Tuesday, August 29, 2006


- With acknowledgements to Robert Browning.

Yesterday afternoon I cried myself silly, watching 84 Charing Cross Road on Sky. That film always has this effect on me, so I should have known better. But I love it because it is a tale of a book-loving woman and now it has taken on a new dimension for me, in its portrayal of Britain. Of course that Britain has long gone, but I am just old enough to remember it and some of the scenes of churches, churchyards and little houses [which do still exist] made me homesick for an hour or two. So here are the things I miss about Britain, the thoughts that come to you during a wave of nostalgia being strange and eclectic: [I've mentioned some of them before, so apologies if you have been following the blog from the beginning.]
1. Cooked breakfasts.
2. The freshness of a British morning.
3. Now that we are nearing it, autumn or "fall". I think the American term is so evocative. Here there is no real change of colour or falling of leaves.
4. Browsy bookshops, department stores and being able to buy underwear without discussing it.
5. Musical doorbells. [Mine played the Marseillaise.]
6. Events that start on time!
7. Efficient post offices.
8. An efficient local bus service on which I can travel with my dog.
9. Heel bars: there are so few shoe repairers here that I am starting to wonder whether Italians just throw their shoes out as soon as they show signs of wear and tear or begin to look a little "last year-ish". Of course, their shoes don't have to withstand the weather abuse that British ones do.
10. Seeing people from many lands and cultures, hearing their languages and buying their food.
11. British sarcasm, satire and humour in general.
12. Being able to hail a cab when I need one.
13. The air of Wales and the accents of Wales.
14. Shopping in the afternoon.
15. Women friends who will come out to lunch.
Then I read about absurdities such as the fact that spy devices are being fitted to wheelie-bins in Britain - the country is on high terror alert and these things are being used on wheelie-bins?!! - and I am glad to have found my little Sicilian corner of the world.
Browning, by the way, is not, I have found, beloved of Italians, whereas Elizabeth Barrett Browning is. [To a non -native English speaker, she is by far the easier poet of the two and she espoused the Italian cause of independence from Austria.] Once, in Florence, I was searching for the Brownings' house and all my enquiries for "la casa di Browning" drew a blank. But when I changed tack and asked for "la casa della signora Browning" about twenty people immediately surrounded me, all exclaiming, "Ah, Elisabetta! " and vying to give directions.


beethoven writes said...

Usually when I come back from a holiday in Spain, I look forward to coming back to my flat and enjoy being in London. However, usually after 24 hours, I want to go straight back!

Maria said...

What a lovely post... it's so full of life. This one and the one you posted afterwards. I fell like I am there with you tasting the good, experiecing the poor postal service, (lol) I don't know what I would do about the underware shopping... I would die of embarassment! You make me feel that I could make moving to someplace else a reality. Thank You. Love, M


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