My host, Bill Galvin, is definitely a pacifist. He works for the organisation based in Washington DC, the Center on Conscience and War, that is responsible for setting up my six week road trip in the USA, mainly in the east, in order to present This Evil Thing at a number of colleges, religious institutions – and even the History Museum in Buffalo. Not only a pacifist, Bill is also a bona fide conscientious objector from the Vietnam War days.
What’s more, his home in Relay, near Baltimore, where I’ll be staying today and some of the time during the next 6 weeks, is maybe 200 yards from the site and remains of the first COs’ work camp in the US, set up in World War Two.
And then something else…
I devour honey by the bucketful almost (usually with lemon, great for the voice).
‘I have honey right here,’ says Bill. ‘Produced by a guy I know. He’s also a CO from the Vietnam era.
I really feel I’ve come to the right place.
Apart from the fact that the address of Bill’s home is Gun Road.
People are so friendly, when I walk along the river near the house, they say hi and how are ya? In the craft brewery Bill takes me to for lunch, the staff all know him and are keen to hear from me about my plans. And in the supermarket where I stock up on lemons (and tons of other fruit) and hunt for a suitably large spud for the scene in the play where Bert refuses to peel one, I get chatting to the lady behind me in the queue. Soon as she hears my accent she tells me how MUCH she is looking forward to the royal wedding and how she ADORES Prince Harry and so wishes she could be there.
I inform her that about 2000 ordinary folk are going to be invited ( or is it 200?), but Karen, for that is her name, doesn’t think somehow that she’ll be receiving an invite. I offer to put in a word for her should I bump into him on my return. The check out assistant has by now totalled my bill then asks if I have the store’s loyalty card. I say, no, it’s my first day in the US, but Karen behind me says, ‘Well can I let him use mine?’
The assistant says yes, of course, and so it is that on my first day’s shopping in the States, Prince Harry gets me a discount – of 17 per cent!