Don't just suggest it.........................DO IT!
Tony Oliver ~ A visitor from the UK to the USA ~ Dickie Valentine

It was a much anticipated visit by my great friend and old band colleague (CinC Nav Home Command) Tony Oliver and I'm proud and graciously enthused to say that he made the trip across the 'pond' in luxury both ways.

For many weeks I had listed Tony on one of our London to USA hub flights but it was only at the last minute that I chose for him to attempt the trip to Washington, as we had previously arranged to have him fly to Chicago where we also have a mutual friend who works and lives in the vicinity. Sadly, that was not to be but it was a good move for us to change tack' and try for Washington.

Using our mobile phones, we continued to correspond (by the 'whatsapp' text service) literally up until the last minute before the main cabin door closed on his aircraft, a Boeing 777-200 and firmly ensconced in his seat (1C) it was hard to reconcile just how lucky he had found himself to be in that class of service, considering that the remainder of both First and Business were full! Not a spare seat in the house.

Tony made the transition from the inbound to Washington to the outbound to Albany NY in ample time with no delay and in actual of fact arrived in ALB (NY) early evening that day. You can only imagine the looks on our faces and the sheer joy of meeting up on my turf after his journey's beginning mid morning UK time that day. There are 5 hours that separate the Eastern USA with UK. You can imagine that Tony's body clock was actually at 11pm upon arrival but in fact local time was 6pm. I know that he got some sleep en-route from the UK after enjoying a dinner shortly after his departure from Heathrow.

Typically (as you can only imagine) we sought to get a welcome drink and catch up with his trip and other matters that we discussed avidly having visited several watering holes nearby the arrival airport. Never finding anything to our liking as far as venue was concerned, we non the less enjoyed ample refreshment before deciding that it was time to get our heads down and be refreshed for what ever the next two days were going to turn out to be. I can assure you that it was full of incident, interest and coincidence throughout and the weekend proved to be one for the memory and I'm positive that speaking for both of us, it was one of the most exciting and thought provoking meetings we have ever encountered.

Saturday morning and after a little breakfast we made off to do a little shopping (golf shirts for Tony) and eventually met up with friends from my work place (UNITED AIRLINES) whereupon we made our way north to the 'Rusty Nail' (pub), a favorite watering hole of my friends who are all golfers and frequent the establishment on a fair - way - ly regular basis (lol).

Gary, Tony, Kathy, SteveAs you can see, we are all having a terrible time with laughter and cajoling each other as complex cousins from all corners of the world. The mixture of our inheritance and cultural backgrounds is refreshing to contemplate. We all spent several hours in each others company finding it very hard to eventually go our separate ways.

Tony and I had gotten a ride (lift) with Gary and Kathy so we did not have to drive after a few drinks and on the pretence that we would get a cab (taxi) back to our digs. What happened next is part of the reason how and why the remainder of the weekend became all the more interesting if not intriguing.

Across the bar area there was another fellow countryman (Dave) who we were having a little interaction with and jocularly enquiring as to whether he was from the north or the south. He said "south" and Tony and I playfully ridiculed him for his misfortune. However, we were soon to find out that there was more to him that truly met the eye. Partly reconciled although be hailing from Cambridge (UK) but supporting Liverpool as a football team. Dickie and TonyYou can imagine that Tony and he were sucking up all the conversation and our new found friend was gracious enough to save us a chunk of money by giving us a ride back to Albany. It was Dave who set our Sunday to be the last full day of Tony's visit and to become as yet more and more interesting. We were recommended to get to the Bier Garten by 10 o' clock for the kick off between Liverpool and Swansea ~ live on TV from our mother country.

For those of you who aspire to the national game, Liverpool gave up-coming Swansea a trouncing and after the game we made a short walk in a challenging stiff breeze (more like the arctic) toward another recommended oasis called 'The Olde' English Pub' on Broadway. Original and novel eh! You can be sure that it was and is one of the most pleasurable places in Albany to find yourself with a plethora of authentic English ales, single malts and a simple but nicely cooked menu selection. To enhance the lovely ambiance of our time there, my daughter Charlotte and her friend called in on their way to work for that evening.Dickie, Charlotte, Tony Tony had visited with us over 10 years ago so this little reunion was poignant if not for the immense change that taken place between his meeting with her when she was only 10 years old and now as she is 24. We took photo's to record our joyous meeting before the two had to leave and it soon became time for Tony and I to call it a night and get a cab back to our resting place.

The following morning we went out to a diner (yes....a diner) for a lovely cooked breakfast so as to get Tony well fed before a long day that was before him and the trepidation of waiting for a seat at the airport. Myself knowing that it was going to be a tough call, we were pleasantly surprised when he was called up to the podium for his seat assignment and I was then confident that as long as he got to Washington, he was going to get a seat no matter what on the international flight back to Heathrow. As he left the gate, I made a phone call to Deal to let his family know that he was on his way.

To close this epic weekend's story, I can only record my joy and my gratitude not just because you visited me Tony, but that you also got a comfortable class of service on your return flight. We deserve a little luck now and then in this life. I can say that this goes down in my life's scrap book as one of the most memorable times shared with a great friend.

Thank you for visiting and we'll see each other I do hope at our coming reunion with the rest of our ex RMB family.


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