Parade’s End

Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford

I made a list of things I need to buy before taking off. My calender tells me that one week from now I will be in Moscow, and I now realize how time is running very fast.

On my to buy list were (among other things) Lonely Planet’s Trans-Siberian Railway and a haircut. And a book called Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford. Let’s leave the reason why I wanted this particular book in the middle, I just want to take it with me on that long train ride.

Now I realize I am a foreigner and my English is not Oxfords. I realized that even more in New York where people didn’t understand me at all, and where they were plain rude to me. Which makes me wonder why I want to go back to New York in the first place. Oh. Yes. I remember now. Right. Don’t get distracted now, you can do it, you can write a post where you don’t mention his name. Go on. Back to the bookshop, which was Foyles on Charing Cross Road by the way. I asked the bookshop assistant for Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford. And yes, foreigner, but I can say Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford and most of my colleagues will understand what I say when I do.
Not this British bookshop lady.

“What?” was what she said.
“Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford” I repeated even more articulate.
“How do you spell that?”
“Parade’s End?” I was amazed.
“Well, P-a-r-a-d-e-s E-n-d”
“Is that Parade’s with an S?”
“Yes, Parade’s”
“And who is the writer?”
“Ford Madox Ford”
“Is that spelled F-O-R-D?”
I was checking that I was indeed on planet Earth, I was, and I was biting my tongue now to not start screaming.
“Yes F-O-R-D. Ford” I managed to get out.
“And the rest?”
“Madox Ford”
“How do you spell that?”
“M-A-D-O-X F-O-R-D” I spelled.
“Does he have two times Ford in his name?”
I just looked at her now, I was getting desperate and there was a man behind me waiting, and he certainly wasn’t amused.
“Oh right. I found it” she said.
“Good” was what I managed to produce, which was rather remarkable for the state I was in. But she hit back.
“It’s out of stock”

My brain exploded after this. I decided to try and find out if I really had a serious problem with my English pronunciation, I went to Waterstones. I went off the beaten track, crossed Soho through streets I hadn’t been before, I now know where the Red Light district is, and in the middle of this I found a hairdresser who gave me an excellent haircut for the price of – can you believe this, this is in the heart of London – 5 pounds. That made me feel better. Someone fiddling with my hair always calms me down.

I stepped out with a repaired head, found out that I was very close to my Cafe, which I gladly entered for, Waterstones could wait, a soup, bread and a coke with a pink straw and a sit at The Table. There was classic music in the background and behind me two women of my age were discussing the brilliance of Hot Fuzz, which put a smile on my face. I wrote 8 pages full in my notebook while sitting there enjoying the place. After that I went to the cinema for the fantastic Science of Sleep (more about that later) and after that I was ready for Waterstones. I took a deep breath, stepped to the counter, and asked the girl.
“Parade’s End by F…” I didn’t even have to finish my sentence.
“Oh yes we have several versions of that book, come along, I’ll show you where they are.”

I found my book, I refound a bit of my lost language confidence, I crossed 3 things of my list.
7 nights before take off.

6 thoughts to “Parade’s End”

  1. Some British people can be rude, too. It’s not very often, but it happens. Glad the other girl (and bookshop for that matter) could help you.

  2. See, the thing at Foyles wasn’t you, it was ignorant shop staff who had never heard of Mr Ford. Nice to hear that Waterstones are still doing the bizz.

  3. While wandering the Forbidden City, curious about your upcoming visit, using Google Earth (no passport required) I came upon these names:
    Gate of Heavenly Purity Hall of Everlasting Spring
    Hall of Preserving Harmony Hall of Assisting Earth
    Gate of Flourishing Fortune Hall of Supreme Ultimate
    Gate of Solar Perfection Hall of All-Encompassing Universe
    Hall of Great Benevolence Hall of Kindness and Tranquility
    Gate of Lunar Glory Hall of Imperial Zenith
    Gate of Intense Happiness Hall of Union and Peace
    Aren’t those lovely?
    While in the UK, I was aware of buildings, streets, and parks mostly being named for royalty, famous military men and events, famous writers. Simply going to the store for shampoo becomes a history lesson and is a testament to the pride in that history.
    I live in Florida. What immediately came to mind was a long-ago trip to Disney World. So as not to forget the location of our car in the emormous parking lot, we were advised to remember that we were parked in the “Goofy” section.
    It is indeed “A Small World”, but our differences are vast and beautiful. We’re all looking forward to taking part in your expansive trip, Ingrid!

  4. (Excuse me for omitting commas from my post above.)
    Just a thought – There is the universal sensation that roller skating leaves with us – that buzz in our feet and the temptation to take long strides. A boat trip leaves us trying to normalize our gait as we try to shake off our sea legs. I suppose an hour on a trapoline makes us extraordinarily conscious of gravity!
    Will your six days ‘training’ leave you with similar after-effects? The wobble-jostle of the train car, the rhythmic clackey-clack like a virtual metronome, the rush at the window as your train-world flashes through the outside world?

  5. The names for in the Forbidden City are really beautiful, and I am very curious. The Gate to Intense Happiness isn’t there at the moment though, they moved it to the Music Box theatre in New York. It will stay there until the 11th of March, then they will bring it back to Beijing.

    London has some strange street names as well, I have seen Little Brittain, Gunpowder Square, Air Street and Turnagain Lane just to name a few. I am sure there are more.

    And the train ride, I hope it has after effects. I hope that the forced lack of internet, mobile phones, TV, and cinema in combination with the wobbling movement of the train will shake my brains up. And that when I step out of the train in Beijing, some things will be a bit clearer. I also hope to have written a treatment for either a new short or the haunting feature film that wants to get out. But if all of that is going to happen, I have no idea.

    I regret that I have so little time in Beijing, but if it is a fantastic place (which I think it is) I have to get back there some other time.

  6. Yes, indeed, one’s perspective of the world after a few days without Internet certainly changes somehow and the pace of life goes back to a more normal – slower – pace (not that the effects aren’t quickly reversible again, but that’s another matter).

    … and I couldn’t help but laughing out loud regarding the shifting location of the Gates of Intense Happiness ;D

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