Have you been wondering about my walk with our next door neighbor David and his friend? I found myself strangely excited and a bit nervous about it. Silly me.
David picked me up by knocking on our door promptly at 10:15. He was carrying a shopping bag and I had a small bunch of flowers for our hostess. You see, David had told me that we’d walk for about an hour and then we would share a glass of wine “chez elle”. So I had to look that up because I’m just not as cosmopolitan as I might have led you to believe. 😉
And off we went. We had plenty to talk about on our way to Judy’s house. We chatted about the weather (horribly hot) and the countryside of Canterbury, David’s experience housing Chinese students over the years, hoping to house Ukrainian refugees, his tutoring of two Syrian students and…other chatty topics.
When we arrived at his friend’s house, he told me that he met her and her husband when he and his French wife split up (she went back to France) and sold the house to Judy and her husband. They’ve remained friends since 1976. Judy’s house is in the Edwardian style – red brick, two stories with a bay window on the right and a rectangular corner bay on the left. I didn’t take any photos because that seemed rude…I’ll have to sneak by another day! We dropped off our packages and off we went!
We headed out through the neighborhood streets, but I learned that there are little pathways everywhere. They cut through neighborhoods and sneak around the throughways. Today, as we came to a neighborhood on a path, we found ourselves at a door to a hospital wing. There was nowhere to go but through the door! I said that I never would have followed the trail here, and they told me that the paths are VERY important in the UK and they have the right of way even when there is a hospital expansion! We just opened the door, entered, continued through, opening two more doors until we found ourselves on the other side! I asked how this worked during COVID and they said that a person sat inside the two exterior doors and squirted your hands, handed you a mask and sent you through! They are serious about their walking paths!!!
Turns out Judy is a retired “primary” teacher so we had that in common. I learned about her adult daughter and grandson moving back to England from Italy. They’d been there for more that 20 years and are in the process of selling their home. I learned more about David’s family and we talked about travel, health care, etc. You know…the usual stuff. And yes, they did carefully ask about the politics in America. They are horrified by it…but wait till you read below. We agreed that we all have our challenges, that’s for sure!
We also talked about Boris…what a “dolt” and the “horrible” tv debates that are happening among the candidates for his replacement. The process for selecting a new prime minister is fascinating. First there’s a committee that sets out the SECRET rules for the process. There are principles for how it should work in the constitution, but the rules can be modified by the committee each time this process occurs! So it starts with a couple hundred members of the conservative party (replacing a conservative) nominating potential replacements. David had already told me that the ruling class is a closed group of mostly men who attended British “public” schools which are not free-in fact are very expensive, and who don’t have any connection or understanding of “regular” society. He describes the UK as being classist and this system of a relatively few men voting only solidifies that the government’s out of touch position.
With this prime minister replacement process, eight (or so?) nominees received enough initial votes and they then debated in a public setting. From there, the select members of the conservative party have a secret vote. Candidates must receive 30 votes to go to the next round. Two were eliminated last week in the first round. Six remain. When it gets down to two, a couple hundred thousand “grassroot” party members vote and ballots are mailed out for this step. AND WAIT FOR IT…This is the process for the conservative party! The UK Labour Party has a different process if it occurs to “their” prime minister. Isn’t that NUTS??? I have had the pleasure of going to Parliament twice and it is an incredible experience. I’d sure love to be there for this event! I can just hear the call of “Order!!!” If you’ve heard it on tv, you know it!
Anyway…lots to talk about! When we returned to Judy’s house at about 11:30, we did indeed have a glass (or two for some of us) of a lovely French white wine that David brought. They usually would enjoy it in the garden, but it was too hot so we retired to her sitting room. It was very British in all the best ways. After some more conversation, David and I retraced our steps back to Ivy Lane!
Truly a lovely experience in Canterbury.