Waking up in a strange new place. Am I really here? Yes. What was the voice that swept my curtain aside saying? Something about dinner?
I opened my eyes. Time was strange. Should it still be light outside?
Making my way into the bathroom. Shower. Dress. Brush my teeth, yes.
A fellow with a large curly bushel of hair next to me was also brushing his teeth.
“‘ello mate. Name’s J.J.”
J.J. explained to me in his thick Cockney accent (complete with brush in mouth) that he’d been in jail for 37 hours. 37 hours!!! He says they were only supposed to hold him for 24. What was he doing? Protesting. What had they brought him in for? Impersonating a police officer in an authentic outfit! Every time we met J.J. he had yet another tale of some trick, hoax, or prank he had devised. One breakfast he described how he had convinced the guard at the closed theatre around the corner that he and his friends were from America, and in town to do a tour of old theatres in the area. The guard (who had probably worked there for years and was a treasure trove of history) took them around on a personally guided tour and served them tea. According to J.J. Thus he became the Artful Dodger in my head, and that’s how we referred to him from then on. And to think, I’d thought I might be disappointed that there were no Dickensian characteristics left in modern London…
So - a little peek into the Palmer Lodge:
The eating area looking in the other direction. That night, Carson and I went and found some take-out Chinese food - it seemed the only place that was open. I had a nice curry. We sat several times at the tiny 2 top to the left. Through the white spiked bars on the interior windows was the actual Bar, sunk down to the lower level. Just in between this picture and the last were the sets of stairs that took you back down to the breakfast kitchen and bar. I spent some time chatting with various people. Sent some messages on the ‘net that all was well, and then tried to get some sleep again - wanted to go out Friday, since we weren’t supposed to meet Edward and Phil until Saturday.
All was bliss for about 4 hours in my little bunk bed, soft duvet curled up around me. And then…and then someone came in to sleep, and I do not think it was human. I think it was a bear. This creature’s snoring was SO LOUD that it woke everyone up in the room - all 10 other people. Though we had not met or seen each other, our voices bonded in the dark, as we discussed how to remedy this problem. It’s not every day you have to tell a bear to shut up.
“I think sleep is a good idea.”, stated an English guy’s voice philosophically.
Moved by this wisdom that sleep was more than a biological necessity but was, in fact, a Platonic ideal - I volunteered to rouse the Bear. It took several knocks, but eventually a confused voice replied.
Explanations were made - various invisible voices offered advice to the Bear as to how to turn on it’s side. Much creaking and groaning ensued, and the Richter scale dropped to an acceptable level. Satisfied that I had told a bear what it must go do with itself with impunity, I fell into a decent sleep again.
To be continued…