An American Couple in Delft
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London at 60

It was my lucky day. Recently I was fortunate enough to turn 60. I say fortunate enough because in the last year, two of my high school friends were deprived of doing just that and even my own mother didn’t make it that far, so 60 is kind of a milestone. I’ve never been one to really get nuts about birthdays ending in 0 although I do remember not being too happy about turning 10. Something about moving into double digits and losing afternoon recess all in the same year.

Lynn thought we should do something special. I was already thinking of doing something special: the Eagles were on television here, which doesn’t happen too often, against Jacksonville. Whoa, baby, what a clunker that turned out to be. Fortunately, she had bigger ideas. She thought it would be a terrific idea to spend my 60th birthday in my favorite place on this earth, London, England. This was the offer I couldn’t refuse.

We did a lot of walking around like we always do when we visit places. What I like so much about London is its ambience, just being there. Everything there is so, well, English. We took a spin on British Airways' London Eye which you may know of as the Millennium Wheel, a giant Ferris wheel almost 450 feet high. The ride is one time around which takes about 30 minutes. One gets a great view of London and most of the attached pictures are from there.

When we visit London, we like to see a show or two. This time we had no tickets in advance so we went to TKTS to see what was available. We found something called "Dancin’ in the Streets." I love that name; it conjures up such happy images. You may remember that as the title of a song by Martha and the Vandellas from 1964 (what?!? you weren’t even born yet in ‘64??) and this was indeed a whole show featuring Motown music. We love that stuff so we went. Not too surprisingly, there were several songs by Smokey Robinson. When the second act started, the guy who was acting as the emcee said they were going to do those two or three songs again because seated in the audience several rows from the stage was Smokey Robinson himself. He waved to the crowd but didn’t get up on stage. It seems that he was a little late getting to the show.

Around the corner from this theater is Craven St. which runs the length of Charing Cross Station. The house at 36 Craven St. was the home of Benjamin Franklin and has been recently restored. Herman Melville also lived on that street. Nearby is one of those quintessentially English pubs, this one called Sherlock Holmes. We went there after the show for some fine English ale. It was very crowded inside and because it was a pleasantly warm evening, we sat at an outdoor table. There were about ten other people outside, too. The hour was approaching midnight, and my actual birthday, so at about three minutes before the hour, Lynn, who likes to say she’s quiet and shy and tryin’ to get by, got up and announced that I was about to turn 60 and would everyone please sing Happy Birthday to me. One of the young guys at the table next to us asked my name so that he could sing in a "proper" way. And that they certainly did. When we got to the airport in Amsterdam, the immigration officer, who are usually very business-like and unsmiling, looked at my passport and gave me a cheery, "Congratulations!"

Let me pause here a moment to reflect. I’ve written more than 40 of these pieces in the almost two years we’ve lived in the Netherlands and I hope I’ve conveyed a sense of what we’ve seen and how much we’ve enjoyed it. But I don’t think I’ve ever publicly acknowledged just how much joy Lynn has brought to my life and I want to do that now. We got started a little late and only about two weeks ago celebrated our 13th anniversary. It’s been the best 13 years I could have ever imagined. For reasons that are still unclear to me, she believes in me and loves me without reservation. She lifts my spirits and keeps me grounded. She is the light and the love of my life. So, Lynn, I want to thank you for being so good to, and for me. You’re the best and I love you madly. This whole Europe thing has been amazing, and because I’m only 60, I look forward to our golden anniversary in only 37 years.

See other pictures of London.

See videos from London.

 

2008 Rick Wexler   last updated February 21, 2008