Occasionally, and for no good reason at all, a song keeps rattling around in my head. At the moment it is one about being misunderstood. “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” was recorded by The Animals in 1964. This I learned through the wonders of Google.
But am I misunderstood? I fear that I am understood and I am not that comfortable with it. Sometimes it seems that people can see inside my head. Not everyone of course, but at least two or three people. A certain individual was providing London theatre reviews and said this in an email.
He: The Telegraph reviews can be accessed on line, I think , and the Guardian though you have to be able to ignore their tugging at your heart strings because they are poor journalists and they need your cash to support 3 old ladies and a dog with one leg. But I know that you have a carapace as hard as necessary so you should be ok.
Me: Now that is so funny but I do not know the meaning of carapace.
Of course I looked up the meaning of carapace. It is the perfect word; a skill, idea, or quality that is developed and has reached a high level because someone has worked on it, practised it, or thought about it a great deal. It can be a literary phrase meaning an attitude someone has developed as a protection against other people. Now that is me – I do have an attitude that has been developed as protection against people and it is as hard as necessary. Three old ladies and a dog with one leg does not pull on my heart strings. As a matter of fact I wrote back.
Me: How does the dog get about? I guess the old broads carry it around with them all of the time.
He: No response as yet.
But does that guy understand me?!?! Has he got me down to a T.? Yes, and it is frightening as I thought I was hiding my carapace. I have been found out. My favorite book of the moment Soul Friends by Stephen Cope speaks of recognition. “Recognition! This is the first characteristic of a mirroring relationship. The recognition can be immediate. (Love at first sight is, of course, a kind of recognition,) Or this recognition can grow slowly over the months and years. Recognition. For some mysterious reason, you see deeply into a person. You know them. You understand them. Like you accidentally get turned get turned on to the very same channel on the shortwave radio, a channel almost no one else can receive. But you receive it full out: I see you! Wow!” (pg.180) Cope goes on to to talk about his experience of being seen by friend John, “How scary it felt to be seen. I remember how tight my belly was in those early encounters in the study with John. how anxious I felt to impress him, to rise to him and meet him on his own ground.” (pg. 181)
It was rather comforting to read this this feeling of discomfort in being seen is somewhat universal. I am not weird after all. Well, many would beg to differ.
I did not experience this feeling of recognition with Michael Palin but I did speak to him and have just learned that he has written a new book, written a book, Erebus. It tells the story of two ships that sunk in the Northwest Passage. The sunken ships were found, the Erebus in 2014, the Terror two summers later. Tom Speaks, in his October 27, 2018 Vancouver Sun review writes“ Twin questions remain unanswered. Who were these men? And what drove them north? Many new answers come now from Palin, who is the former president of the Royal Geographic Society and, more importantly, a natural storyteller.”
So I met this famous storyteller. My recent Facebook exploration revealed an entry made in October of 2016. There is a picture of Michael Palin taken in the Rex Whistler Restaurant. I was there, he was there. I went bravely went over to his table and told him that I had been a fan for hundreds of years, even though I was 73. He smiled, even laughed, and said he was 73. Then I went and talked to Henry Jacobsen, congratulating him on his lecture at the British Library. He thanked me, saying he was sitting with his publishers and now he would get a handsome royalty. I suggested he share it with me. The Rex Whistler is a posh British restaurant located in the Tate Britain. Would that happen in Vancouver. Absolutely not, go and talk to some one at another table and some staff member pries you away from the table, even if the recipient says that WANT to talk to you. It doe snot happen in London, nor in Edmonton, nor in San Francisco. What is it about this city? Now it is not every restaurant that indulges in such rudeness – but many. But it is not problem, I simply do not go to that restaurant and will, at some point, list the places that are discourteous. Unlike restaurant food, revenge is a dish best served cold.
There are wonderful exceptions to the rule. Dunn’s and Copper Kitchen actually encourage friendliness and conviviality. As well as a new restaurant discovered last evening Robba da Matti, in Yaletown. It is a longer story to be told in a subsequent blog but I got stood up. I had a date with two men and neither of them showed up. But I had a stupendous time and the picture is of YTTB, my handsome waiter. There is an Instagram video post with me complaining. There are already 78 views.