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Jour un

July 25, 2017

At some point last week I heard John Grisham being interviewed on the radio. God knows he’s a very successful author, although not one of whom I’m particularly fond. Apparently he’s written some sort of how-to-be-a-writer book which was one of the subjects of the interview. When asked what the most important piece of advice in the book was, he said, without hesitation, “You have to write at least a page a day.” It struck me as he said that that it’s been a while – quite a while – since I’ve written at least a page a day. My hush hush project is on hiatus. I tell myself I’ve taken the summer off to landscape and that normal service will resume soon, but absolute truth be told I’m not entirely sure it can be resuscitated. Mr Grisham did not specify that the page a day had to be fiction. Just a page a day. And I fear I need to get myself back into the writing habit. (A couple of paragraphs of drivel in my journal will not to do the trick. Here we are, full circle, starting another 42 day exercise. Why “Jour un”? All will be revealed. At least I’m starting on a day when I have something to report.

Six years ago, at Mike’s memorial service in Vancouver, his best friend Charlie, who’d come up from Seattle for the day, spoke of the many passions he and Mike had shared: peace, disarmament and baseball. At the end of his remarks he said that every year when the Blue Jays were playing in Seattle he planned to go to a game in Mike’s honour. After the formalities were over, I sought Charlie out and told him I’d rather like to be at that baseball game. And so a wonderful tradition began. Every summer since then I’ve gone down to Seattle for a few days when the Jays are in town.

This year, unfortunately, the weekend in June when the Jays were in town, Charlie and his wife Robbie had to be in California, so it was agreed that instead we would go to a game in July: the Mariners versus the damn Yankees. And that weekend has just past.

It did not get off to an auspicious start. I was sitting on the 8:50 ferry off the island on Friday morning headed for my reserved spot on the 10:15 ferry to the mainland when the word passport leapt to the front of my mind. Oh, my god. I hadn’t put my passport in my bag! Quickly rang Charlie to ask if he thought there was any chance I could get into the US with my driver’s licence. As I thought he would, he said there was absolutely no chance. So I exited the ferry, did a U-turn into the queue for the returning ferry, came back to the house, grabbed my passport and got back in line for the 11:20 ferry. It left half an hour late, ruling out even the tiniest possibility that I might make the 12:45 ferry to the mainland. It was departing as I arrived at the terminal. Even worse, it seemed I had a no better than 50/50 chance of getting on the 3:15. I told my tale of woe to the woman in the ticket booth. I think she took pity on me, as she directed me to a different lane than the one originally assigned. Bless her. Probably too late to say long story short, but I did make it onto the 3:15. Instead of arriving in Seattle as I had predicted (based on past experience) I would at 3:30, I arrived at 8:30. But arrive I eventually did. Robbie and Charlie put off their normal bedtime of 9pm to feed me and have a chat.

Things you notice immediately when you visit friends in a city: the chlorinated tap water smells awful and tastes like shit. Also, you feel as if you are being gassed when having a shower in chlorinated water. On the other hand, the city folks I know seem to have incredible water pressure in their showers. Despite being gassed, I could stand in Robbie and Charlie’s shower for an hour with the water pounding on my shoulder and neck.

Anyway, anyway…

Saturday morning, after my shower, it was time for one of the other Seattle traditions: a visit to the wonderful Seattle Mystery Book Store.

Time was when Charlie and I went there I would come out with an armload of books. Of course that was back in the day when I was still able to take on substantial contracts, before the black dog got me in its grip. Even after my ability to take on work was severely curtailed  I could still load up because I had my small, but useful early retirement pension from my days in journalism sitting in my UK bank account. That few hundred dollars a month that allowed me to go out for dinner or buy a really nice bottle of wine – and buy books whenever I wanted to do so. As previously noted, said UK pension took a beating in value after the Brexit vote and it took another beating this year following the UK election. Sigh.

So, instead of grabbing everything that tickled my fancy, I had to shop carefully: the new Michael Connelly and two Brunos. Unlikely to keep me going for months as past purchases had, but some contribution at least to keep this wonderful and sadly struggling book shop afloat. And wonderful to be able to spend some time in an actual independent book store.

In 2011 when this annual visit began, Charlie asked me what I’d like to do in addition to the ball game. He started to talk about exhibitions at the museum or art gallery. Yes, lovely, I’m sure, but not what I wanted. What I wanted was a ball game, the book store, a movie and either Chinese or Thai food, both of which I love, neither of which is available on the island.

So, after the book store we made our way back to Fremont to pick up Robbie and head out for dim sum. Yes! Dim sum! Oh, my god, I cannot even remember the last time I had dim sum. It was fucking fabulous.

Saturday evening was the perfect summer evening for a baseball game. The previous evening the Yankees beat the Mariners by quite a number of runs. But that evening the Mariners had the boost of this being the Mike Wallace Memorial Baseball Game and this time I was cheering for the Mariners. They scored an early run for a 1-0 lead. Predictably that didn’t last long. The score was even at the bottom of the fourth inning when the Mariners, obviously realising they were playing in Mike Wallace’s memory, scored three runs. It was a nail biting game (one Mike would have absolutely loved) with the Yankees catching up (got to see their new star Aaron Judge hit a home run), but never taking the lead. Tied at the end of the ninth inning. Still tied after the Yankees batted at the top of the tenth. And then in the bottom of the tenth Nelson Cruz batted in the winning run. Jubilation all round for the home team fans. A perfect baseball game.

As an aside, there were a surprisingly large number of Yankees fans at the park. Not sure if the imbalance between the visitor fans and the home team fans was as great as it is for Blue Jays games, when half of British Columbia heads south of the border to see the games and the stands are a sea of blue caps. But there were certainly enough Yankee fans to hear a roar of excitement when the visitors scored. I mention this because I can now fully appreciate what it is like for any Mariner fans who go to a Jays game (assuming they can actually buy a ticket) and must listen to and watch the Jays fans go mad when a run is scored against their team.

Okay, that was not the end of the weekend. However, I’ve managed not one but two pages and it is time to water the garden.

À demain.

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One Comment
  1. krysross permalink

    glad you had a good time off island

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