July 7th, 2005


London Calling

The London branch of my family is unhurt after this morning's horrors. That's good news.

Tomorrow hopefully I will hear good news of my NYC cousin Eliot and his wife & daughter, who were due to visit London tomorrow. Eliot was in NYC on 9/11, and heroically went into Manhattan to collect his young daughter from school, and walked with throngs of people over the Brooklyn Bridge and home. I'm pretty sure his wife worked in another part of Manhattan, close to the World Trade Center, and she made it out via another route. To have them arrive in London just in time for another bombing...

I woke up at 4 am for no apparent reason, could not get to sleep, turned on the TV (it was on MSNBC) and saw Tony Blair saying he was ditching the G8 summit and returning to London. I thought maybe the G8 leaders had tromped on his global warming or aid to Africa initiatives, so I switched to CNN to hear the rest of the story. I was shocked and saddened and a little bit angry to find out there had been a coordinated series of bombings at tube stations and one double-decker bus.

From the time I was old enough to write, my most loyal pen pal has been my cousin Brian's neighbor, the Little Red-Haired Girl, Viv. Brian is a year+ older than me, he wrote to my big sister Briana, also about a year older. Viv and I still email each other regularly.

Short story long, my mother's maternal grandfather was a genius of a tailor. He managed to make enough money to, one by one, move his dozen or so children from Russia to London. Somewhere in there he and his wife moved to London, where he became a member of the firm which made clothing for the royal family. This earned him enough money for him to set up shop in New York City, and for the rest of his life he divided his time between London and NYC. And he brought to NYC those children who wanted to go. My grandmother was one of them. Brian's grandparents stayed in London, operating something in the textile manufacturing business, I think. Brian went on to be a lecturer at King's College, and a town councilman in a London suburb. And he married Viv, who now teaches science at grade school level.

The first time I met Brian in person was in 1977, on my way back from Israel and Thailand. He and his younger brother Howard took me to Charring Cross Station to the "Scottish Restaurant". It turned out to be a MacDonald's. I understand that now there's a Burger King in its place. In 1993, when I was en route to Israel, I had an 8-hour layover in London, and Brian & Viv and their children Mike & Suzi took me to their home in Buck's End, where we spent hours around the piano singing Broadway show tunes. Both children are brilliant singers, and Suzi took a degree in broadcast entertainment and now runs a studio in Brighton which trains child actors and singers for TV work. She uses her stage name, Shana (short for her Hebrew name Shoshana) and her mother's maiden name, and here is her studio's web site at this link.

Brian's 50th birthday adventure in October, 2000 was a trip to the USA, where he spent time staying with my younger sister & her family in Baltimore, and I flew out for a couple of days, touring through Maryland & the Virginias, visiting Ft. McHenry and driving from Baltimore to Harper's Ferry with Brian & Viv. Photos are here: at this link

Mike is getting married next month, and I would like to go but medical appointments have made that impossible. Suzi Shoshana Shana is scheduled to marry her beau a year later, or so.

Anyhow, it's a close relationship, considering how far away we are, and how rarely we get to see each other. So the recent events in London hit me harder than Madrid.
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