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Saturday, July 09, 2005

stuff upper lip

A very British afternoon

Awake fresh and eager at 0600 hrs, probably because I'm looking forward to an afternoon with a favorite British lady whom I've not seen for a year and need to catch up on the chatter - including viewing her daughter of 10 months.

Lying abed listening to NPR updates of the train bombing, it occurred to me that I would normally have lost no time calling off today's get-together rather than indulge in gruelling Brit-to-Brit clucking and tutting over the bombastic brouhaha.

But with Rebecca I feel completely safe for the very good reason that she hails from God's own county of YorkshireYorkshire.

It seems we Brits have a reputation for a certain rigidity of the superior lip. Well, among *ourselves*, it's those folks oop t'north who are the truly impassive types. Indeed, as far as the dour Yorkshire folk are concerned - and my dad was one - the rot begins south of Hadrian's Way: not only is the beer undrinkable, but the pooftah softies down t'south are no better than them excitable continental johnnies one meets starting at Calais.

As I say, my own dad hailed from a small town outside Halifax and I remember the all-day journeys from my maternal grandmother in Harrow to the matriarch in Yorkshire.

I'd love to fib and speak wistfully of those bracing visits, but they scared the hell out of me, and the fiercesome weather completed the job.

The family owned a shoe shop in Leeds and each visit to 'Gan Gan' included a trip into the big city for kitting up of footware.

Natch, a visit by young master was an occasion and it seemed as if the *whole* store lined up either side of the entrance to form an unsmiling gauntlet for me to walk down to where some senior manager waited to measure and fit me for the latest style of 'sensible' clodhoppers.

Of course, being not only a scion of THE family but also from "down south", I was the ultimate curio and would be plied with questions just to hear my simpering posh vowels and effeminate vocabulary.

It'll be a "sensible" visit with Rebecca: fond embrace but nothing soppy, a good strong cuppa and a plate of Mr Kipling's shortbread, then appropriate billing and cooing over la petite ("Eee, she's a bonny babe. Aye, you done well there, lass.") before returning to genial chat on more general matters.

And that, ta very much, will be my extremely satisfactory sunny Saturday afternoon.

Stop Press: Not only was it a glorious and fun day over on Seattle but the pleasure was completed by seeing the Leung family on the home-bound ferry, which allowed me to confirm with Julie my intention to join them at this Wednesday's waterfront concert.

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