Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Lunch with the English

I just had lunch with two old friends from London, Steven and John. I reminded them that we met on my first visit to London... in 1981.

They repeatedly expressed a desire for me to come and stay with them in London. I was extremely touched by their kindness. They even bought lunch.

It's funny how we think our friends never age. I could've sworn they look the same today as on the day I met them, many years ago.

They're in New York for just a few days, visiting a lot of our old friends... friends whom I don't keep in very good touch with, I'm afraid. They leave for home tomorrow. Their itinerary wore me out just listening to it. They started out in Cleveland, drove up through Michigan, across to the Upper Peninsula, down through Wisconsin and then to Chicago. On the east coast they've been to D.C., Connecticut and New York.

This is something I love and admire about English gay couples "of a certain age." They are absolutely devoted to each other and wouldn't know what to do with themselves without each other. John and Steve are like that. As were the other English couples I met throughout the years. John & Ken, Nick and Robin and my dearest friend in England, Tom, and his late partner, Beauchamp. Beachie, as they nicknamed him, passed away in 1983 and Tom never repartnered aside from.. well, "cozy relationships with younger men" throughout the years.

The English are nesters.

I wish I'd been one.

Commuter Update:

Lousy weather wreaks havoc with morning commute in New York. Nudes and leather at 11:00!

I wrote the following e-mail to the general manager of the bus company I am forced to use every day, and copied my state senator and two assemblypeople:



I had the misfortune to be stuck in Academy bus number 8013 on Monday night for the evening commute from PABT in New York to the South Brunswick Park and Ride at Exit 8-A. It was 95 degrees inside the bus according to the red gauge on the dashboard. It was also 95 degrees outside the bus according to the radio.

Please try riding in one of your own buses on a 95 degree day, with no air conditioning, for an hour sometime. Trust me, you won't like it.

Then, this morning, your terminal sent 8013 back out for the 1st Madison Avenue run of the day (Dep: Twin Rivers at 5:40 a.m., Dep: South Brunswick 6:10 a.m.) It barely made it to the Park and Ride before the driver had no choice but to call it in for lack of air conditioning and your terminal had no choice but to send a service mechanic with another bus. He arrived 20 minutes after our scheduled departure time. We arrived at 59th & Madison at 8:15, nearly an later than usual due to the late departure, the usual buildup of weekday traffic on the Turnpike at that later time and the inclement weather.

By all accounts bus number 8013 is poorly maintained. Apparently no one ever actually works on repairing the air conditioning system, they merely recharge it, send it back out and hope for the best.

It's also known that your terminal no longer has a night shift for maintenance. How can you expect to maintain buses when they're on the road all day? You can't. Apparently it’s Academy’s policy to allow the buses to break down before taking action.

Then there’s the matter of the driver. After several mis-starts you've been sending us a very pleasant and polite man to replace our driver of many years, Rxxxxx Jxxxxx who recently retired. The replacement is, no doubt, an excellent charter driver.

But as you know, a good charter driver does necessarily make a good city driver.

Our new driver really needs to "toughen up" in order to deal with the aggressive and pushy taxi and bus drivers of Manhattan. Unfortunately, your man tends to "roll over and play dead" in city traffic, rather than tackling it the way Mr. Jxxxxx used to tackle it.

Your driver's curb-hugging timidity adds significantly to the time needed for the city portion of the morning commute.

It’s unreasonable to expect Mr. Jxxxx to come out of retirement for our benefit, but in exchange for the 4,140 post-tax dollars I give your Company every year in exchange for a lift to and from work, I do expect for you to 1) send us buses which have functioning air conditioning, b) send them on time and c) toughen up your drivers a little for city traffic.

Thank you for listening.

Very truly yours,

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