An excellent photo, sneakily taken by Randi from upstairs

A memorial, a fresh visa and a game of American football

Last Saturday we held a memorial party for my dad on his birthday. I say ‘we’, but it was my aunt Carolyn who generously threw open her house and garden for the afternoon. This was a fitting venue because we spent so much time here as a family growing up – from Easter egg hunts to Guy Fawkes night fireworks – and dad would have been as thrilled as I was to be able to catch up with so many people there. Special thanks to those who spoke and shared memories of dad from different periods in his life, including Daryl who sent a wonderful video from Santa Barbara which was much appreciated.

Appropriately, given how often drinking in pubs came up in everyone’s speeches, we all decamped to The Island afterwards for the rest of the evening. This was actually one of the last pubs I went to with dad, so I’m very fond of it. Still drank lager, though, so not quite at his level yet… 😉

An excellent photo, sneakily taken by Randi from upstairs
An excellent photo, sneakily taken by Randi from upstairs

In other news, we have (another) new favourite local restaurant and were very excited to have an excuse to go back – about a week after our first visit – to celebrate Randi’s successful visa renewal. (We did it! All by ourselves!) As if I needed any more reasons to love London, it’s also heartwarming that the phrase “we’re out to celebrate a visa renewal” will immediately win you knowing smiles and a round of free drinks to celebrate.

The organisers put in a lot of effort to guide the crowds
The organisers put in a lot of effort to guide the crowds

We also hosted Tash, Cormac and mum for dinner at our place, plus enjoyed a very happy walkabout and long-awaited catch-up with Amy, Adam and baby Benji in Dulwich Park. But perhaps our most exciting recent outing was the result of Randi’s impulsive decision to buy tickets to one of the NFL’s annual games in London. So two weeks ago we travelled to Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium – the percentage of Victoria line passengers wearing NFL jerseys rising every stop – to watch the New York Jets get comprehensively demolished by the Atlanta Falcons. (I’m no expert on American football, but even I can tell that passing the ball works better if there’s somebody at the other end to catch it.)

Apart from the fact that every successful first down was accompanied by a piercing falcon ‘screech’ noise – and there were quite a lot of them – the atmosphere was really fun and, just like the pre-season Bears game I saw in Chicago, I found the sport a lot more fast-flowing and enjoyable to watch when it’s not being cut up by commercials on television. Our seats were also fantastic, although we were not aware that the singing of the American national anthem would conclude with a military flypast and for a brief moment we both thought the planes were heading right at us.

If you squint, you can just see Marisha Wallace sing the anthem from a disconcertingly thin platform
If you squint, you can just see Marisha Wallace sing the anthem from a disconcertingly thin platform
Our excellent view
Our excellent view
Wearing green for the Jets, which turned out to be a massive error of judgement
Wearing green for the Jets, which turned out to be a massive error of judgement

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