Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Pope visits London.

Back to London to give an after dinner talk to the partners of some huge US law firm. Walked to the venue along a ceremonial route lined with flags for the Popes state visit to Britain. What a serious group of people the lawyers turned out to be. Couldn't help but notice that all the women wore identical black dresses with a single row of pearls. Sadly, my idea of what constitutes a Bar Association is very different from theirs. A quiet chat with the French maitre'd before dinner ensured that I avoided the house Merlot and instead had my glass replenished with a rather attractive Chambolle-Musigny .

'The font' and Wilf came to collect me at Toulouse airport last night. The French air traffic controllers were 'going slow' so the flight was delayed by a couple of hours. Rather than hang around in the terminal they drove off to a large, modern fish restaurant five minutes away . Despite being full to the gunnals with Friday night diners the staff were a model of efficiency and courtesy. A well lit table in a quiet corner was laid, Wilf was escorted in and a bowl of water brought for him. In Britain Wilf would have had to stay in the back of the car and 'the font' would have had to dine alone at a table by the kitchen. 'A dog in a restaurant !' What different worlds. Driving home 'the font' told me the only noise Wilf made, as he peeked out from under the table cloth, was a mild, almost inaudible whimper of pleasure as a plate of calamari wafted past his nose.

On the plane the man in the seat by the window bobbed up and down like a cork on the ocean. Having stowed his bags he then had to stand up and rearrange them in the overhead baggage locker. No sooner had he sat down again than he immediately stood up to retrieve some papers. As soon as we were in the cruise and the seatbelt sign was off , up he got again. This time a computer was produced. Out of the corner of my eye saw him stroke the machine with what can best be descibed as unnatural enthusiasm. Youy know a flight is going to be bad when the person in the next seat starts a conversation about his new computer with the lines - "Take a look at this. Ask me any questions you want".

In English English the phrase 'How terribly interesting' can be translated as 'Please do not speak to me again. I would rather die than continue this conversation'. In American English the phrase 'How terribly interesting' comes across as 'How terribly interesting. Please feel free to bore me with technical inanities for as long as you care to'. One language - two cultures.


  1. I think that this American would understand what "how terribly interesting" means! But, then again, I'd never think to even start to bore a stranger like that. Maybe a friend... but not a stranger on an airplane.

    Oh how I wish that our country had such liberal dog rules. But, I have to admit, the thought of R in a fancy restaurant makes me giggle.

  2. The hu-dad always carries noise canceling headphones and puts them in his ears on planes. He does not necessarily connect to anything and can normally hear everything in the plane, but it is effective as a signal to not engage. And, when someone truly interesting does want to talk, they can be easily removed.

  3. We just turned on Sky news for a bit to see some of the Pope's Mass this morning in London - Murray's Mom was trying to explain to the kids here the excitment when Pope John Paul II visited Ireland but that was 1979 and the kids didn't seem that interested this morning in listening to all memories.

    Have to say, we love visiting France - and the great welcome Clive gets everywhere - not because he is working - just because he is a dog! In Cannes a few months ago - Clive got such wonderful service - it made our trip. He's coming to Paris with us in March - Murray wants to show him the Eiffel Tower! Here, in Ireland, although he is fully entitled to access everywhere as a service dog, the guys in the Indian didn't think he should be allowed in last night! He did get in, of course, we're nothing if not persistent!

  4. *snicker* I am pretty sure I'd get what "how terribly interesting" means, but I'm not obtuse like some people. Sorry you got stuck with the blockhead!

    Oh, how I wish the US rules about dogs in restaurants was the same as France! Although, thinking about it, while Bunny would be a perfect lady in a restaurant, Morgan might be a bit more of an experience than most diners would care for!

  5. black dresses with a single row of pearls = r i g i d


  6. I loved this post from the women at the meeting looking like clones to the guy in love with his computer on the plane. What a ride !!

  7. I love it when someone on the plane is trying to read what you're reading or watch the movie you're watching. I always want to say just ask and we can watch it together!

  8. What a fun post. You have such a great sense of humor (for a human, that is).
    I sure wish I could go into a restaurant! Sadly that will never happen in this country.

    Emma Rose

  9. Gee, I was just packing my black dress and pearls for the gala we'll be attending this Thursday evening!!!

    xx Joan

  10. I've sat by some people on an airplane like that guy. The worst though, was a guy who acted like every little thing was a complete inconvenience to him - from my having to get up to use the restroom, to having our meal served (that really unnerved him because he had to put his magazine down for a moment or two), to when we finally landed and he had to wait for others to move out of the way before he could get out into the aisle to leave.

  11. Wilf has quite the life, i can only imagine my goldens in a restaurant!
    you never know who you will get stuck next to in an airplane...the hazards of travel...