The following post contains All You Want To Know about my first visit to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Pirate, as well as few things you'd Probably Rather Not. But that's the sort of sordid detail you've come to expect from Mental Excrement. If nothing else, this blog lives up to its name, doth it not?
The train trip was uneventful, save for the profound nuissance of the cosmically rude 11-year-old female chavs sitting across the isle from me. Had it been a more boring weekend I might trouble to write an entire post on them and what I would have done if I was their mother. But we have more interesting things to discuss, no?
The Pirate picked me up and took me to his parents' home, where they met me at the door with an enthusiasm that can only be described in terms of Golden Retriever-level glee. I expected a polite handshake, a "Welcome dear it's so nice to see you how do you take your tea" kind of welcome. I did not expect to be crushed in the arms of two people simultaneously as they vied to be the first to hug me and kiss me on the cheek, exclaiming in full voices "Welcome, welcome, welcome! We're so glad to finally meet you! Do come in! How was your trip? Are you hungry? We've heard so much about you, we're just thrilled you've come all this way to visit!..." and so on and so forth. They are absolutely lovely people, and I can't create enough nice things to say about them.
They are also walking charicatures of the English middle class, stereotypical casting rejects from every British comedy ever made. She's warm and lovely, very sweet, very high-strung, and fusses over one constantly. "How is that, dear? Would you like some more? Do try a little of this. No, no, I insist. While you're here you absolutely must..." etc. The word "no" isn't in her vocabulary, except when she is refusing to accept any sort of assistance. She bent over backwards to make me feel at home (and I would have, if I'd been raised at the Four Seasons), and was absurdly enthusiastic about absolutely everything I had to say, be it about my work, my family, my past, my future plans, whatever. It's easy to see where the Pirate gets his joie de vivre. I loved her instantly.
Mr. Pirate was large, silver-haired, jolly sort of man with heavy jowels and fat lower lip which he mashed against my cheek in a sloppy kiss of greeting when he hugged me. (I didn't think English people hugged total strangers. Any thoughts?) He's the sort of man who says things like "God show, old boy" and "Gosh!,"and sprays spittle when he says them. He has a tremendously strong sense of propriety and How Things Should Be Done (you could almost hear the longing in his voice for the days of the Empire). When we could have a conversation (ie when Mrs. Pirate was out of the room, because it's near impossible to get a word in edgeways when she's present), we talked politics, history, cricket, and wine. He interrogated me very sublety and very effectively about my future plans and intentions, and I was left with the vague unnerving feeling that I'd said rather a lot more than I intended. It's easy to see where the Pirate gets his brains. Terrific fellow; we got on swimmingly.
The Great Controvertial Pie was a hit. Mr. Pirate went back for seconds and thirds, and Mrs. Pirate explained that she had been reading in a Bill Bryson book about how Americans always show up with pie to welcome a new family to the neighborhood and she was thrilled beyond words to be given a Genuine American Pie made by a Genuine American. Seriously, she was beside herself. (She even asked if I'd picked the berries, which was great because it gave me a chance to say that yes indeed, I had. Class.)
On Sunday the Pirate and I went for a long walk through some woods, along a babbling river, and up and over the moors. The heather was in bloom and the hills were aglow in the sun with purple and rust and gold. Glorious countryside. He took me for lunch in, well, it would be a criminal understatement to call it a pub, but let's face it, it was a pub. And criminal understatment is a national pasttime here, so what the hell. But the chef was a gourmet chef (even has a Michelin star), and the food was unbelievalble. Damn that swashbuckler knows how to eat well.
After our huge and leisurely lunch we wandered into the empty field next to the pub with a cricket ball and a couple baseball mitts. Thus began the Pirates crusade to make me into a first-class fast bowler. He insists I've got the right physique and natural temperment. There's just one problem: I throw like a girl. Well, I used to, anyway. A long hour in that field under the encouragement and watchful eye of Speedy McSpeed and I made rather significant progress. (Now I throw like a large girl.) I did rather enjoy it. I'm looking forward to working on my technique more with him. We had a lot of fun.
After that we came home, got out the chessboard, and put on the radio, listening to the drama of the scandalous England-Pakistan test match as it unfolded sunday evening. Then dinner with the 'rents, coffe in the sitting room, evening constitional to aid the digestive process, news on the telly, and finally curl up on the sofa watching The Magnificent Seven. Somehow I managed to fall asleep with 30 minutes to go of the movie. It must have been a combination of the happy exhaustion, full stomach, and warm Pirate reclining comfortably against my chest that sent me to dreamland just as the film was getting really exciting.
Monday we wandered into the village where we admired the explosive assortment of hanging baskets and window boxes, perused an art gallery, a bookstore, and few gourmet delis. I bought a load of Christmas gifts for my family, and the Pirate (operating under orders from his mother) bought me a small wheel of good, local cheese. Yum! We met Mr. Pirate for lunch at the nearby golf club, where he (not the Pirate, Mr. Pirate) invited me back for Christmas. Very touching.
Then off to the train station where the Pirate waited with me on the platform, kissed me passionately and appropriately as the train rolled in, didn't let go of my hand until the last possible second, and stood there, waving, until I was completely out of sight. Eat your heart out, Bogie.
I think the weekend was a smashing success. No once was anyone offended, accidently or otherwise (that I could detect), both Mr. and Mrs. Pirate appear to absolutley LOVE ME (yay!!!), and as far as I can tell I've been compeltely welcomed to the family. They were wonderful people, real people, with a house full of photos of the boys (Pirate and his brother), trophies and certificates, models of ships and airplanes, souveniers of family holidays, threadbare, mismatched rugs, shelves overflowing with well-read books, and a healthy layer of dust that suggested the inhabitants had better things to do with their time than run around all day with a feather dusters in hand, preening and cleaning the Household Memories. They're a strong family, justifiably proud of their offspring, supportive but not overprotective, and not unwilling to let them take their own risks and make their way in the world. (Very much like my own family, really.) Love 'em. Love 'em six ways to sunday. I couldn't ask for better in-laws.