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I was very much looking forward to having The Mom come and meet some of the pals I’ve made over here. The thing was how to do it. I knew she’d be jet lagged so I decided that we’d stay at my friends’ house, and host a BBQ later that evening. The friends we were staying with are the kind of friends that hand you a set of keys and say, “You know where we are, come anytime.” And they expect you to take them up on the offer. So the plan was that we’d go and fetch The Mom up in the car, deposit her in a bed, leave her to sleep, and then she would emerge, slightly more refreshed and we’d have a nice evening enjoying the backyard.

Sadly, things took a turn, and my friends had to fly home to South Africa for a funeral. Still having keys, I thought about how we could somehow re-jig the plan. In the end, I decided it was easiest to book us into a hotel for the night, and have lunch in a nice restaurant.

So off we set, later in the afternoon for a late lunch. I’d been to this particular pub before, but from a different direction. I had a vague idea of where it was, and on my map it seemed simple enough. The Mom was game to walk and so we walked. Up the road until we had to make a left. East enough until it wasn’t. We were wandering around slightly lost when I spotted The Artist. I shouted over the road and he looked up, slightly bemused. Apparently he’d got himself turned around too. And was, as is typical, arriving in his own time zone, which is generally about 20 minutes late.

He and I greeted each other in the usual way, of continuing to walk whilst talking in a conversation that would appear to anyone else to have already been in progress. The Mom took all of this in her stride.

“Madame P’s been there for half an hour,” he announced.

Which is also typical.

His boyfriend The Psychotherapist had just arrived.

We wandered around for a few minutes, taking in the scenery, thought we’d found the pub, realised we hadn’t, and then found it. Quite pleased with ourselves, we walked in and Madame P and The Psychotherapist were waiting.

Immediately there was talk and shouting and laughing and wine ordered and it was all wonderful. Every single person at the table acted exactly as they always do which is precisely what I’d hoped would happen. It’s no good if people meet and everyone’s on their Sunday Best behaviour.

The Mom has always known my friends back home and so it’s always felt a bit off that she doesn’t know my pals over here.

We then decamped to Bristol for more meeting of friends.

TateLady came to meet us for a drink after work, and I think The Mom was slightly curious as to why I immediately ordered bread and olives, seeing as my Crohn’s had been a bit argumentative the previous couple of days, and I generally don’t order food when just having a drink. TateLady arrived and was pleased to see someone had had the presence of mind to get some food on the table. They got on like a house on fire.

Then we moved on to meeting ItalianLady a day later. The Mom had been very much looking forward to this because ItalianLady took me to hospital for my colonoscopy, and stayed with me the whole day when it didn’t happen and instead I had what we now believe was a kidney stone. Either way, she was a star and The Mom adores her even though they’ve never met. I had half a mind to just let the two of them have dinner themselves.

Our last date, so to speak, was my American friend. She is one of those rare people who just gets it and though she had a cold, came out to meet us for a drink. And this is when I was reminded of something of my childhood that I’d either forgotten or blocked out: the few summers I spent, along with my siblings, at The Mom’s work: an Olde Time historical village. The Mom delighted in regaling my American friend with all of this.

The best thing of course about all of this for me is not just that she’s met these lovely folks, but that she understands why I love living here.

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