A Peculiar Displacement

I love Sumerian guardian figures–curly hair, bushy beards, wings, and I’m sure what used to be colorful frocks. The world they come from is heavy with scents I will never know. I feel for and respond to them how I might if I met a living fairy. I am especially fond of the giant winged bull men that guarded major entrances. They are found in the corners of large museums, next to the Egyptian wing–and I have grown to love them most among their ancient Mediterranean basin peers.

This sense of the familiar joined to excited disquiet mirrors a taste of my time in the UK–I think I’m plugging along just fine until I’m handed a menu — there are many expressive and alien words full of promise on each list of foods. I’m still reeling with joy at the words “Eaton Mess” which is apparently a delicious meringue concoction.

I’ve tasted piccalilli (which sounds like a toy and a flowering edible vegetable to me). There was a dessert in a Bath pub I wish I’d obtained the spelling for–I can only reconstruct the sound of the word loosely as Belzebub. It had brandied prunes over some sweet cream or pudding.

I’ve had the joy of following two wonderful guides around–a Rita at St Paul’s and a John in Bath and they let me peer obliquely at ancient British mores — the mix of the proper and the improper which is reproduced with other angles and overtones in the American lands I inhabit. I love the colors and the tea and the sly whimsy and humor of these folks in their gray misty lands.

A friend of mine aptly pointed out today that what we deem exotic can be found anywhere–true enough. Oh the lovely unknown.