On Thursday we had arranged to meet Erika who had been the art director on our first two Direct English shoots in Boston 20 years ago. Daisy and her husband Jerry and Jack Foley were also able to join us so a grand reunion was held in the excellent Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square. Before heading there though Dee and I spent a while and many dollars in Barnes and Noble equipping ourselves with maps and city guides for California. I had ventured one day in June into the wonderful Stanford’s map shop in Covent Garden but had been so confused by all that was on offer I walked out maples and resolved to buy them in Boston – better for baggage allowances anyway.
We had a brilliant lunch with memories shared and news and career and domestic developments caught up with. Because of the change of day our firework party was going to be a little smaller than planned which was probably as well since we had been told by the apartment owner that numbers were restricted and only Dee and I had our names on the list. However I phoned the building management company and persuaded them that several more names could be added to the list since access to the roof deck was to be strictly controlled by security guards. Daisy would be able to join us later with her son Zeke and his friend Elliott, masquerading as Zeke’s brother for the purposes of roof access.
After lunch Dee and I went to do some food shopping so that we could offer our guests some refreshments before the firework show scheduled for 10:35. Walking down Boylston Street we confidently expected to fine the Star Market we had used so often in the past. Dee rolls her eyes every time I exclaim “There was never a roundabout there before” or “where’s that nice restaurant gone” but I think even she was taken aback by the replacement of our trusted food source by a high end residential block and a Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The bell hop at said hotel advised us that it had gone five or six years ago but there was a Shaw’s up around the corner. Oh dear! Shopping in American supermarkets hasn’t got any easier. Multiple locations for the same products, baffling displays, tempting special offers – no we don’t want 4 for the price of 2 we’re only here for a few days. However we did eventually emerge laden with far too much produce. Well we do have a reputation for over-catering to preserve!
Back at the apartment we prepared our repast only to find that Daisy had fed the boys before coming out but she had previously warned us that if we provided smoked salmon it would soon disappear into Zeke. Temptation later proved too much for him and smoked salmon was indeed consumed. Language moves on all the time of course and with a passing, professional interest in the subject, one tries to keep abreast. However when opening the door to our guests I was taken aback to be told that our building was “really sick”. Now I know about sick building syndrome but didn’t really think it applied to the elegant brownstone, formerly the Victoria Hotel, we were dwelling in. Seeing my blank expression Zeke and his friend Elliott enlightened me: “Oh ‘sick’ is what, back in your day, you would probably have called ‘cool’. It’s great, it’s wicked; we love it!” Some neologisms aren’t really that helpful are they?
Equally sick was the roof deck which elicited the other taboo adjective of this trip: “awesome”. This superlative has been applied by wait staff etc in response to such Herculean tasks as managing to order breakfast that morning in the excellent Trident Bookshop and Café, which we stumbled upon by chance but then discovered later was rated by the magazine Improper Bostonian – free from those street-side newspaper dispensers – “best spots for breakfast”.
How they liked the fireworks we don’t really know as they typically went off to the other end of the deck away from us adults. We got to the roof earlier than planned and just as well since because the met radar showed a storm moving in from the west, the Boston Pops Concert which is the centrepiece of the celebrations and precedes the firework show had the customary rendition of the 1812 overture with cannon and mortar effects … cut from the programme so the display wouldn’t end up a series of very expensive damp squibs. The flexibility of the organiser was impressive and I’m not sure a similar occasion in the UK would have been managed so well. To bring the whole thing forward by a day with street closures and massive security required and then to change the schedule at the last minute was pretty impressive. As were the fireworks. Detonated from a barge in the middle of the Charles River they gave us a half hour display of ever-changing patterns, colours and sounds. They were so good that Dee has been stimulated to consider a new career as a firework display designer when she returns to the UK. Seconds after the last burst the heavens opened and Arthur’s leading edge drenched Massachusetts. Daisy and the boys got a little damp on the way to the T station but by the time they got home the storm had blown out into the Atlantic.
The least said about Friday the better. The weather alternated between drizzle and torrential throughout the day. We barely ventured out and were glad that our over-catering provided with sustenance without leaving the apartment. By now I had some hundreds of pictures to edit and the rest of the trip to prepare so it was actually a relief in a way that we were penned in.
On Saturday Erika wanted to see us on last time before she headed off to Cape Cod to join her mother so we went to the lovely Metropolis in the South End for brunch. Another great time of reminiscing, gossiping and sharing thoughts about the state of the film business, Boston, America and the world.
Jack had invited us to go sailing on his 33 footer which he moors in Salem Harbour. So armed with our trusty Charlie cards we caught the T to a stop called Wonderland passing Boston’s horse and greyhound racing tracks on the way. Jack picked us up and drove us to Salem where a launch took us out to the boat. We were able to drop in to see his son Zachary who was nine when we last saw him. He’s now twenty and running a surf shop and café in Swampscott. He’s a charming young man who’s going back to college in the autumn after a year out surfing and working to support his studies. It was great to catch up with him.
The post-storm winds were rather fierce and so no actual sailing occurred but we sat and drank beer, ate chips and salsa and chicken and chewed the fat with Jack and his friend and would-have-been crew David. David is an IT guru with a serious interest in photography and had just been on an iceberg safari in Newfoundland. The pictures were stunning.
We did go up on deck to enjoy a great Salem sunset and then repaired home for supper and sleep after a day on the water.