My holiday in England started with fish and chips bought from a local shop of Lancashire. I was longed for the taste of gravy since I left England last November. Fish and chips is not a sophisticated gastronomy art. It is more like comfort food for winter. God knows that it’s wintry weather almost all year round on this island.
Holiday treat continued with free chocolate handed out in Manchester’s Arndale Mall. Christmas is coming real soon. Either that the whole year away from England made me forget that there was always a queue; or that I was so excited about free Maltersers that I cut through the queue without noticing it.
Manchester was rainy as always. But the city was nicely lit up and cramped with Christmas stalls. All pretty things you can think of are in display. Whether you are ticking off your Christmas shopping list or you are a fan of warm drinks and sweetness, you will find what you want there. I indulged myself with some hot roast pork in apple sauce. I felt good.
It is a strange sensation to be back in England. In a random mobile phone shop in Manchester, I talked with a guy who lived two streets down from my street in Fenham of Newcastle. He was nice. The total stranger who reminded me that it was home once.
It was one of many questions for me to fill in if I wanted a visa to visit the UK. The online form allowed me to add a maximum of 5 friends. In the three years I lived in the UK, I befriended a multiple of five friends – not to mention those who were not in the country anymore. Because it was impossible for me to provide enough information, I chose to put down details of a friend. In my defence, five is almost as far from the fact as one. So why bother? My boyfriend, who proofread my application, didn’t see the same logic. He insisted I put down more names & addresses; or else he would use his friends. “You met him. He is your friend, too”. If he were right, I would have had a multiple of 50 friends; therefore, never had enough patience (and time) to finish that application form. He wasn’t right, but he still successfully made me sit on my arse pulling out details of my friends. One by one: name. address, phone number, status. Coming along were their stories interwoven with mine. Our paths crossed so that we could share parts of our life; sometimes, one of the best parts. They made my time in England unforgettable. They made it mine.
When my boyfriend went back to England for a visit, he asked me if I missed anything there so that he could bring back to Hanoi for me. I listed Fox biscuits, Earl Grey tea, meringue, and mashed potato. I mentioned my friends but he failed to bring anyone back. I wished he could. I knew I had my best friend in Hanoi with me. But I was greedy. I still am being greedy for friendship.