Friday, July 31, 2009

Adam Comes to Visit

At the end of June, we moved out of our room of ten months and directly upstairs to a new room. Same home, same housemates (mostly), but a different and cheaper room.

We were quite happy about this, but it was slightly disorienting when Adam arrived the next day. Fortunately we didn't spend too much time among the stacks and boxes and suitcases; instead, we got straight out to the world's original and best tennis tournament: Wimbledon.

I've never even been that into tennis, but I still watched Wimbledon over the summer as a kid. And Adam played tennis for several years in high school, so it certainly meant more to him. Here we are at Centre Court.

We took a few wrong turns on the way there, but we were well equipped with food, drink, and sunscreen. Britain was deep in the throes of Murray Mania, so even though Andy Murray was the guy we really wanted to see, we counted ourselves lucky to watch Roger Federer warm up. He had already won five Wimbledon titles and, two days after our visit, won this year's tournament as well.

We also took in a juniors' semi-final match courtside.

This guy ended up winning the men's junior title.

Between the courtside beers and our very classy matching hats (more on that later), it was a great day out. The grounds were crammed to capacity, and I can only imagine how crazy it would have gotten had Murray won; unfortunately, Roddick beat him, so it was an uninspired trudge off the grounds that afternoon.

Fourth of July weekend was the first in what was to become a long string of great weekends. We decorated our house in American flags, Adam brought red cups for a genuine, long-overdue, and extremely popular tournament of beer pong, and a night of merry-making was had by all. Allison, our English flatmate, contributed with an impressive assortment of fireworks... we even threw a frisbee around down at the local park — it felt like a real Fourth of July!

While we mostly lounged around the house and the local park over the weekend, the next week was more eventful. It kicked off with Fellows' Night at the RCM, where the outstanding Ossian Ensemble premiered a short piece I wrote for them to celebrate the anniversaries of Haydn, Mendelssohn, and Purcell. After the concert, I was lucky enough to meet Graeme Napier, a Minor Canon at Westminster Abbey and a truly extraordinary person. The next night I had already been invited to a kind of delayed Fourth of July party at his home on the grounds of the Abbey. Most of the guests were Americans of some sort, and all were interesting in some way — a human rights lawyer who spends most of her time in war zones, priests who make fun of praying in Latin, a sculptor, a few people from the American embassy. Of course I'm not doing any of them justice in this short setting, but trust me: it was the most eclectic conversation I've ever had. After dessert (accompanied, as were all the courses, by its own wine), Graeme proved that none of us knew the words to our own anthem. We all assured him that we did, but when the time came, sure enough... we cracked.

O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? ...(awkward silence)...

Here's a nighttime picture of the Abbey I snapped on the way out.

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