All right, I think I am starting to accept that my vacation is over, and I may not ever get back to Great Britain, no matter how hard I close my eyes and wish it. Tomorrow? Back to regularly scheduled book programming, I promise. But there's just one last thing:*
I don't know how well you can read it, but this is what the sign says: "84 Charing Cross Road. The booksellers Marks & Co were on this site which became world renowned through the book by Helene Hanff."
This tribute is still there, sandwiched between two unremarkable shops (I think one was a restaurant; the girl inside seemed to wonder why we seemed to be taking pictures of her through the window) and just across from a Subway sandwich shop, and high up on the side of the building. Thank goodness for that; some yobs had seen fit to plaster some stickers or advertisements on the wall below it, which did not, in my opinion, fit in with the sacredness of the site. But I shut my eyes and pictured London in the 1950s, and later, when Helene herself visited the shop, and it made me very, very happy.
Anyone who's ever watched a Jane Austen adaptation with scenes of Bath might recognize the above gorgeous building as the Royal Crescent, in Bath, which is on the west coast of England, and which is perhaps the most beautiful place I've ever seen. We recognize this is not the most artful shot (my favorite is the two people napping in the middle) but our camera was dying and people trying to snap photos in a hurry can't be too artsy. If you can't tell, I am literally incandescently happy. I'm so sorry that, by all accounts, Jane herself was very unhappy while she lived in Bath, but I would guess that other family and health issues had her down, and I can understand that.
My favorite photos were the many Mr. CR and I snapped of ourselves (you know the kind; big heads in the foreground corner, tourist sites in the background) but as Mr. CR is only slightly more reclusive than J.D. Salinger, I'd best not include any of those.
*Many thanks to Lynne for her suggestion of IrfanView, the photo editing software that worked like a charm!