Old Glory

 Old Glory flew from the deck outside our kitchen today. Of course given the current state of the US economy the word ‘Independence’ rings a bit hollow but Mr F is a patriot, albeit an absent one.

It can be a delicate subject. ‘If you love America why did you leave?’ is a perfectly legitimate question and I know how my husband would answer it. In the Eighties, when his children were young, New York was not a feelgood place. Push-ins and muggings were rife and the subway was a disgusting mobile slum in which you risked your wallet if not your life. It’s not like that now.

Absence can make the heart grow fonder and I’m sometimes homesick for England, but I know I’m looking back through a prism of nostalgia. What I have in mind is the England of, say, 1955, but with wi-fi and good coffee. Then I remember what London feels like now, away from the bright lights.

I’ve been watching, courtesy of Channel 4 On Demand, a series of documentaries filmed in the Emergency Department of King’s College Hospital. Mr F was a patient at KCH last year after a neurological emergency and I recall with a dry mouth and a pounding heart what it felt like to emerge onto Denmark Hill at midnight, a lone woman looking for a taxi. 

I shouldn’t be surprised at anything I’ve seen on 24 Hours in A&E and like all TV it’s undoubtedly edited for maximum effect, and yet, and yet… How did we arrive at the point where so many lives are befuddled and empty and ugly and violent?  Weren’t there enough other people, the kind who made England the envy of the world, to say ‘whoa! better draw a line here.’  Did anyone speak up or lift a finger? Did I?

What can I say? I raised four hard-working, upstanding citizens and they are all now doing likewise. Not enough though, is it?

And does Mr F’s star spangled banner yet wave? No it does not. I just hauled it in. It was making the neighbours’ dog bark. Dumb Irish mutt.

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