I made a list of things I need to buy before taking off. My calender tells me that one week from now I will be in Moscow, and I now realize how time is running very fast.
On my to buy list were (among other things) Lonely Planet’s Trans-Siberian Railway and a haircut. And a book called Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford. Let’s leave the reason why I wanted this particular book in the middle, I just want to take it with me on that long train ride.
Now I realize I am a foreigner and my English is not Oxfords. I realized that even more in New York where people didn’t understand me at all, and where they were plain rude to me. Which makes me wonder why I want to go back to New York in the first place. Oh. Yes. I remember now. Right. Don’t get distracted now, you can do it, you can write a post where you don’t mention his name. Go on. Back to the bookshop, which was Foyles on Charing Cross Road by the way. I asked the bookshop assistant for Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford. And yes, foreigner, but I can say Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford and most of my colleagues will understand what I say when I do.
Not this British bookshop lady.
“What?” was what she said.
“Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford” I repeated even more articulate.
“How do you spell that?”
“Parade’s End?” I was amazed.
“Well, P-a-r-a-d-e-s E-n-d”
“Is that Parade’s with an S?”
“And who is the writer?”
“Ford Madox Ford”
“Is that spelled F-O-R-D?”
I was checking that I was indeed on planet Earth, I was, and I was biting my tongue now to not start screaming.
“Yes F-O-R-D. Ford” I managed to get out.
“And the rest?”
“How do you spell that?”
“M-A-D-O-X F-O-R-D” I spelled.
“Does he have two times Ford in his name?”
I just looked at her now, I was getting desperate and there was a man behind me waiting, and he certainly wasn’t amused.
“Oh right. I found it” she said.
“Good” was what I managed to produce, which was rather remarkable for the state I was in. But she hit back.
“It’s out of stock”
My brain exploded after this. I decided to try and find out if I really had a serious problem with my English pronunciation, I went to Waterstones. I went off the beaten track, crossed Soho through streets I hadn’t been before, I now know where the Red Light district is, and in the middle of this I found a hairdresser who gave me an excellent haircut for the price of – can you believe this, this is in the heart of London – 5 pounds. That made me feel better. Someone fiddling with my hair always calms me down.
I stepped out with a repaired head, found out that I was very close to my Cafe, which I gladly entered for, Waterstones could wait, a soup, bread and a coke with a pink straw and a sit at The Table. There was classic music in the background and behind me two women of my age were discussing the brilliance of Hot Fuzz, which put a smile on my face. I wrote 8 pages full in my notebook while sitting there enjoying the place. After that I went to the cinema for the fantastic Science of Sleep (more about that later) and after that I was ready for Waterstones. I took a deep breath, stepped to the counter, and asked the girl.
“Parade’s End by F…” I didn’t even have to finish my sentence.
“Oh yes we have several versions of that book, come along, I’ll show you where they are.”
I found my book, I refound a bit of my lost language confidence, I crossed 3 things of my list.
7 nights before take off.