New Readers Start Here


goaSitting on a beach in Goa, India, at the beginning of 2016, I began to think about the next 20 years of my life. I needed more adventure. Back home a week later,  I left my job and my home in the US capital, Washington DC, and took a year out in London, a city I last lived in nearly 20 years ago. I have a UK passport, family and friends. So far, so privileged and markedly unadventurous. But I walked away from a secure job and embarked on a cross- cultural employment expedition. I found work in the clerk’s room of a Chancery barristers’ chambers in the City, where I did things I don’t know how to do, usually badly. The barristers’ realm is arcane, erudite, exclusive and comfortably shabby. The barristers themselves are patrician, sometimes peremptory,  but usually charming. The clerks  are crude, sharp, and match street smarts with detailed knowledge of legal process and Chambers’ protocol. They are, for the most chamberspart, fit young men, toned by wheeling towering piles of legal papers to court through London lanes called Pudding and Threadneedle and Poultry. They know their way about and were surprisingly kind to a middle aged woman unexpectedly in their midst. But I was lost in Lincoln’s Inn and bruised. I scraped my sides and sustained a couple of dents. This is how adventure works. I lived in a damp basement in Shepherd’s Bush. I ate Chinese food with the sixth generation descendant of the founder of the Saudi Wahhabi religious movement and discussed his family tree as we drank some very fine French wine.  I met a young woman charged with developing wellness tourism for  millions mosqueof pilgrims visiting Mecca –can the faithful enjoy a hamman or two after they complete the hajj?  I found a Bulgarian handyman, managed to keep a Pro-Brexit friend, and secured a job with a conservation charity through a chance encounter with a stranger on the St Ives train. I nursed an old friend and attended her funeral.  I got accepted as a US Peace Corps volunteer and will go to Armenia for two years in March 2017. At all times I have tried to channel Dame Judi Dench as she looked in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: alert, curious, open and serene. I do not always manage serene. Where possible, I wear her flowing garb, but I have given up anything that needs to be ironed or dry cleaned. I am on the quest for the rest of my life. I am fifty-six and having fun. Please join me.