Saturday, January 24, 2009


So I finally learned what the American name for a swede (root vegetable) has been all along: Rutabega! Everything is in its proper place. The universe makes sense again.

So England is still there, for anyone who was curious. Even after all the colonizing there's a few people left to hold down the fort.

My objectives in visiting were straightforward--look at schools, travel the countryside, and make good use of the intervening time in the company of one ginger-bearded beatnik.

All three objectives were met with fairly high levels of success. Schools were indeed visited, and heaps of first impressions were garnered. I enjoyed talking to nearly everyone I met--except for one dangerous and disgusted-looking receptionist. I'm sorry for looking like the guy who gypped you out of owning Madagascar, ma'am. Really. I actually apologised when I asked if I might be allowed past the barbed-wired checkpoint to use the restroom. "Fine, its to the right, up the stairs--the women's room has a stick-figure of a woman in a skirt on it. Don't go in the one without a skirt. That's for men." "Thanks, where I come from ladies just use the earthen pit with a door." Anyway. All the other receptionists I met were friendly and helpful--particularly the young man who not only helped me get a tour of his school's props department, but got out a map and guided me to the right street when I got lost on the way. He gave me an excellent first impression, and I applaud his institution for employing him as their face and voice.

In the interest of courtesy I'm not going to list the details of my school tours here as I don't really know the people I encountered and, what with the ready availability of information on the internet to those who seek it creatively, I'm sure its easy to link my applications to all of the dumb things I've posted here over the years. So why exacerbate the problem?

The thing I always find rather disquieting is how many people share my exact name, and of those, how many are near my age, roughly share my interests and inhabit places I've lived. I have an unsettlingly large number of people to trust with my reputation--what if one of them gets convicted of murder? Or uploads a compromising but faceless video onto youtube? I do my best to be internet-obscure, but even if I didn't use the web at all these folks could inadvertently smear me in the eyes of a curious department head. I'm keeping a close eye on you, Kristen from Denver!

In any case, Canterbury is still lovely and still slowly collapsing under its own age. London Bridge station is still crawling with gruesomely made up actors (who have swallowed a Lot of pride) trying to recruit visitors to the London Dungeon. Cornish pasties still taste amazing. The weather still shows off with snow and fog when I come to town. The automated voice announcing that this is a Piccadilly-line train to Cockfosters still makes me laugh like a drain. And the center of the London Tower Drawbridge still refuses to bounce, no matter how hard you jump on it.

New discoveries for me this trip included Canterbury's Boho Cafe (with its delightful motif of early 1970's-era clocks--some are right twice a day, some will never catch up), new management at the Cricketers (and new employees who enjoy American football--c'mon brain, think of a team name! think of a team!), hilarity and good music at Brighton's Sanctuary Cafe's "Cella," (where I gained a new appreciation for ants, dad gags, and dinosaur figurines), and a new perspective on roller coaster terror by observing the carnival rides on the Brighton Pier.

Art I enjoyed this go 'round included Thomas Brock's Eve and a silver and diamond bodice ornament at the V&A, the water features of More London, and the hilariously, disgustingly gaudy Royal Pavilion, Brighton.

As usual I expressed my sympathies for the preserved Egyptian man at the British Museum and vowed to demand my remains be cremated, tripped over at least twelve cobblestones on the Canterbury High Street, and consumed entirely too many potato-based foods. I gained five pounds. It was fabulous.

Ah, Southeast England--it had been too long. I want to come back to stay--will you have me?

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