After France, September 1998
Side note: In London, telephone booths don't just offer a means of calling home. They also provide additional calling suggestions, through advertising cards that are helpfully taped inside.
While in London, I also picked up some postcards with unusual shapes.
On September 22, I attended the auction at Christie's.
The catalog beautifully displayed the corkscrew offerings. The official program detailed what we were scheduled to do. On the other hand, here's what I did.
Sunday, September 13, 1998
- 1851: Walter Reed, bacteriologist, born.
- 1814: Francis Scott Key wrote the words of "The Star-Spangled Banner".
I flew to London. I checked into the Rembrandt Hotel. Not much else happened.
But, some food was on my menu, for sure.
Monday, September 14, 1998
- 1852: The Duke of Wellington died.
- 1860: Niagara Falls illuminated for the first time.
We had drinks and stuff at a little after 6:30PM ... at the hotel. About 30 members showed up ... with an almost equal number of "go-withs".
Tuesday, September 15, 1998
- 1876: Bruno Walter, conductor, born.
- 1784: Lunardi made his first balloon ascent in England.
We visited the Tower of London ... in the rain.
But, I cut out early.
The balance of my Addicts, after seeing the Ravens and the Beefeaters, visited the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese for a traditional pub lunch.
I went to an Indian restaurant on the Brompton Road for some "tandoories". It is just about 150 yards west of Harrods. Oh, yes, the name of the place is SHAHEEN of KNIGHTSBRIDGE. Do go there!
Wednesday, September 16, 1998
- 655: Pope Martin I died.
- 1859: Lake Nyasa discovered by David Livingstone.
I cut out completely.
Though the rest of my group did take a coach drive to Waddesdon Manor ... a place designed in the style of a French Renaissance Chateau. It was built in the 1870s for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild.
From there they went to Oxford to visit the college where Samual Henshall was a Fellow in 1789. By the way, Mr. Henshall was an early corkscrew addict of sorts. Or, at least we hope he was. Anyway, all of we (us) contemporary addicts of the same affliction have some or more of his creations in our collections.
Today, on my own, I went to an Oriental restaurant ... twice. Well, to be precise ... two different Oriental restaurants ... BUT, both are in London. One is an old favorite (Chungs), just opposite Miss Selfridges. The other is a Thai place at 136 Brompton Road (Khun Akorn).
Thursday, September 17, 1998
- Constitution Day in the United States
- 1871: The Mont-Cenis Tunnel opened.
This morning we had a "general sale and display" of corkscrews in the hotel Queens Room ... a few ICCA people, plus some invited dealers. We have had "general sales" at ICCA meetings before ... but, this was the first time that we invited dealers. I think it is a good idea: it freshens the table of wares. But, I didnt buy anything. And, I dont know why ... as there were some very nice pieces available. Maybe I am spending too much time with my balloons ... spreading myself too thin interest wise.
I cut out for a longish bit this afternoon ... to have lunch with an English/American friend.
Then at 4:30 we had the obligatory ICCA AGM:
IT WENT LIKE THIS
- Call to Order
- Remarks from the Chair
- Remembrance of Deceased Addicts
- Apologies for absence
- Minutes of the 1997 meeting in Avignon, France
- Financial Statement and Annual Subscripton
Hey, we have $6920 in the bank!
- The Homer Babbidge Award
No one got it!!!
- The Frank MacDonald Award
Ferd Peters captured it!
- The Robert P. Nugent Award
Klaus Pumpenmeier was the winner!
Kept at 50.
- Election of Officers
Joe Paradi did RIGHT.
- Matters arising from previous minutes
- Committee reports
- Progress report - 1999 AGM
It is "on" for Philadelphia for the end of the first week in September 99.
- Venue and dates for future Annual General Meetings
Germany, in the first half of September in the year 2000.
I had dinner with the same English/American friend with whom I had lunch.
Friday, September 18, 1998
- 1905: Greta Garbo, actress, born.
- 1851: The New York Times began publication.
Saturday, September 19, 1998
- 1551: Henri III, King of France, born.
- 1870: The Siege of Paris (by the Germans) began.
Sunday, September 20, 1998
- 1803: Sir Titus Salt, manufacturer and philanthropist, born.
- 1876: Sir Titus Salt, manufacturer and philanthropist, died.
- 1906: The Mauretania launched.
Monday, September 21, 1998
- 1957: Haakon VII, King of Norway, died.
- 1949: The Federal Republic of Germany formally came into existence.
Here in London I watched bits and pieces of the Clinton thing. I guess most of you did also. SKY, FOX and CNN carried it in Europe uncluttered with commercials. Sadly ... well, frankly I would have welcomed the commercials ... especially if they were GAPs Jean ads.
Tuesday, September 22, 1998
- 1914: Alain-Fournier, writer, killed in action.
- 1955: Commercial television inaugurated in Britain.
Yahoo stock soars due to unprecedented Internet taps into its Clinton coverage.
My good friend, Bertie Miles, was very pleased with the results of todays corkscrew auction at Christies.
Wednesday, September 23, 1998
- 1939: Sigmund Freud, psychoanalyst, died.
- 1779: The naval battle between the Bonhomme Richard and the Serapis off Flamborough Head.
Thursday, September 24, 1998
- 768: Pepin III, King of the Franks, died.
- 1916: Krupps Works at Essen bombed by the French.
God willing, I am going home.
Friday, September 25, 1998
Well, it didn't happen that way.
I had originally booked a flight back to Fort Lauderdale for September 24, but Hurricane Georges threatened to approach Florida laterally just as my scheduled flight would be coming in for a landing vertically. The resulting confluence of FLL arrivals could prove most unpleasant, and so sticking around London for a couple of extra days appeared to be the more prudent plan. With the ICCA meeting and the Christie's auction over, I figured everything would be quite calm in London. In planning these extra idyllic days, however, I hadn't counted on the power of British alarm technology or the possibility that my hotelier might use it.
This morning, at about 4:00, the loudest noise imaginable ripped through my peaceful slumber. The fire alarm! By canceling my flight, I had apparently traded a maritime hurricane for an urban inferno. With a decibel power that would be the envy of any rock band, the hotel's alarm system ejected me from my repose and into a frenzied quest for orientation.
Waking up in a strange environment can always be a bit confusing. When you move from hotel to hotel, you always have to allot the first minute or two of each day to an inventory of exactly where you are, what your time zone is, and what language you might expect people to speak as your day progresses. With an apocalyptic death knell suddenly jangling all the tiny bones in your inner ear, those important moments are denied you, and primal "fight or flight" instincts grab you by the sphincter. In this instance, as I was alone in my London hotel room and there was nobody available to "fight," a hurried departure seemed to be my only available option.
After significant fumbling in the dark, I found a light switch and was able to pull on some jeans and a shirt. Then I headed out the door, down the hall and down the elevator. (I quickly realized that the elevator was probably not the appropriate means of escape, but by then it was too late.)
Out on the street was an entire hotel's worth of sleepy, disoriented guests. It's quite interesting what a surprise bed check at 4:00 am can produce. Surely there were many stories here, but for the most part we were all too dazed to think about it at the time. Were heads of state and their young interns among the unsuspecting refugees rousted from their beds and assembled on the street? Perhaps a Phone Booth Girl or two? There were stories here, for sure, but they will never be known.
The single observation that was immediately apparent: Teenage girls are the only ones who, yanked from their beds at 4:00 am, manage to look really good nevertheless. The rest of us squinted without our contact lenses at one another's perpendicular, slept-on-sideways hair.
The alarm turned out to be a false one, and we all went back to our rooms and our individual stories. Meanwhile, Hurricane Georges veered left and headed for New Orleans instead of Florida.