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My Eastbourne and Wimbledon Odyssey : Misery Chapter Two
Last uploaded : Friday 8th Jul 2011 at 01:30
Contributed by : Carol Gould



In my previous article I recounted the bizarre experiences I had in Eastbourne on my first UK holiday in five years.

I would like now to turn to even more bizarre events during my visit as well as some unpleasant encounters in London.

No sooner had I arrived in the coastal town than I discovered that my sunglass frames had come apart. The following day I went out early in the morning to the local independent optician. They told me they would have to send my sunglasses away and that the repair could take up to a fortnight. That being unsatisfactory I went to the local chain optician who told me ‘health and safety’ regulations precluded their having a soldering iron on site. Evidently the tiny metal joint on my glasses could be soldered together but they concluded it was not something they could do. I then migrated to Boots the Opticians who offered the same appraisal. They suggested I go to another local optician near the railway station but by then I was tired.

It was nearing lunchtime so I decided to stop by Millie’s Cookies and buy some ‘dessert’ -- a cookie and coffee and to move nextdoor to a sandwich bar for a cheese and ham toastie. The Millie’s server warned me that the people nextdoor went crazy if Millie’s customers sat in the plaza but I decided that buying a sandwich would allow me to sit at one of the pretty tables so I did just that.

Frustrated with the sunglasses situation but happy to be sitting down I put the sandwich in its plate and the cup of coffee on a table in the outside plaza. Out strode an angry-looking female demanding the following, ‘Madam, you cannot sit here advertising Millie’s Cookies.’ I told her had bought the sandwich at her establishment but she insisted I put the coffee on a chair or on the floor out of sight or LEAVE. I refused to leave and handed her the plate with the sandwich and asked for a refund. She refused. I shouted at the top of my lungs at her until everyone in the shopping plaza was staring at me, but I had simply had enough of ‘helfun safety’ and now regulations about where one could have a coffee and sanny. I also reminded her that when I first came to England from the USA in the 1970s I loved the laid back-ness of the British and that one could eat a scotch egg and a beer outside a caff or pub and nobody would chase you. She retreated and I fully expected the police to arrive but I managed to wolf my sandwich, gulp my coffee and tell the Millie’s folks what had happened. Of course they reminded me they had warned me of the café’s ire.

To my continued astonishment I went to Wimbledon on July 1st and was delighted to be handed complimentary Dove products on my way in to the grounds. I put them into my carry-all only to watch, to my utter disbelief, the security person dig deeply into my bag and extract the Dove products. Is this not theft? The products were my property. I noticed hundreds of Dove goodies in a giant transparent trash bag alongside the security table and was told we were not allowed to keep them as they were ‘contraband.’ Contraband? Has Britain gone insane? Is this going to happen at the 2012 Olympics?

My late mother was very nearly given a dishonourable discharge from the US Army because of her ‘insubordination’ in loudly remonstrating with her Commanding Officer about the segregation of the troops. So I decided to stand my ground and demanded my Dove products be given back to me. What infuriated me even more than this ridiculous rule was the way scores of sheep-like Britons allowed their Dove goodies to be confiscated without so much as a word of protest. Their passivity made me sick. The diminutive security woman, whom I established was from the Far East, refused to yield so I went into shouting mode. She disappeared and came back; again, as in Eastbourne I fully expected the police to arrive and evict me before I had even seen one tennis ball tossed, but instead she told me her supervisor said I could have the products back if I checked them and retrieved them at the end of the day. The walk to the ‘luggage check’ hut was a trek that lost me forty minutes of match enjoyment but I am, in August, still enjoying my Dove bubble bath and feel I scored some sort of small victory against creeping Orwellian fascism in once-charming Britain.

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