Sunset over Edinburgh, Scotland
The English language is like London: proudly barbaric yet deeply civilised, too, common yet royal, vulgar yet processional, sacred yet profane. Each sentence we produce, whether we know it or not, is a mongrel mouthful of Chaucerian, Shakespearean, Miltonic, Johnsonian, Dickensian and American. Military, naval, legal, corporate, criminal, jazz, rap and ghetto discourses are mingled at every turn. The French language, like Paris, has attempted, through its Academy, to retain its purity, to fight the advancing tides of Franglais and international prefabrication. English, by comparison, is a shameless whore.
― Stephen Fry, The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within
“Am I here? Is this real?”
I realize I haven’t posted in a while, and I apologize for that. You see, I find it hard to post certain things on this blog because this trip isn’t just about seeing London - it’s about experiencing history, culture and the world of stories I’ve read about since I was little. So much of everything here has personal meaning to me. It’s hard to convey emotions experienced through a blog when emotions are so personal. It’s especially hard to post emotions on the Internet - if only someone would tell 14-year-olds that!
So I’ll save the emotions for my personal journal in the effort to not sound sappy, and do my best to keep this blog informative and enjoyable to those who read it.
There are many things that are different about Great Britain. There’s the obvious variance in language, roadways and dental hygienics (which really isn’t as awful as the stereotypes assure us!) along with several, much smaller, aspects.
1) Everything is smaller here. Cars, bathrooms, living quarters, houses, buildings, etc. There are no soccer mini-vans, Suburbans, or skyscrapers taller than your neck can twist. Instead there are Fiats, Coopers and Smart Cars - even the Nissan Leaf.
2) Plumbing. Why have one faucet with a hot and cold knob when you can have two faucet - one freezing cold, the other scalding hot? The Brits really didn’t think this one through…
3) Credit Cards. Their cards have chips and pins. Our cards have swipes. Which is better? Who knows…
4) Dogs. In the United States we pride ourselves upon acquiring a certain breed of dog. Then there’s mixes which lead to embarrassing conversations concerning your dog…”Yes, it’s a Cockipoo”, etc. etc. etc. In GB I’ve noticed that the dogs all look like mutts. They are medium sized, loyal and occasionally scruffy looking.
5) Air Conditioning. As a Texan I cannot fathom living in a world without AC. Yet in London it rains so much and it is so cool (50F!!!) that they just prop the door or window open. This leads to…
6) Bugs. No mosquitoes, no flies, no moths, no problems.
7) Clothing. Everyone, even young/yip/stylish women, wear hosiery. No bare legs. Wearing shorts - black hose underneath. This is my kind of town! Even though it’s in the 50-60s people wear quilted jackets and scarves. It’s how you can tell who’s a native and who’s a tourist…us tourists are too hot to wear bomber jackets in July. We also wear color, apparently the Brits haven’t worn color in a long time.
8) Schnozes. Every other man has a nose like Ringo Star…or John Lennon if they are lucky, which isn’t saying much.
Today, as I was walking around the wet streets of Hampstead admiring the George & Mary styled town-homes, I was reminded of Peter Pan. I could just imagine him chasing his shadow through the playrooms of the houses - stealing children away to Neverland. Anyway, it has inspired me to purchase and read Peter Pan. The quotes I’ve found are just marvelous!
“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”
“You know that place between sleeping and awake, that place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always think of you.”
“Wendy,” Peter Pan continued in a voice that no woman has ever yet been able to resist, “Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys.”
“So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!”
“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.”
Two days of sightseeing = too tired to write. Enjoy what my eyes have seen and my camera captured.
I’m finally here in London - well, the countryside more like…I haven’t actually seen central London yet. It hasn’t really hit me yet either. Right now it feels like I’m at camp except everyone here has funny accents. I like it so far. The room is ho-hum but I plan to do nothing more than write a few course papers and sleep in here anyway so it shouldn’t be a big problem. I’ve been doing everything I can to distract myself from my sleepiness. It’s 6 o’clock here but my body still thinks it’s noon. I’m going on about 3 hours of sleep. So I’m tired, hungry for lunch/dinner and restless for distraction.
I came to the realization that my first trip out into the big city will be on Friday when I go see Les Miserables with my sorority sister who is working in the city. This will be my first time to venture out into London so I’ve done some research to make sure I take the correct tube train, etc. Bang-Boom, the trip couldn’t be easier! woowho! I plan on getting there super early so I can check out Piccadilly Circus before the show. I’m under the impression that it is like a small Times Square so I’m looking forward to it!
I plan on adding some photos once I get a good bunch. Everything I have currently was taken through a moving bus window - how touristy of me!
Now I have to go put on my face on for the meet and greet tonight. These Louis Vuitton bags under my eyes aren’t!!! I’m wondering what I should wear…hummmmmmm…decisions decisions ;D
Today I took one of my wards to The British Emporium in Grapevine, Texas while we were out-and-about. It was my second time to go to the store which has everything from Doctor Who and Downton Abbey paraphernalia to bangers and jammy doggers. I wanted my picky-eating friend to see what kinds of delicacies I had to look forward to in the coming month. With his tongue wagging in disgust, I read off the labels on the frozen meat pies, crisps, and other assorted foods that make the stomach reel. ”Ann, please don’t go! You’ll die eating this junk!”
Well, it’s good to know someone cares that I very well might die of starvation, but I’m also fairly certain the Cadbury company will keep me alive for at least a few weeks.
We then moved away from the food section of the store (which I might add is buried in the back for good reason) and towards some of the novelty items. As I picked out some Twinnings Breakfast Tea he was entertained by an UK to American “slang dictionary”.
“Ann, it says babysitter is called a ‘child minder’ and a bandage is called an ‘elastoplast’” and the like. It was a fun and enlightening visit for my little friend whose only impression of England is Harry Potter and Sherlock.
A girl can get used to weather like this! (well, maybe not all the rain…)
The countdown leaves me at 2 weeks until I fly off to London.
I purchased my converter today so we’ll see how that goes. I imagine the scene from Leap Year when Amy Adams’ character plugs in her iPhone and the entire inn hums before being cloaked in complete and utter darkness. Hopefully I won’t have to post any “I’m without electricity” blogs - which might be difficult without electricity, I’ll admit!
I’ve been doing lots of research on different things including Versailles, the festivals I will without a doubt be apart of in Edinburgh, my family’s Scottish clan crest, and the catacombs in Paris (thanks to an article in The Dallas Morning News). Upon hearing there were real life catacombs I quickly grabbed my leather jacket, fedora and bull whip and threw them into the suitcase. I mean, they advertise this place by stating the following: Above the doorway is the inscription: Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la mort (Stop! Here lies the empire of death). Yessssssssssssssssssss!
Les Miserables has indisputably become the world’s most popular musical, having been seen by over 55 million people worldwide, in 40 countries and in 21 languages and is approaching it’s 25th year. From its celebrated opening in London in October 1985, this adaptation immediately captured the imagination and enthusiasm of the theatre-going public. Set in 19th century France, the dramatic score includes the songs “On My Own”, “One Day More” and “Do You Hear The People Sing?”.
It also looks like Nick Jonas will be in the show - so hopefully ticket prices won’t go up too much. Surely he’s not as popular across the pond as he is here. Who cares, I’m sure the show will be spectacular! I’ve always wanted to see it!
I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
As they turn your dream to shame
And still I dream he’ll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.
The London Eye - It’s on my London bucket list
Meanwhile Prince Charles’ ancestors laugh while rolling over in their graves…
BBC Anglophenia: We do know, however, that even though his day job as King-in-waiting has never truly been under threat, he’s also appeared to be sharpening other skills for his resume recently. In Canada, he tried his hand at being a DJ. And,around the same time his mum was opening Parliament, he delivered the weather on television while he visited the BBC’s headquarters in Scotland. He had the personality and banter just right, at one point even quipping, “Who the hell wrote this script?” during the forecast for Balmoral.
Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John H. Watson lived at 221b Baker Street between 1881-1904, according to the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The house is protected by the government due to its “special architectural and historical interest”, while the 1st floor study overlooking Baker Street is still faithfully maintained for posterity as it was kept in Victorian Times.
I cannot wait to see the Sherlock Holmes Museum where I will inevitably subject myself to the tourist trap that is 221b Baker Street. But sometimes it is fun to get sucked into the fiction! Hopefully I will have the good sense not to leave with a deerstalker cap and pipe - but if I do, well, I can look at it as having a “brilliant” Halloween costume for life.
Recently I have been enraptured by Guy Ritchie’s take on Sherlock’s story in the recent Holmes movies in addition to Stephan Moffatt’s (Dr. Who’s head writer and producer) BBC serial Sherlock. Holmes is truly a character for the times and I am glad to see that there are large amounts of fans who are being re-drawn to the mystery stories. Sherlock Holmes has become somewhat of a superhero. Probably Hollywood’s marketing of him…
That being said, I will try not to be too disappointed if the whole experience is adorn in price-tags and instead look at it as the local that inspired Conan Doyle to write the tales of the famous consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes.
If it is too disappointing, I can always opt to visit the site where Sherlock’s exteriors are filmed at (187 North Gower Street, Camden London, NW1 2NJ).
This is where Speedy’s Cafe is - note the same exterior of the show’s 221b site, but with actual address on door. Might be fun to see where the show is filmed…
John Watson: [upon first seeing Baker Street] Well this is a prime spot. Must be expensive.
Sherlock Holmes: Mrs. Hudson, the landlady is giving me a special deal. She owes me a favor. A few years back her husband got himself sentenced to death in Florida. I was able to help out.
John Watson: You stopped her husband from being executed?
Sherlock Holmes: Oh, no. I ensured it.