chance meetings

Dear friends

If you’re part of any type of community, you will know the phrase, it’s a small world. That’s true but it doesn’t always feel like a small world when you live in big cities, visit new cities or when you’re taking a break.

Not long after I moved to London, 1996, big metropolitan city, home to approximately 6.5 million individuals, I was in an area of London, I think heading to an exhibition and coming out of Angel tube station during rush hour. And who do I pass entering the tube station, my little brother. Yes, I knew he was one of those 6.5 million people but he lived the other side of London, and had been in London for a few years. He was just as shocked and let out a jovial laugh of shock as we hugged and he explained he couldn’t really stop because he was on his way somewhere!!!

Same year, still in London, leaving another tube station (St James Park), middle of the day and I hear someone call my name. This time a lady who I really did not recognise. But she knew my name and then told me she hasn’t seen me since I was about 14 years old. We used to attend Sunday school together at the New Testament Church of God! As she told me her name, I was still in shock that she recognised me, then in my late 20s but I could barely recognise her. Clearly I hadn’t changed that much! We politely asked for each others parents, wished each other well and continued on our independent journeys.

Later that year, 1996, I travelled to Canada and USA on holiday, and I was in Salt Lake City, Utah, casually wandering through a shopping mall on my own. Across the atrium I see another black person, possibly the only black person that I saw in Salt Lake at that time :), so imagine my shock as he called my name! As I approached I recognise him from the stake (area of the church) in London – he had moved to live, or study, in Utah. We arranged to meet up later that day and that was the last I heard of him. I was already engaged, I think he was too as I recall. Remember, back then the Internet was rare, expensive, and the term social media had yet to be coined!

A couple weeks ago our family went to the London Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. These are sacred places and this temple serves the southern half of the UK. We decided stay overnight so it wasn’t so rushed even though we are only a couple of hours drive from it. Saturday afternoon we prepare to head back home. Daur2 and I quickly head towards the accommodation for… something… (I forget what) and see two men; the tall black man recognises me, calls my name, and, lo and behold, it’s the same friend from Utah, now living back in England, in the Midlands, 200 miles from us! It has been nearly 23 years!!

Before we make it into the building we meet two more people that know me – well, one knows my husband – by which time Daur2 states: “You and Dad know ALOT of people!!” I don’t think we do, but that day, there certainly were lots of chance meetings. And it is more lovely to meet old friends at the Lord’s house and knowing that in our own party of the Lord’s vineyard we are each individually trying to remain true to the Lord.

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student days… (a quick memoir)

Dear friends

30 years ago I was towards the end of my first year studying architecture. I may have mentioned before, I studied at University of Edinburgh – it had been my long time desire to study there and I was blessed to make it. I absolutely love my Edinburgh days; I made great friends and had great experiences. I loved studying architecture, that had been my long time desire since the age of about 14 years. However it was not a pleasant experience as generally I recall struggling with the large egos of tutors and fellow students, not all, but enough!

30 years later and I am traveling to a local university where I have been tutoring first year architecture students these past six months. How enlightening it has been for me to discuss architecture with these young people. And how difficult!!! And how sad as I see them not working and continually falling short of what I see so clearly in them. We recently did a hand drawing quiz, prepared by one of the full time lecturers, i.e. 1 minute to draw an internal wall with a door at scale 1 to 50. (This may sound technical but remember these students have been drawing and studying the topic since last September so it should not have been a difficult task). Only a few managed to correctly draw this in the minute given to them 😦

I’m now on my way to see the annual school exhibition. In my first year, my hand drawn sketch of a half onion was exhibited 🙂 I’m interested to see what the third years produce at the end of their degree since some of my first years will be there in two years. Hopefully this will also help me to understand the ethos of this school of architecture and current architectural education.

Much can happen in two years… not to mention thirty years…

I’ve been much more reflective about time in recent months as I approach the age of Kylie Minogue! I recently heard a radio journalist who invited two friends to live by a motto for a month, such as, live every day as if it’s your last. I was impressed by the attitude of the individual as they made the effort to contact extended relatives and even organise a simple family gathering.

The recent words of living prophets and apostles – #LDSconf – have also touched my heart. I keenly feel that we are living in the time of the parables specifically concerning the last days, like the parable of the ten virgins. These are wonderful but perilous times – we must prepare and that doesn’t happen overnight… two years?… thirty years?… a lifetime?…

You can judge for yourself 🙂

memoir – green cabbage

Dear friends

There were so many things I thought to tell you about this past week: FISH!; the cull (redundancies); buildings that look like ships; the weather (very wet); winter coat – parka v. duffle. Finally I’ve settled for a childhood memoir, prompted by the fact that we’re having savoy cabbage this evening.

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I was only sick (I mean actually vomit sick) once at school. In fact I only remember being sick twice as a child – the tale I’m going to tell now and an incident involving tinned burgers. (Imagine my horror at the nausea and vomiting accompanying all four of our beautiful children!)

So, I was about 7 or 8, in Mr Fairhall’s class – he had to be the tallest teacher ever, and one of the strictest in the school; we were addressed by surname only and never allowed to toilet during lesson time.  School dinners (lunch) included a healthy portion of green cabbage – I’ve always supposed it was cabbage! – it was green, watery and really did not look good. I’m fairly certain that I was in the habit of ducking out of the green stuff either by withdrawing my plate or discretely leaving it to the end and on my plate.  However, this lunchtime a dinner lady made certain I ate the green stuff.  Yukkk!!!

Later that afternoon, after play, sitting at my table I began to feel distinctly unwell.  Could I do it? Could I raise my hand and ask to go toiletdinnereven if I managed to ask would Mr Fairhall let me go?  I was desperately uncomfortable so asked.

You do look a little pale, Simmons. You can go.

Pale, I thought to myself, and since then. What hue had come across by brown skin?  What shade was I turning? And I headed down the corridor. I had just turned the corner, by the staff room, when I knew why I wasn’t feeling comfortable and why Mr Fairhall described my appearance as pale.

Once I was done, I sheepishly knocked on the staff room door where the school admin lady opened it, looked at the floor, then looked at me as if to say, “you could have made it another few doors to the toilets!!” All I could see was undigested green stuff.  And at home time, there remained a pile of sand, to mark the spot.  And I never ate green cabbage again, until a few years ago I began making stir fries for the family.

It’s cottage pie with savoy cabbage this evening – little bit of olive oil, yumm!!

I really don’t know how school dinner cabbage in the 70’s looked the way it did.  My theory.  I actually think it was spring greens. I think the dinner ladies told us it was cabbage. So spring greens – however cheap they are – will not land in my shopping trolley – they look too much like the green stuff.