Saturday, 26 February 2011

Day After London

I woke up to heavy rain hitting the bedroom window and felt even luckier for yesterday's sunshine. Looking at the clock and seeing it was only 7:30 am, I told myself it was Saturday, to relax and sleep in. So I did, waking at 10:30 am to a loud knock at the door. I jumped up thinking it might be one of the books I've ordered from, but no, it was a clean cut, well dressed, shiny-faced man and woman with pamphlets of...guess what!..."The Watch Tower"! I couldn't believe it. How did they get into the building? It astounds me how the people who follow that religion can be so oblivious to the rude welcome they must receive more often than not (I know I've just committed an oxymoron here - rude welcome). I just looked at them in disbelief and said, "I've just been sleeping, if you don't mind." They apologized and shoved two Watch Towers in my hand before I slammed the door. Years ago at Keats I was busy painting or doing something upstairs early one morning when there was a knock at the door. This was in the middle of the week in the winter when no one except for the handful of us who lived there was around. I left what I was doing and made my way to the door, only to see, again, two clean cut, well dressed, shiney-faced people - a man and a woman. She was even wearing high heels! This was Keats Island - there's no pavement anywhere, just gravel roads. Where had they come from and how did they get to the island? I even asked them that, going a bit further by saying, "You guys seem to be everywhere." I remember as a child, living way out in Coquitlam, which was definitely the sticks in the 1950s, hearing a knock at the door, seeing mom flick her bedroom curtain and then ask me to answer the door and tell them she wasn't home. So I did. I was about seven or eight years old at the time. I knew I was telling a bald-faced lie, but having been given full reign to prevaricate, got some pleasure from it. I opened the door and confidently announced that my mother was not home...she was out shopping. The man squinted at me in what seemed a menacing sort of way, at least to my young sensibilities, and said, "But it's Sunday. The stores are closed." I just stood there and must have looked so pathetic they said, "Never mind, we'll come back another time." I wanted to die, and I think my mother felt horribly guilty about putting me through it. I've had a hard time being "Christian" about Jehovah's Witnesses ever since.

Even though it was raining today, I needed to walk, and so headed along the river bank, past the "Compleat Angler Pub" and up past the lovely stone houses alongside the cathedral. I browsed on the shelves in front of a couple of second hand book shops and chose a paperback for £1, one of the twelve novels written by my prof Michele Roberts. Then I retraced my steps back along the river path to Morrison's where I bought a fresh trout, a bottle of pinot grigio and some green beans for my supper. I already had some new potatoes to go with it and cooked up a pan with fresh tomatoes, onions, and olive oil, lightly salted and peppered, to pour over the fish. It was truly delicious. While I was enjoying it, I heard voices down inside the front entrance, then singing accompanied by a harmonica. I think they just wanted to test out the acoustics, which sounded fabulous, because I then heard the heavy front door close. I ran to look out the window in time to see three men walking down the sidewalk in the rain, one playing the harmonica.  

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