Before I tell you of my adventures in London and return to Grannie’s, I must say that now I can completely commiserate with those that have had an encounter with Norovirus. I can’t describe the awful completeness of the debilitating nature of this bug. In my case it ran its course in 60 hours or so, and with my complicating health issues I probably should have been hospitalized. I knew what I had and that the only treatment is to stay in bed and stay as hydrated as possible. A hospital IV would have been ideal but I have had enough of those and seen quite enough of hospitals. This was my first encounter with anything but a mild food poisoning, which is like a mosquito bite compared to the scorpion sting of Norovirus. At the moment I am scared of food that is not the freshest and prepared by me, shaking hands, or shared anything, and people in general. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norovirus I’ll get over the experience as what fun is it without people and food and “shakin’ it up baby”?
When I left you on my de-schooling journey (http://abuddhas.net/?p=130) I had snagged a decent hitch away from the the old-boy’s club of Blundells School, mastered by old boys of various stripes if you catch my meaning, and all the way into the heart of London. I was let out of the car without ceremony at a youth hostel. I had very limited funds, and had also broken the cardinal rule of never forgetting your towel, though I’m not sure I had even been taught that lesson yet.
The clerk no doubt saw dozens of young idealists without a clue every day, looking for a bed and perhaps some guidance around this huge and alien city. I believe I had five pounds (@ $12.50 at the time) and the bed was to be half a pound, $1.25, and included a bed in a dorm style arrangement just like at the school except with bunks. There was a large shower room and rows of sinks shared by gals and guys, as was the dorm, replete with the ambrosic and calming odour of hashish. This did nothing for my finances but everyone shared what altered states of consciousness they had available. Granola, trail mix, was also a shared resource but that is where the social equality ended and paranoia set in seeing as there was no hostel security. I slept with my shoes on.
A nice hot shower in the morning was co-ed but in no way prurient. Without a towel it was very much air dry and a squeak into yesterday’s clothes. That is only a minor reason to never forget your towel. You must read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy to have a more comprehensive Knowledge of the Implications.
So I had $3.75, about 1 lb of front desk guidance booklets, and a city of unimaginable size to explore. Another night at the hostel and a fish and chips and a pint and I’d be broke. That was not going to work. The light bulb that turned on was that I was still an American citizen and surely they would help in some way, Off to the embassy I trundled admiring all in my path and entered its lobby of empire with high hopes of being a fellow well met. I drew my military dependent card and proceeded to tell my woeful tale to the attending bureaucrat. His demeanor was not welcoming in the least. I was a hippy-ish looking kid making contact with and actually asking for help from Him and all he stood for in those years of kids not much older than me enduring the slaughter of Vietnam.
A kindly middle-aged lady next to me had heard our transaction, said that there were a few nights left in her room reservation at the embassy and that I would be welcome to them. My eyes lit up with a zest that only an unjaded youth could possess and I thanked her profusely. The eyes of the man behind the desk darkened as only a hardened careerist’s could, exclaimed without any displayed affect that that would not be possible and would I please leave the embassy. And there it was.
I stood on the sweeping steps of this massive edifice, hope dashed, caught between the idealism of a new shared and happy world and the actual harsh fact of slammed doors in the face of optimism. The lady from the embassy lobby came down the stairs to me and handed me a ten pound note, and told me I really should go home but see a bit of the city first. My spirits were at first lifted, and then a deep malaise set in; my education had truly begun.
You were likely wondering when we’d get back to the primary focus of part one of the Journal of the Hermitage. I’ll make my best effort not to break any more of myself so as to be able to continue in a more unbroken fashion. As I heal in the places I physically can, much of what I relate will be a mixture of miraculous insights and broken perceptions. There is no way around it. The entirely clear-minded child open to all possibility and dazzled by the improbability of it all falls from grace. What is found is hypocrisy, cynicism, deception and the rest of the detritus of human confusion. There is joy, exuberance and lust, empathy, compassion and the rest of the manifest of human love.
Next time, the journey back to Blundells to face the music. For now how about the soundtrack of the day: