28 October 2013

Peace After the Storm

The storm had passed. I observed the fallen leaves through the window while checking my email. "To reiterate, the class on class is cancelled," wrote Professor L. Having spent the last three days dissecting David Felman's chapter titled Class in Burke's History and Historians in the Twentieth Century, I was a bit disappointed. Fallen trees had evidently 
taken away my chance to discuss the works of Eric Hobsbawm and E.P. Thompson with peers.

Like Queen Anne realizing the potential for Ascot, I seized the opportunity to visit the British Museum on a week day. I had just been there the day before but the madness of the masses cut my visit short. Needless to say, I reinforced my policy of not going out on weekends.

Taking up my tote and trench, l hastened to the bus stop. Upon swiping my Oyster card, I reveled in the emptiness of the red bus. Seating myself by the wheelchair area I dreamt I would be able to claim just as much personal space in the museum. Greedily, I imagined myself in the presence of the Rosetta Stone sans tourists.

As I ascended the steps and passed between the Ionic columns, museum goers spilled out of the main entrance bordering Great Russell Street. Once inside I was relieved to not meet my death by crowd suffocation. Sitting on the floor unaccompanied in the King's Library
 was the pinnacle of my trip.
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M.J.W.

23 October 2013

Decadence

I made a right turn from Knightsbridge, abandoning the view of Harvey Nichols. The stoop that surrounded the side of Burberry was appealing. I wanted nothing more than to sit on it to physically claim out a space for myself. I drew as close to the stoop as I could without actually sitting. According to the map, Harrods was just around the corner. "Go to Harrods," J.H. and K.B. had instructed. I continued my turn onto Brompton Road and took a moment to mentally applaud my navigating ability. I looked right and then left, recognizing that my instinct to look the correct way for oncoming traffic had been committed to implicit memory. Tourists were photographing Charles William Stephens' epic structure. I felt inclined to follow their example before heading inside. I am not in the market for a £1,000 bag today, I thought. But if I were, I would know exactly were to go. I traveled uninterested, through the sea of decadence . When I landed upon the books, I was amused but did not take time to browse intensely, bearing in mind the impact books have on the weight of a suitcase. Omnia Omnibus Ubique, goes the Harrods motto. Having brought myself to the food hall, I was still doubtful of the store's potential to fascinate me. Then I began to crave chocolate and inquired after its location. For the rest of my visit I swirled around in the fine company of Prestat and chocolate by Harrods. Truffles by the former were consumed before exiting the food hall, despite notices asking costumers to refrain. A chocolate bar by the latter was enjoyed on the walk home westward on Knightsbridge.
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M.J.W.

17 October 2013

Settler


It took 2 1/2 weeks for me to finally feel settled in London. I am at greater liberty to move at a slower pace.

I make a greater effort to chew my food instead of practically swallowing it whole. By food I mean that which I cook myself. I discovered, just because a restaurant is full (even with what seem to be repeat customers) that does not mean the food is edible. Here, restaurants with exceptional food need to  be purposefully sought out. One does not stumble upon good food easily like one does in New York.

Not only can I now cross a 5th Avenue sized street but I have slowed my walk to a carefree stroll. This decrease in speed due mainly because I walk so often that I get tired but also it is a way to observe my new city under a microscope.

The science of my shopping usually takes the form of a mission. I prefer to go solo and with purpose. But now that I am in Europe (sort of) I am desperate to thrift, a process that calls for patience. After seeing The Words (2012), I dreamt of finding old manuscripts in old briefcases. There is nothing like a primary source to a historian in the making. 

Homework at the postgraduate level consists of independent reading. Thus I am obligated to devour Smuts' The Court and its neighbourhood: royal policy and urban growth in early Stuart London while luxuriating at Banqueting House. When I wear out my welcome under Rubens's ceiling, the London Eye is a 14 minute walk away, well maybe 22 with my newly perfected stroll. 

M.J.W.

11 October 2013

London in Autumn

London in Autumn


M.J.W.

04 October 2013

Reflections on Day Five

I have been in London for five days and have not seen anything.

The vacuum cleaner is called the hoover. It has a face and its name is Henry. He does not clean well.

Vehicles will not readily yield to pedestrians. Since I am not yet fully confident when crossing the street when it is my turn, this has been problematic. I am however getting used to looking the correct way for oncoming traffic.

A salesperson will not readily assist you. You must ask for help when needed. The United Kingdom is a country of negative politeness.

Curtains and cotton bedding at John Lewis were well worth the price. I did not know people actually bought polycotton sheets. 

The flat sheet, fitted sheet and pillowcase are all sold separately. I have yet to see them sold together in one pack - "it's like à la carte but without food," jokes best friend.

There is a music room, TV room, laundry room, computer room, study room and bar. There is not a fitness center.

There is no wine at the bar? That's the only thing I drink.

It took four days to find a Brita.

"They gave you four burners and a microwave?" asks Mommy. 
"No," I say. " They gave me two burners and a microwave."
"I guess they want you to use the microwave instead of an oven. I guess that's why they call it a microwave oven."

The light and the light switch may not be located in the same room.

The Underground is actually way under ground. The deepest station in central London is Bank at 41.4 metres (136ft) below street level.

Floor 1 is a floor above the ground floor.

White seedless grapes from M&S = perfection. I ate a whole container of them in one day.

I have been to Nando's twice in 5 days.

A party can actually be lame, in which case it is perfectly alright to leave. Fergie says, "a little party never killed nobody." But a lame one certainly has a drowning effect. 

I need a pair of Chelsea boots. Everyone else has them.

The women here really know how to work the black tight.

1 USD = 1.77 GBP

7 pounds tip is too much for a 19 pounds taxi trip. 

Taxis should be used only if absolutely necessary. The Transport for London is fantastic.

"The Oyster card? I really want some oyster crackers," I thought while at Gloucester Road.

Settling in a new city takes time. I will keep calm, and carry on.

M.J.W.

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