I think about the gentleman in tweed and suede elbow pads just about once each year in the morning before the fireworks.
I was nineteen, alone for the first time in my life, and took the train from London to Cambridge. I’d befriended his adult daughter seated across from me on the ride north immediately after leaving from the ninth platform at King’s Cross. I’d asked her if we were on the right train, which worried her at first, but soon enough were were talking. Her father lived in Cambridge, and by my old journal notes I think her name was Christine (but even back then, I was already so distracted by the present and undisciplined in keeping a journal that Christine is at best a two week old approximate guess for a name) and she lives in the city and is visiting for the weekend. She has a book but “is in a chatty mood.” Which leaves me little opportunity to write words in my red notebook. There are red poppy fields out the window.
By the time we’ve arrived at the Cambridge station, about an hour later, Catherine (was it?) offers to give me a ride from the station to Pembroke. I had no idea how long the walk or a taxi ride would be — in fact up until that morning I’d never even been in a cab — and so instead I find Cathy introducing me like some lost puppy to her father in the station parking lot. He’s on the right side and drives us past buildings and wet streets.
The father is chatty too, making some passing reference to getting the colonies back, and then asks me, in that proper accent through which it is impossible to detect any irony:
— Do you eat Pumpkin Pie on the Fourth of July?