By sheer fluke my very dear friend MK happened to phone me a few days ago, and even more amazingly, he was free to come and have breakfast with me on Friday. It was so good to see him; time with MK is more precious than I can describe, and he's considerably busier than I am most of the time. But he's just submitted his thesis and sent his kid to his parents' in Germany, so he has a rare few days of time to himself.
I have to say that if I didn't love MK I'd have to hate him. I'm not quite at the stage of hating everyone who has ever finished a PhD thesis, while I still have mine to get through, though I'm heading that way. But apart from that, this boy has a fourth high-impact, first author paper in press, relating his discovery of an entirely novel protein fold. No, seriously, I can't think of anyone more deserving of success.
Anyway, we had a lovely conversation about careers, relationships, and a bunch of other things as well. I'm amazingly lucky to have the benefit of MK's clear vision, honesty and generosity of spirit. In a way it's a pity I didn't get to see Mrs K and the most adorable boy in the world, but it was also absolutely lovely to be able to monopolize MK for once.
Then MK went to work, and I met up with doseybat and lethargic_man, and, at doseybat's suggestion, we went to the London Aquarium. This was a great choice, as it allowed plenty of conversation as well as enjoying the fish and doing the tourist thing of seeing something new. Last time I tried to introduce lethargic_man to doseybat it all went horribly wrong; he ended up meeting compilerbitch very briefly, and Bat not at all. Anyway, the fish were fun. They have somehow discovered that the rays like to be petted, so they have a tank where you can stroke and play with them. Most cool. And lethargic_man was being knowledgeable and fascinating, as ever.
We had lunch in a most amazing restaurant that doseybat has discovered, an Indian place round the corner from Angel, where they have an all-you-can eat buffet for £3! I've had a lot worse tasting Indian food too; one very cool thing about it was that as well as the standard curries, they provided lots of interesting salads. Then we didn't have much time before lethargic_man had to be home for shabbat. We spent it climbing the Monument; I felt knowledgeable for thinking of this as a fun thing to do in London. doseybat muses interestingly on the experience in her journal.
I went back with doseybat to her parents' place; the disruptions to public transport at the moment would have made it impossible for me to get from her place in Purley to lethargic_man's place in Hendon. doseybat is another person I really should spend far more time with! Her greatness of spirit sustains me, and she's also a tremendously fun companion. We had a thoroughly delightful evening chatting and catching up and being friends. It was also good to see the Bat-mother, whom I like very well, and the Bat-sister who has blossomed from a sulky teenager who mainly ignored her big sister's Weird Friends into a lovely person.
Strange spending the night in Bat's old bedroom; I have very fond memories of thinking I'd walked into an alternate dimension, the first time I saw it all full of Bat's artwork and an amazing collection of subculture papheranalia. It's only been partially cleared out; the tie-dyed tent-effect ceiling is still there, and at least some of the stuff, including a few knick-knacks contributed by me. And the fabulous ornamental cabbage mural, where my adolescent attempts at profundity are preserved, alongside all kinds of graffiti'd snippets of Bat's history dating back to 96.
Then Saturday morning I went up to lethargic_man's place for his shabbat lunch, where I met some of his friends. The journey was dreadful; sheer incompetence on the part of station staff caused a completely unecessary hour-long delay, but anyway, that's not very interesting to talk about, and I made it in the end. lethargic_man is a marvellous host; he'd cooked a really delicious meal for 10 people, which strikes me as quite an achievement. And he was relaxed and charming and didn't flap, as I would if I were hosting that many people.
We didn't have all that much time left together between the end of a long, leisurely lunch and my having to leave to catch the bus home. But we had a delightful, if truncated evening anyway. And there were continuous Diwali fireworks all evening from nightfall onwards, which was an odd experience; I don't think I've ever been in an area with such a high concentration of people celebrating Diwali before.