It's only a couple days now since I made it back home from my trip to the UK. After the first day, I got over the stress of the trip and started enjoying myself. I hope I wasn't too much of a drag on my companions.
As hoped, I only felt real despair a couple brief times while on my trip. Now I'm back, and it's full force again. I don't know what I want to be doing, but it isn't this.
My trip started in Manchester, first full day was spent at the Imperial War Museum (North), neat exhibits of 20th century conflict with a focus on the WWs. We eschewed the Man. U. game happening concurrently as we'd stick out like sore thumbs, and it might be a worrisome atmosphere considering that bars across the whole city only serve drinks in plastic cups on game days.
Next stop was the Hat Works museum in "where are you going? But where after that?"Stockport. Inside a former milliner's factory, the museum included a lovely tour by the plant's former engineer who taught us about the whole felting and hat-making process. The building's chimney had only been struck by 6 lightning bolts the night before, no big deal. Depending where you worked in the factory, your job involved mind-numbing boredom with any number of potentially fatal machines and boiling water. Just one more job I couldn't do... pile it with all the others.
That evening kicked off the first of several in York, a lovely town for those with a hankering for history. From Roman emperors to Viking traders to medieval plots for the throne, York has a little of everything ancient Britain. Especially rain. Yikes. My feet stayed wet for about 60 hours in a row. But I did climb the tower of York Minster Cathedral for an unrivaled experience of rain and cold wind from several hundred feet above the ground. I also learned that Vikings pooped. Like, a lot. Man, you might think you know a thing or two about pooping, but you're no Viking, I can tell you that. The life of a Viking was equal parts poop and degenerative joint disorder. One strange sideline in old York was holding an owl on my arm.
The end of our time in York brought us to the main event, the 158 Squadron Association Reunion. Very few men are left that did the same operations as my grandfather, but it was still a remarkable time with remarkable people that all share a reverence for the sacrifices that were made for our freedoms. Easy to forget about your freedoms in England though, with your every move on CCTV camera.
Liverpool is a city markedly in transition. Renovated hip pubs and a vibrant art scene contrast with rat-infested ,abandoned brick buildings. But the Beatles were from there, and I saw all their old houses and took the tour and bought the T-shirt.
And then back again. Little enough justice done here for the trip of a lifetime, but so it goes.