Later, Mum and I went 'up the town' and parked behind Waitrose supermarket,and as we got out of the car we were hailed by my sister who was just leaving the car park. We talked with her for a minute and then she handed me a phone. It's a prepaid phone from T-Mobile. So now I have a phone. First day and I have a phone. All I need to do is put some airtime on it. We then cut through The Cellars. The Cellars is a bunch of shops that occupy the old building that used to house a well-known pub called, not surprisingly, Ye Olde Cellars. The pub closed in the '80s and the off-licence that was part of the building was called Thresher Wine Merchants. This is where I worked for the 6 years immediately prior to my emigration to the States. To see all the different shops in there was odd, I mean, they had started putting shops in there when I was working at Thresher, but now there's more, and (gasp) Thresher itself is no more. It's a completely different shop now, called CookFood. Sells ready-to cook meals that are sort of gourmet stuff. Looks nice but pricey. I had to go in because it was my old workplace. Completely different on the interior now. I spoke to the guy who was the manager, and it turned out he's from freakin' Illinois! They had a job opening so he gave me an application form - that's when I found out he was from Illinois because he asked me to 'fill out' the form. Americans fill out forms. English people fill in forms. So I said, do I detect an accent? and the rest you already know. I said ooh, my friend Marissa lives in Kankakee!
We then popped across the street using the Pelican crossing, and for all non-Brits, and a few Brits maybe, I'd better explain. Prepare yourself for another trip into...
Mine Of Useless Information!
A Pelican crossing is just a regular crosswalk. You push the button, wait for the little green man, and cross the road. But its name derives from PEdestrian LIght CONtrol. Yes I know that's pelicon but who cares about one tiny letter,eh?
As we were preparing to cross I looked at the parade of shops opposite. Almost all had changed.
The classic line-up when I was a kid was: Norris's the greengrocer, where Aunty Jilly worked; then John Manson's the butcher's shop, Bowkett's the bakers where my Grandma Elsie worked for years, and Boots the Chemist. Well, Boots is still there, but it's now expanded into where Bowketts was; and Master Cutters, which was in the Bowketts building for a while when I was friends with Justin and he and I formed RePerCussion, but it's now where Norris's was; and I forget what's in the Manson's place but it's sure as heck not a butcher. On either side, no change - Lloyds Bank is still there although it's called Lloyds TSB now, and on the other end you have Norman Holmes the jeweller which has always been there. Knights hairdresser next to them has gone and is now County Clothes, and on and on. I used to be able to walk down the street and bump into at least a couple people I knew. I didn't recognise a soul today.
Later Mum and I drove to Rolvenden to see Grandad Eric, whom I hadn't seen since I last came over in late '94/early '95 for my other Grandad's funeral. We popped round to his house and visited for an hour or so, then it started to get dark and so we returned home to the wonderful smell of a beef-and-veg casserole, which Mum had popped in the oven before we left. After a grand dinner and a bit of Facebook-and-Skype time we settled down and pored over some photo albums full of pics from when I was a kid. I'm going to have to try to scan a few and post them to my Facebook page. The Green Mile was on telly and so we watched that for a while, then Chris and Mum retired to bed and here I am.
Well, I know this was a rambling post somewhat, but it was that kind of day. I shall now treat you to the first video I saw on VH-1 this a.m. Kind of a powerful one to start the day off right.