[Yesterday proved eventful, what with Gene on the radio in NY, Maggie requiring an emergency trip to the vet -- on medication, but still hanging in there -- then a belated birthday dinner for Pat at Houston landmark, Spanish Village.]
Sunday before Canterbury proved to be an exceedingly damp day. I ran around town picking up things I had promised to people and somehow not got around to buying, so I went everywhere from Gosh to the Tate Britain and got thoroughly soaked doing it (that will become important later). But I got my errrands done, read The Lieutenant of Inishmore and dried off enough to help lead a bunch of students to dinner at the Porterhouse in Covent Garden. Great beers! Terrific service -- even the latecomers (who had run off to places like Glastonbury (thanks for the water David!), Stonehenge and (my fave) Avebury) got their dinnera. The food was excellent and spirits were high. And yes, dared by the students I did do a tequila shot, which they made sure to immortalize in photos. We ended the evening late despite our early departure in the morning, singing and reciting poetry like a bunch of English professors or something.
Our Canterbury trip had a delayed start, as our drivers needed to take a mandated break before driving us. Oh well. We had a few students delivering presentations to entertain us and of course, the beautiful countryside to delight the eyes. We got to a blustery Canterbury and dropped our bags at the very American Holiday Inn Express and headed out to the city. People fanned out for lunch, and the first thing I ran across after lunch was the clock tower once part of the church where Marlowe was baptized. Ah! living history -- I can touch the very bricks that the greatest Elizabethan playwright touched, too. Then we met folks at the cathedral -- one of the main aims of our trip. What a cold wind was blowing! I was really feeling its chill for some reason (should have been dawning on me at that point, but it wasn't). Student gave presentations both inside and outside the cathedral. Many were quite in awe of the structure which offers an imposing figure over the city. We saw the site of Becket's martyrdom and, most important to me, the fifteenth century wall painting of the life of St. Eustace which plays a crucial role in Riddley Walker. But after walking aroudn the cathedral a while, I was starting to feel dizzy and sat down for a while. Sandi and I went to Debenham's cafe for a pot of tea and pain au chocolate, which made me feel a bit better. If I could just get warm...but by dinner time, I was feeling less than wonderful. Which was a pity -- we had our last full group dinner and the students produced a mock proclamation for Jim as, among other things. "The Earl of the Headcount" thanking him for organizing such a wonderful trip. Then Sandi gave a nice speecha bout how much she was going to miss me and the students joined in and a number stood and applauded. I think it was just a conspiracy to make me cry.
Fortunately by that point I was so dazed with fever it all seemed unreal. I rode back to the hotel in a taxi with a few other students who were caling ti an early night and skipping the "ghost tour" (which as it turned out, was a wise decision -- no Benny Hill for me!). I took a hot shower (alas, no bath in the American hotel) and went to bed, finally realizing I ached all over because I was shivering so much. My roommies came in later and were somewhat alarmed at my shivering. Thankfully, they got blankets from housekeeping and piled them on me. About 4am my fever broke and by the next morning, I was almost myself again.
But that will take another post to finish --