and Mini Eggs.

I may need another bookcase soon.

I have just finished re-reading That Damned Utd. The perfect way to leave Britain.

dirty, dirty, Leeds