Friday, June 01, 2007

Trip to London on My Birthday

Entry for 31 May 2007:

Today is my 57th birthday. I got up this morning, stuffed the Complete Song of Robert Burns 13(!)-CD box set that Diane gave me for my birthday into my backpack, and took me and my suitcase off to the Hyndland train station so I could catch the 9:39 Virgin Express train to London Euston. It was a lovely sunny day, about 60F (15C) already at quarter to 9 in the morning.

As we travelled south, first through southern Scotland, then through the Lake District south of Carlisle, I marvelled at the intense green of the fields, dotted with sheep, this year's lambs growing up already but still playful. I’d been up late last night doing email & packing, so it took me most of the way to Carlisle to write up the dream in the previous entry, as I was also listening to the first volume of the Burns Songs set, which consists of lovely, simple folk settings, some familiar, some not.

I started work on a manuscript for the German-language person-centred therapy journal Person, which I had realized last night was technically due today. I will be seeing Peter Schmidt tomorrow, and it was he who asked me to write the article, so I thought I’d better at least make a start. I seem to live always at the edge – or just over the edge – of one deadline after another. “Because I would not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for me”, wrote Emily Dickinson, the great but eccentric 19th American poet. After awhile I turned my attention reviewing a promising but as it turned out ultimately disappointing manuscript for J of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, dozing from time to time as we sped south toward London.

It felt like 70F degrees in London (it was at least 20C), with a light breeze, as I walked from Euston Station to Regents Park. The Park was full of people, especially families with small and children, enjoying the beautiful weather. I managed to locate Regents College (where Mick Cooper did his training in existential therapy, I’m told), and the book launch event that Dave Mearns had invited me to. Dave and Brian Thorne had persuaded their publisher, Sage, to sponsor a free continuing education session for Person-centred trainers, complete with free books, muffins and wine. I had a fun time hanging out with this crowd, watching Dave and Brian position themselves in their answers to the participants’ sometimes challenging questions. After the question & answer session, I stood around and talked to different groups of people for quite a while, discussing research, life in the UK. A truly enjoyable way to spend a birthday afternoon!

Brian, Dave and I took the Tube (London Underground) back, so I got good use out of the Oyster Card that Chris & Nancy talked me into buying last October. (This is a money card for riding on the London Underground and bus system.) Dave and I hung out for a bit at the place we’re staying near the Millenium Bridge, to went to meet Brian, Bill & Sue at an Italian restaurant near Oxford Circus. Brian has been eating at this same restaurant for 50 years; when he first started eating here, the present owner’s grandfather was running the place! It turned out to be an entertaining, relaxing meal, after which we all staggered off to our respective places.

Finally, back at the flat, Diane and Brendan phoned to wish me a happy birthday. One of the ways we celebrate birthdays in my family is to analyze the number of one’s years. Hmm… 57 = 3 X 19 = the product of two primes, or as Brendan pointed out, the legendary number of the Heinz company’s varieties. All in all, a lovely day learning things and hanging out with friends while we worked, at a leisurely pace, getting ourselves geared up for tomorrow’s long Journal meeting

P.S: I mustn’t forget the Badgers, who would be offended to left out, since they have decided to share a room with me here at the flat. Dave reported that they had a nasty shock on the way to the airport this morning: they passed a dead baby badger along the side of the road, and were badly shaken by this. They insisted on hanging out with me, so they helped me fetch the track labels for the Burns CDs and encode the first 6. They have been sitting on my silver Pukka Pad all evening, which is a place of Great Honor, so I hope they appreciate it. While they are not as cute as Diane, they do have very nice black and white fur and I certainly appreciate the company.

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