Tuesday, April 28, 1998

by Jonah

A bus just drove by this stop as I was walking out the door. It appeared to go the opposite direction a few minutes later, or maybe that was a different one altogether. Anyway, I hope that means another will be coming along soon. I shut the door behind me, so I can’t go back in and call for info. I do know that the next direct coach to York doesn’t leave until this evening, so I’m in no hurry yet. 86 Mosely Common Road is inhabited by a couple of blokes. Seamus, a friend of James & Alysia, and another guy. They warmly welcomed this stranger and offered me a bed, shower, and breakfast. Incredible.

James and I arrived here late last night after driving from Leamington Spa to Gloucester with Al, and listening to Primus, then picking up a car there, and after having coffee and sandwiches at some people’s house, riding in a little old blue car the couple hours to Manchester. We listened to “the radio of delights,” as James said Mel calls it, singing along to Virgin Radio on an AM station that disappeared under every bridge. It didn’t matter, if I liked a song, I heard it in my head with full bass complete with subwoofer.

James got a chick to come pick us up yesterday morning and take us to Warwick , where he works. I headed for the town centre and then followed the signs pointing toward Warwick Castle. It didn’t open until 10, and it was barely 9. So I looked around town, bought a carton of orange juice at a small supermarket, and sat on a bench in the sun, watching people.

Finally, 10 o’clock approached, and I walked back to the castle entrance, waiting with other early tourists to purchase my ticket. These included three guys from the U.S., who stood in line ahead of me. Fortunately, I had a voucher attached to a brochure I picked up at Longleate, so I got a better discount (and a free guidebook) than I would have with merely a student discount.

Warwick bills itself as the finest Medieval castle in England, and indeed, it is impressive. The Tussauds Group have taken it over, so in parts of it are fine wax figures portraying different aspects of life at different times. The castle itself shows separate areas of development. There’s the Norman wall atop the high motte, then the later gate with its portcullis and murder holes. Several towers enforce their way along the wall reaching high above the River Avon flowing by calmly below. James said during the Eater floods, the reason why Warwick didn’t flood was because of the castle moat.

Warwick has been closely involved in the politics of England. During the War of the Roses, the earl there was called “the Kingmaker” because of his immense influence. later, it was the Earl of Warwick who proclaimed his daughter-in-law Lady Jane Grey queen for nine days before Bloody Mary seized the throne. In the state rooms, the furnishings remain late Victorian, when the Prince of Wales visited the castle’s baroness so often he had his own bedroom and even the queen and her consort came for lunch.

There was also the armoury and the dungeon. I didn’t think I’ve ever been in a real dungeon before. It was a dank place with a few carvings on the walls.

There were quite a few carvings on the walls that remained of Kenilworth castle as well, but they were the result of years–no, centuries of graffiti. Some of the names and dates from the 17 and 1800’s were beautifully carved. they just don’t make them like they used to. I explored the ruins for Kenilworth with Melissa as Graham and James looked for cars. Two girls exploring a castle, it was much fun. Unlike its neighbor, Warwick, Kenilworth didn’t survive the Civil War. The sun was shining, and it was beautiful, but I didn’t have my camera with me. We cantered back on imaginary horseback to the knights awaiting us in the car park.

Another knight was looking at Warwick dungeon with me “Are you American?” he asked. I nodded. It was one of the three American guys at the ticket window. He reminded me of Wedgie. “You look American with your baseball cap…kinda gives it away.”

“Yeah,” I answered. “They don’t place baseball here.”

Later after I had exhausted the castle’s attractions, I followed the ticket taker’s directions to a bus stop, but the next one didn’t go to Stratford-upon-Avon until that evening. So I started following signs to the train station instead, only I didn’t know how far away it would be. As I walked, someone said, “What are you doing here?” It was my dungeon American, or Ramil, as he introduced himself, along with his friends Rich and Eric. I led them to the kebab place I’d just passed and we ordered. I got a doner on a bun, which I had no idea what it was, but it was only £1.70. The Indian lady behind the counter asked Eric something, and Ramil fought to control his laughter because he had no idea what she said.

“She asked if he wanted salad and chili on his,” I informed him. “Salad is green stuff and chili is some sort of sauce. I think.” Since I’ve been here five weeks, that makes me the expert on everything. It was fun telling horror stories about crossing streets and driving on the wrong side of the road. Funny how good it is to hear American voices. We huddled in the kebab joint, trying to figure the least messiest method of eating whatever it was we were eating, stupid Americans who hadn’t learned the meaning of “take away” food.

They offered me a ride to Scotland and I accepted as far as the train station, which happened to be all of a few yards away. “Give us a call sometime,” said Remil. His buddies laughed at him–as if they had a phone.

I took the train to Stratford-upon-Avon, paid way too much to see Shakespeare’s birthplace (“I’m a student,” I said to the man at the ticket counter. “So?” he answered, “You’ll pay five pounds, just like everybody else.”), and then caught one back to Leamington Spa.

Leave a Reply