Sometimes things occur by serendipity. Sometimes not. When a link on my Twitter feed announced Margaret Atwood would be reading in Bath, I couldn't believe it. I was going to the UK with a friend at the time and we could arrange our schedule (which was pretty flexible) so that we were in Bath for the reading. Of course, I did consult with Bernie and she was agreeable. Yahoo! I booked our tickets to the reading on-line from the Topping Book Store in Bath. So exciting. It would be (for me) the high point of the trip.
Bath would be our end of holiday destination and of course, Margaret would be the final event. We arrived in Bath and got settled in our hotel. The next morning, Bernie insisted on finding Ely Cathedral, the venue for the Margaret Atwood event. I couldn't understand her concern. We could find the cathedral the day of- but I humoured her. We spent most of the day in search of Ely Cathedral and no one seemed to know where it was. I should have twigged. A cathedral is a big deal. Not just every church can be a cathedral.
They have to have be headed by a Bishop. Still, I didn't worry and we saw a lot of Bath, its churches and had a nice stroll along the River Avon. Finally we checked the Bath Cathedral and a very learned pleasant man pointed out the Ely Cathedral was in Cambridge. Noooooooo! Cambridge is no hop and skip from Bath. I thought that I was doomed to miss Margaret.
When we checked our on-line receipt, we found that Margaret Atwood was reading in St. Mary's Church that evening. Here is where Bernie becames the true hero of the piece. She refused to give up and said, "We can change our tickets for tonight's reading in Bath. We just have to find the Topping Book Store." Brave words. Up and down the ancient streets we went. Finally, when we were about to give up, Bernie asked a woman who just looked like "she might have read a book sometime" where the bookstore was. We were just a couple of blocks away but it was almost six o'clock! What if the shop closed at six? Then we saw it. A car with its doors open was parked and employees seemed to be packing it. Perhaps books for the reading? We were across the street from Topping's and we could see the open door.
"Run, Linda," Bernie screamed. I sprinted (well, I tried). A car missed me narrowly and did give me the horn but I made it! The bookstore didn't actually close until 8:00. A young clerk very graciously and efficiently exchanged our tickets. We were in! Our last obstacle was to find St. Mary's Church. That wasn't so very difficult and we were among the first to queue up.
Once in the Church, we had excellent seats and waited in eager anticipation (at least I did). Bernie was likely just happy to be nearly done with the whole thing. The church filled and Margaret gave her ubiquitous, witty and entertaining reading. When she asked for questions, I stood and said, "I am from Alberta, Canada and I bring greetings from gariovich." Margaret was delighted and asked, "How do you know him?"
I was excited to reply that he was my son.
The previous summer Margaret and my son had become as she calls them T-pals. He had enticed her by sending her bits of a portrait of her his wife had painted. The portrait was used in an on-line fundraiser to support the launch of Fanado. (That's painting you see in the picture.)
When Margaret signed the book I had bought for my son, she drew him a little flying pig and wrote a personal note. Such a gracious lady. And Bernie said, "I was his grade three teacher." The perfect ending to what could have been a disaster. Thanks again, Bernie. You were right and Wiki was horribly wrong.
I've been married a long time and often write about everyday events.