Susan, Ed and I had a few days with granddaughter Abby, Hugh’s widow and her extended family. It was lovely to see them. I was with Hugh’s former colleagues, and some friends of his came from Seattle to see us. All very moving, but poignant because of—I’m sure Hugh would relish this metaphorical mess—the absent elephant in the room.
I crumple up very easily. One of his mates, a Seattle fire fighter, has lost too many of his colleagues and friends in the course of jobs and military service. He copes by remembering the good things and the good times, for life moves on. And so it does. But not for me yet: it’s a matter of getting the clocks to start ticking again. Or waiting.
Anyway, enough of this. What I want to comment on in this piece is the contrast between the image of what, according to the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation, life must be like under President Trump, and the reality. I tell you, life there is pretty much as it was under Obama. Surprisingly, immigration at Houston was quickest ever. Whataburger is still Whataburger. IHOP* is still IHOP, and I’ve gotten to like waffles and pecan syrup with my eggs and b, though as with the carfee Amurcans don’t know what “hot” means. And the number of fat people on mobility scooters seems much the same as it was two years ago (Burton is catching up).
This last comment puts me in mind of a 1973 episode in surgical outpatients at King’s College Hospital. The consultant was the Professor of Surgery, a lovely, gentle, lowland Scot who lived in modern architect-designed residence in Sydenham, regarded by cognoscenti as important enough to be illustrated in Buildings of England, London volume II (as it was then). He was not in the least like Lancelot Spratt, though he was well known for a fondness for the products of distilleries—say no more. On this particular afternoon he walked into a cubicle where on the couch was an enormously fat man with acres of flab wobbling over both edges. The worthy professor stopped, turned his head towards us, and with a terrifically wide grin on his face said in his gentle burr “hmmmm, a trifle obese, I see”, after which he conducted the rest of the examination with a joyful expression on his face.
But I digress. What of the floods? I hear you ask.
Nothing. We were in north Houston—Northampton, Tomball and Magnolia to be precise. We didn’t venture south to the mosquito-infested swamps on which central Houston is built. But we heard about the heroism and neighbourliness of people who were not affected as they dealt and deal with those who were.
And the wall?
When you live as close to the Mexican border as they do, and when you’re relieved that Mexican drug cartel bosses are being rubbed out, you might well be delighted at the prospect of a wall.
* International House of Pancakes. Don’t laugh. I think there’s a branch in Mexico. Or possibly Canada.