David Bouchier

David Bouchier’s weekly essays are full of unexpected observations and whimsical opinions. Listeners will relish his entertaining, enlightening, and sometimes exasperated commentaries on the routines that carry us through the year, the surreal rituals of politics, the unsettling experience of foreign travel, and the confusions and comedies of everyday suburban life.

It was 60 years ago that I bought my first motorcycle, and it felt like a liberation. For many years after that I rode a series of unsteady and unreliable machines all over Europe, and somehow survived. In the end I bowed to family pressure and common sense and bought a car. But my last motorcycle, a splendid and powerful machine called Triumph Trophy, lingered in my mind. Sometimes I imagined that it was still lurking in the back of the garage under a tarpaulin, and that I could bring it out for one last ride. Motorcycles have that effect on some people.

Summers used to last forever. It’s a cliché, so it must be true. People of a certain age can actually remember those endless summers, which were abolished sometime in the early 1960s. Our modern summers are much shorter, and much busier. Labor Day seems to arrive almost immediately after Memorial Day, and most of us are exhausted by the time we get here.

One of our first stops when we arrive back in the United States is always the local pharmacy. We want to be prepared for anything. We have been in France, which is rich in pharmacies of a sort. There are some 22,000 of them, each one marked with an illuminated green sign, and they have a virtual monopoly on the sale of medicines, all the way down to aspirin. If you are familiar with American pharmacies, the French version looks and feels like an entirely different kind of business.

Our long vacation in Europe is coming to an end, and it has been a luxury and a treat. A luxury because, having retired from almost everything except life itself, we can sometimes afford to be away for several weeks at a time, and a treat because the only real vacation is a long one. The memories we bring back are the main thing, and it takes time to build up good memories.

As we crossed from France to England last week I was half expecting things to be different. For years I had come to think of Britain as part of Europe. Now, after the decision to leave the European Community, known as 'Brexit,' that may not be true much longer.

I don’t know quite what I was expecting on the British side – fewer French and Italian restaurants perhaps, or patriotic Union Jacks on display outside people’s houses. I was suffering from a kind of pre-emptive nostalgia, mourning for a vanished world that hasn’t vanished yet, and shows no signs of doing so.