“Half memoir, half travel, A Yank Back to England...is an absolutely wonderful book, not only about going home again but also about love and family and tradition and the passage of the years.” —Michael Dirda, Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic (Washington Post) To see the entire quote, click here.
Here is a fabulous view of our favorite seaside town, Broadstairs—with Charles Dickens' Bleak House in the background as a literary bonus. Sadly we did not have time to go inside when we visited, but we understand it's now available for rental. Wouldn't that be the perfect spot for a Prodigal reunion? Or the perfect setting for a murder mystery...
“The airport we saw – much air traffic, is there?” I asked nervously. “God, no. One plane a day. Maybe two. Been there for ages, that airport, it’s right close to a Battle of Britain station. Spitfires.” “Spitfires?” My interest rose as my support for airplane noise abatement declined. “The old airfield runs almost parallel with the new one. But the new one never caught on. Hardly anyone uses it.” Then he turned and said, “Oh, I’m Roy by the way. If you need anything, just come by, I’m always around. No problem.”
The Archers was an institution. There were Archer Addicts. Fan clubs. Archer get-togethers. Many a flagging dinner party conversation could be enlivened by simply voicing a concern for one of the principal characters, such as, “I’m very worried about Shula.” During the year, Lew would airmail cassette tapes every two weeks, and I would try to listen to the recorded show at nine thirty on Sunday mornings, the same time the show’s omnibus edition was broadcast in England.
We ambled back up the hill into the high street, where we found the Old Crooked House. Whether this was the original old crooked house from the famous nursery song, we had no clue, but the very tiny abode, warped and deformed with age, certainly deserved its name. The house looked as if it had tried to uproot itself and gotten twisted and bent in the process. We walked around it and saw a tiny window in the arched curved roof. Amazingly there was a room upstairs, perhaps with an even tinier bedroom! Not much bigger than a child’s tree house, this fabulous building had been converted into a shop for expensive pottery.
Cousin Kevin (The Repairman Cometh) thought he'd had one too many when he spotted the door of this lovely book shop in Canterbury. He might have, of course, but in terms of the door it was just age taking its toll on the former Old King's School Shop, which was founded so many years ago everyone's forgotten exactly when. If you look closely, it says "circa" 1647 above the door! Doesn't this look like a great spot for a book signing?
I was in a giddy fog, quite like Mister Toad, totally in thrall to the hum of a hot roadster. Frances was shocked. She never imagined me much of a car man and, the truth was, I never had been. Cars were a convenient mode of transport, nothing more. But this was more. This was a speedy beast posing as a car. And I was posing as its trainer. But it did not last long. The euphoric fog lifted and reality set in. I knew it would not be fair, or nice, to encumber my poor old parents with bags on laps while I sat up front like Stirling, or Mario, or Jackie, or Graham, or—
Standing, from L to R: Lew (Dad), Frances (Prodigal Wife), Denis (The Prodigal Tourist), and Jessie (Mum). Floating: Kate (Prodigal Daughter).
About this blog
You are reading random vignettes, deleted scenes, and other extras from and about my book, A Yank Back to England: The Prodigal Tourist Returns. Enjoy, let me know what you think, ask questions, and thanks for your support! Cheers, The Prodigal Tourist
Years ago I shed my Cockney accent and left London's blighted East End for America. Since then, I’ve only returned to see my increasingly cantankerous parents and assorted relatives. Until my American wife comes along. She wants to tour, see the sights. No thank you. It’s not for me. But she insists, and I become a reluctant tourist in my former homeland.