You TV ornithologists will remember the distinctly British Pigeon Sisters of Odd Couple fame, Cecily and Gwendolyn. C&G were based on characters from Oscar Wilde’s delightful Gilbert-and-Sullivan-esque play, The Importance of Being Earnest. The Pigeon Sisters would coo when they laughed, not unlike the two band-tailed pigeons cooing outside my window. They might be mistaken for owls so very loud are they and flapping wings and harassing each other, though maybe it’s a male and female and it’s a courting ritual. Whatever it is, it’s damn loud and here in Cambridge, at 7pm Cambridge time, I am trying to get some sleep. Until these British birds stop their owl-like hooting, I am unlikely to drift off into the healing arms of Lethe.
More’s the pity, because, by this time, I have been without sleep for more than 30 hours. So you see, gentle reader, Sinclair Lewis was right about the tedium of travel. The flight from Toronto to Heathrow was without incident and came in twenty minutes early. But then the pain sets in. Passport Control, a diabolical invention designed to sap what strength remains in you after a long flight, features those Disney World insidious snake lines. Then on to baggage claim which must have been in a seemingly abandoned warehouse somewhere in Scotland. Then the Bataan-like Death March to connect with the “underground” train from Heathrow that would take us to King’s Cross Station, there to get a train to Cambridge.
But, ironies of ironies, when I booked the rooms at Sidney Sussex College for Dennis and me back in late May or early June, I told the power-that-be, when I was asked what time we might be arriving in Cambridge, we’d be arriving about noon on July 17. We pulled into the train-station at Cambridge and de-trained at noon on the nose. Do not forsake me, oh my Darling!
We checked into our rooms at Blundell Court, spartan cells that brook no luxuriating in thick mattresses, air conditioning, fluffy towels (and lots of them), and a well-stocked liquor bar. But it’s that old college experience that Dennis and I are seeking, as old men will do when they are trying to ward off nostalgia.
Having settled ourselves into our ensuite rooms, Dennis and I headed out to get the lay of the land, if you’ll pardon the expression. We walked around for a couple of hours, had a little supper, and made our weary way back to Blundell Court and our simple but clean (well, mostly clean I suppose) rooms having survived, if only barely, the second day of our quest for Cromwell’s Skull and Wittgenstein’s brain. That quest will begin in earnest tomorrow, if the Pigeon sisters outside my window will stop giving a hoot.