I've never met Glenys before, but she recognises me. Perhaps this is because I'm the only very tall, backpack-wearing, Jesus-like figure in the station. She's glad to see me and buys me some cookies - she calls them biscuits - from Millie's (this was Jenn's suggestion) as we head out to the car, which turns out to be the size of car that clowns squeeze into at a circus (at least if one is used to over-sized American models). Inside, though, the seats are close to the floor and there's plenty of leg room.

Glenys begins to drive and I relax, still tired, but am jolted awake when a car turns directly into our lane! I hadn't even noticed traffic lanes were reversed in London; I had my right-left-right down pat! But years of driving experience don't schluff off easily and I have to resist the urge to reach out and take control of the vehicle.

Glenys and I have a supper of tea, chicken, potatoes, carrots and broccoli, and gravy in her dining room. Outside, the backyard is lit up by afternoon sunlight revealing an immaculate, enwalled lawn. Afterwards, I discover that I am no longer tired! So we drive out to the Globe Café. Not a restaurant, it turns out to be a church organised meet-up at the university. We drive down streets winding between red-brick houses, lined by ivy-covered brick walls, and over-arched by green trees. Birmingham can be a pretty city, contrary to what I've heard. At the cafe, there are sixteen or so people, who I'm told later come from Burma, Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Japan. After some tea and biscuits, we're all ushered into an adjoining room and asked to build decorated newspaper structures that support heavy weights.

Max, on our team, has an instant, and, as it comes together, ingenious plan, but we're worried, nonetheless, as five engineers behind us begin rapid assembly. Max's vision is of two crossed tubes, reinforced at the ends, and then bent to make a table, which is then itself reinforced. The brilliance, though, is that it's possible to construct the majority of it without revealing the appearance or plan of the final product.

The moment of truth arrives and our structure holds up all the weights, along with the tea cannister. But then, unexpectedly, we're asked to explain the symbolism of the structure's décor - Max throws together a hasty explanation. The engineers, it turns out, simply stack rolls on top of each other and used all their time on decorations - lovely little paper flowers and bees. Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned here…

After the rest of the symbolism explanations, which become increasingly witty as we go around, Glenys and I make our getaway, which is good because I've become very, very tired.

I'll try to post pictures of the structures here later.

Check if this is a private message just for Richard:

Christine - Monday, June 29, 2009 at 12:55:11 (PDT)
Greeks call them biscuits too, because they also learn that kind of crazy English

Mom - Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 23:13:44 (PDT)
Looking forward to the structure photos and some of cousin Glenys too.