Thirty-six years ago I made my first visit to England, Shakespeare's scepter isle. I'd longed since childhood to stroll the same London streets as the Bard of Avon, Dr. Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens. I written about my impressions of London and southern England for Uncle Jam, an arts magazine then based in Long Beach, CA. I'd titled it "Posies, Pubs and Poets." I recall recounting how I'd encountered Johnson's ghost in his writing room in his London home, and how I'd visited the Bristol pub where Daniel Defoe encountered Alexander Selkirk, the Scottish castaway who gave him his idea for Robinson Crusoe. I'll be writing about this trip, as well, for the same magazine, still published by Phil Yeh.
|Sue Burchfiel, Amazing Grays instructor|
I'd gone in 1980 in late February, the same time of the year as I'm heading there next week for what will be my 15th or 20th trip...I've lost count. This morning, I got a sneak preview of my upcoming visit to the country that I'm still so enamored with, thanks to a simulation conducted by Sue Burchfiel. Sue, who calls us The Amazing Grays, provides fitness classes here at my H-W Senior Living apartment complex.
Possessed with boundless energy and creativity, Sue delights in fashioning narratives to keep our low impact aerobic classes intriguing. There's not ever any boring routines. Sue invents imaginary adventures and selects songs to provide us with an appropriate musical backdrop to bounce and gyrate to.
For instance, last October we all became "Ghostbusters", doing "The Monster Mash," and chorusing, "We ain't afraid of no ghosts." When we'd tired of the December gloom and holiday hustle bustle, Sue decided we needed a timeout in Hawaii, so off we headed for the islands. Once there, we mimicked surfers, hula dancers and fishermen, before bidding a concluding "aloha." Recently one of the tenants in this complex got married...and we all paced through her wedding day, from the moment the bride awoke to prepare for her big moment, to heading for the courthouse, to struggling to catch the bridal bouquet to doing the chicken dance at her reception
This morning, it was my trip to England that we danced our way through. We started out showering, phoning Uber, and driving to the airport...imitating the Uber driver putting on the brakes on the crowded freeway. Yes, we were "Leaving on a Jet Plane." Sue detoured us through New York City, where we exercised to Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" as we glimpsed the Statue of Liberty and rode in a horse-drawn carriage in Central Park. When we finally in London we were met with Beatles tunes, and decided to take a side trip to "Winchester Cathedral." (That was a seldom-heard-these-days hit by the New Vaudeville Band.) We finally made it to our cottage on the Isle of Wight, one of my actual destinations this trip, to "When I'm 64."
|Aldwych Theate, now playing "Beautiful."|
Throughout the routine, Sue kept reminding us of how much we loved the beauty of England, the art, the music, the theater, the whole English experience. She captured the love and enthusiasm, the delight that I carry for the country.
We'll be recapping the simulated adventure later this week, since Sue alternates our cardio and yoga classes. And then next Tuesday, I take off for real, via a shuttle bus, for LAX. Once again I'll enjoy my posies, pubs and poets. I hope to get enough walking in to offset the temporary vacation from my fitness classes. While I'm gone I'll be missing Sue and my fellow Amazing Grays.