Infinite Jest

We got up a bit early as we had lunch at Fat Duck today. This was a major event on this trip (shit, everything is a major event on this trip). Fat Duck is a Michelin 3-star restaurant. Eating here is like getting SuperBowl tickets, but for food. The place is officially “casual” but we needed something like that. This lunch would be over four hours, so we needed to be dressy, casual, and comfortable. That’s not an easy mix.

We checked out the local stores and actually found something for each of us that was pretty close. We circled around, grabbed coffee and breakfast at Pret Manger and went back to the Apartment. Deirdre had left us early in the morning to catch her next plane, so now it was just the three of us.

Sasha skipped breakfast and kept getting ready. The group text went active again, with instructions on which train to take. Fat Duck is in Bray, which is outside of London itself. We needed to get to Paddington Station (beware of bears) and catch the train to Maidenhead. It was about a 30 minute train. We didn’t need to rush too much, but wanted to make sure we had plenty of buffer time. Once we were set, it all went smoothly. We caught a quick cab, got tickets at the station, and were on our way.

At Maidenhead, we grabbed a taxi over to Bray, and walked around a bit. It a really small village, with seven Michelin stars. Fat Duck has three, Hinds Head has one, and Waterside Inn has three. Pretty impressive. Fat Duck itself actually has no sign out front. If you don’t know where to look, it isn’t obvious.

We went in the door, and were met in a small mirrored room. The hostess greeted us, opened a mirrored panel, and we were through the looking glass. The dinner would be over 4 hours long, with sixteen courses. The theme of the dinner was a day n the cook’s childhood, with Alice in Wonderland interludes. It was completely insane. The menu was a map. It showed where the “family” was travelling. Each of the courses was fashioned around what the family was doing at that time. our starter was “Breakfast” as the day was starting. We got little cardboard cereal boxes with ceareal we added to and bowl of “milk”, and when you ate it it tasted like bacon and eggs.

The whole meal was like this. It was as much theater as it was a meal. We had mini ice cream cones that were made of crab. A crab in a tidal pond shaped dish that was made of white chocolate that dissolved when the “tide” came in. Everything was a new surprise. The meal became slightly more normal when we got to the main course, which was seared lamb seasoned with black caviar (I did say slightly). By the end of the event, we were exhausted. We were given a tour of the kitchen, and chatted with the staff. I don’t know that I would want to do something this extreme again, but it was something to behold. Truly hard to describe. We loved it.

Back in our apartment, we rested a bit after our Lunch/Dinner/Show. Some of the guys were going out drinking, but I didn’t have it in me to head out. Also, we had to take care of Larry.

I brought my grandfather’s ashes (well, some of them) with us on this trip. I had planned to visit Islay and scatter them at one of his favorite distilleries. (Larry was the original Mad Men guy, and loved his scotch.) When he was 94, we took him out to a Scotch Malt Whiskey Society tasting, and he loved it. Guys in their 80’s were walking up to him to make sure that he got to try the rare scotches without waiting in the big lines. That was a good day. But the weather got in the way so Larry got a Scotland tour instead, and now he’s with us in London. So we were going to take him to another favorite of his. Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. Larry and my Grandmother Lorraine would go to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon every year like clockwork. It was one of the things they loved, so Yulia and I were taking him over there this evening.

We walked for a bit on our street with Sasha, she was shopping around and meeting her friends again. Once she left with them, Yulia and I headed out. We caught a cab across town to the Globe. It took a bit as traffic was not the best, and because everything in London appears to be under construction currently. The driver got us to the theater, and we took a walk around. The river bank was alive with people walking around, and enjoying the view of the city from the river. It was a good spot, and we found some steps that went down to the river. I was hoping to Chat with the family via video or something, but I couldn’t make that work, so Yulia recorded me saying a few words, and I poured his ashes into the Thames.

Memorials aren’t for the dead. They’re for the living. It’s good to do something to help give closure. I sent the video out, and we finally got my mom on the phone. She was really happy that we did all this. I had sent a quote from hamlet:

…a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times…

From there we walked the riverfront a bit, and it was alive with pubs and shops. we sat down for a late bite, and had a toast to Larry. We walked across London Bridge, and enjoyed the London night.

It was good to get closure.

The World’s a Stage