Saturday, August 17, 2013

AUTOBIOGRAPHY


From: PETRA BUTT  xxxxx 
Sent: Saturday, August 17, 2013 11:04 AM
To: Randy Traweek
Cc:  xxxx 
Subject: Re: Where to Begin in the City of Angels
Oh my god !!!!!!

Randy tis just such an unbelievably funny story ... I was in fits of laughter all the way through...the funniest thing by far the most passionate and desperate kiss you never recovered from... I'm rolling on the carpet with fits... 

On a more serious note ... incredibly captivating writing!!!

Thanks for making such a massive effort. I am amazed how far you have been round. Did you visit Lake Constance in Germany? I was born there .. near to Bavaria.

Not long now!

Kind regards

Osaria


From: Joseph K
To: 'Neville Copperstone'  xxxx; xxxxxx 
Sent: Friday, 16 August 2013, 5:07
Subject: RE: Where to Begin in the City of Angels

I used to lead bicycle trips, primarily with teenagers. We would usually start in London, of course, and then travel west to various places like Stratford upon Avon, Oxford, Bath and Stonehenge, Salisbury and its magnificent cathedral, eventually heading south to Plymouth or Portsmouth for the boat to France. No Chunnel back then. We would ride from Cherbourg or Isle de Batz or some place to Dinan,  various parts of Northern France , depended upon the trip, then eventually take a train to Paris. Then either a train to Bern or perhaps cycle the Loire Valley or to Chartres, Orleans and then to bits of Germany (usually Bavaria), Austria, all over. I remember the endless and brutal hills of Devon nearly devouring me. I remember being saved by Devonshire Clotted Cream. We have nothing like that in the United States. I have no doubt that if Heaven exists, a scone with Devonshire Clotted Cream is one of  the first things they serve you.

Later, I began taking solo trips and those were the real epics. Since a teenager, I always wanted to see the Loch Ness Monster as I loved any and all "unsolved mysteries" and when I started cycling at 14 I always wanted to bicycle the Scottish Highlands. Approx. ten years ago I set out from London bound for Scotland and the Highlands in particular. At one point I left the confines of my "tourist map" of London, but still hadn't reached the countryside where I could wander the country roads listed on my Michelin maps. Those maps were so detailed, I think one inch equaled one inch. With no direction known, other than north, I just kept heading generally north on the outskirts of the city. At one point I came to a T in the road and in either direction I could see nothing heading north. So I waited for a passer by. Eventually a garbage truck came slowly up the street. I asked this rugged man which would be the best way to go if I wanted to head north. He said, "Where are you going?" I said, "North." He said, "I know that, but where?" I said, "North. I just need to head north." He said, "But where north?" I said, "Well eventually I want to hit Scotland." I wish I could describe the look on that man's face. It was like I had answered, "The North Pole." He looked across at his partner and said something like, "My God. This bloke is riding his push bike all the way to Scotland." I think he pointed to the right just out of confusion.

I meandered all over the Yorkshire Dales and stumbled into the Lake District. I had no idea so much of England was north of London. On the tiny globes we have in school, London looks like it is roughly in the middle. And I'd ridden south to the Channel many times. I figured it couldn't be that much further. As it turned out, I miscalculated. From the Lake District I finally made it to the border at Jedburg where I meandered my way eventually to Edinborough.  Eventually I was at Stirling Castle, Loch Lomand and indeed Loch Ness. Didn't see the monster. In fact it was raining so hard when I got there, that although the hostel is right on the Loch, I barely even saw the Loch. I rode to the top at John O'Groats, took a boat to Orkney Island and to this day wear a silver bracelet and ring from that wonderful island 24/7. Just recently I took them off for the first time in many, many years. I did it begrudgingly. But I needed an MRI of my wrist. Nothing short of an MRI will pry that jewelry off my wrist and finger.

Back on the mainland, I headed west through the endless clouds of midges  (no-see-'ems)  to catch a boat to the Outer Hebrides. From there I turned south island hopping from island to island until I reached the Inner Hebrides and the Isle of Skye, Iona and lord knows where all. Eventually I ran out of time and had to catch a train back to London. It wasn't too long after they'd deregulated British Rail. What a wise move that was. Do we thank Margaret Thatcher for that or Tony Blair? Suspect it was Thatcher. No one else could be that stupid. Anway, with a thousand deregulated rail lines, it was virtually impossible to get even to Glasgow with a bicycle, let alone London. Through some freak miracle of nature, they managed to cobble a train trip for the two of us back to London. It wasn't easy. The poor woman in the station nearly had a heart attack trying to print me the tickets I needed. I was certain I'd never see my bicycle again.

I have many of these stories. Countless stories. I have two different, but similar adventures in Spain/Portugal alone. My Bath adventure will have to wait. But that widely meandering trip from London to Orkney, the Hebrides and back was really something. I spent time with Sylvia Plath, Beatrice Potter, the Bronte Sisters; I went all over the place.

As I sit here writing in my den/office/bedroom, there is a picture of me with my bicyle (including full camping gear) on the bookshelf right behind me. I am standing on the photo rock at John O'Groats. August 4, 2002. One arrow points to Lands End  (the southernmost tip of England, you guys) , 874 miles away. My route from London may have carried me twice that far. Another arrow points to Los Angeles some 5,953 miles from home.
It appears I weighed less than I do now.

In the meantime, I will say this about Bath. I received one of the best kisses I have ever received in my life somewhere around three or four in the morning in Bath. I had met some "locals" in a cellar bar dating back to something like 1400. They took a shine to me. The atmosphere was as thick as shepherd's pie. I loved it. They took me to some after hours club. A fair bit of drinking occured prior to the after hours and the after hours for some reason gave us no reason to slow down. I was hours away from having to bicycle to Stonehenge on the way to the cathedral and youth hostel in Salisbury. The girlfriend of one of the young men decided to kiss me goodbye. Though standing right in front of him, she did not kiss me like someone with a boyfriend. Instead, she kissed me like someone without a boyfriend for the last three hundred years. She kissed me like she was long overdue. I kissed her back or perhaps more accurately just tried to keep up. I was not too successful in that regard.

Though it came somewhere in the mid 1980's, to this day I'm not entirely sure I've recovered from that kiss.

The vicious, mercilous headwind that struck us every inch of the way to Stonehenge and Salisbury did nothing to assuage my hangover when the teenagers woke me up after breaking back into the hostel and a few hours of sleep at most. Quite the opposite, in fact.

That kiss may have helped.

But not much.

-Joseph K







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