Live From London
By Dwip April 24, 2004, 6:36 am Comments (2) RSS Feed for this post

More Oxford than London, really, but we’ll get there in a moment.

Had a strange dream this morning, wherein I went to McDonald’s to try to get an ice cream cone, a McFlurry, and a milkshake, and the people at the counter couldn’t understand a word I said. Eventually I got fed up, grabbed my stuff, and hopped on the tube. While this isn’t quite as strange as the random dream wherein Tara and I were sitting in what looked remarkably like the Monroe Elementary School cafeteria, eating baked beans and having a very passionate argument about the Roman Empire, considering the gesturing, the ice cream dream was still pretty strange. Also a bit more relevant than the Roman beans dream, as we shall see.

Anyway. Thursday was a pretty wild day, surpassed in wildness only by Friday, but I’m getting ahead of myself again. The morning highlight was going to the British Museum and seeing another gallery of Mesopotamian stuff I hadn’t seen before. A good chunk of this was bas reliefs of Assyrian royals hunting lions, which translates to “Why, yes. On this wall, I killed a record 537 lions, plus those wild asses down the panel a ways. Since my chariot and myself take up a whole panel by themselves, you ought to agree that this is quite impressive.” Too, Dr. Garfinkle and Ella got into an argument over the lion-headed guardian spirit panels, to the tune of:

“So, you can see all these animal-headed guys with wings. The ones are eagles, and the others are lions.”

“That doesn’t look like a lion.”

“Trust me. The Assyrians knew what lions looked like.”

“But it has RABBIT EARS.”

“No, really. If the caption on the panel, in cuneiform, written by an Assyrian, says it’s a lion, it probably IS a lion.”

“But lions don’t have rabbit ears.”

*cue one lion, two lion, red lion, blue lion hunting scene room*

“Now, Ella. Does it look like they knew what lions looked like?”

“Oh yes. These are obviously lions. Notice the lack of rabbit ears?”

And back and forth, for two whole days.

So we get out of class, and Dustin, Margalyn, and I decide we’re starving, and want to try this random cafe place in the Brunswick shopping center by school, which incidentally is one of those tragic 60’s concrete monstrosities that make you clutch your head in pain and wonder where it all went wrong. Hopefully I’ll one day have a picture of this. It’s pretty awful.

Anyway. So we go in, and it turns out that this place is cheap. Cheap by London prices, anyway, which means 3.50 pounds for a fairly decent fish and chips meal, which later turned out to be quite good. But the guy at the register apparently only spoke enough English to understand the menu, because he said “Yes please” to everything, and had absolutely NO idea what we were saying. It was pretty screwy. But we eventually got our food, and it was delicious, and life was good. And then I directed about half of the other program over to this place, because they kept wandering up in school and going “Those fish and chips smell REALLY GOOD! Where did you get them?” This was good.

To make things better, Kara and I decided to liven up our day by going down to Waterloo station to get Kara’s Eurostar ticket. This was done easily enough. We caught the right bus (it said Waterloo on it), went into the station, got the ticket, and left. Then we boarded the bus that said Russell Square on it. After a time, we started getting suspicious when we didn’t recognize any of the landmarks, and got off. As it turns out, the bus lied to us, and we were in Kennington, which is very, very south of where we should have been. Fortunately, Kara found this random guy, who took us to the bus stop, and told us how to work the busses. We eventually got on the right bus, and went back to the Russell Square stop, whereupon Kara was seized by a random news reporter:

“Hi, we’re from Channel 5 News. Would you like to give us your opinion on the recent airing by CBS of the Princess Diana crash footage?”

“Uh, I’m an American tourist…”

“Even better!”

“Well, ok.”

So Kara may or may not have actually been on the news. We all have no idea, since we sort of forgot to ask when they were airing it. Ah well.

Theater class sucked pretty horribly, since everyone was sort of tired, everyone hated Cyrano de Bergerac, and it was a damn nice day out, one of the best we’ve had since we got here. But we eventually got out, went home, and waited until 9pm.

9pm, you ask? Observant readers may remember that last Thursday at 9pm, we all went down to the Manor in Eastcote for…kareoke. Yup, we did it again. And good times were had by all, including Margalyn, Katie, Andrea, Kara, and a couple other people, including this random 40 y/o English guy, doing the B52’s Love Shack. And then everyone proceeded to get drunk, or at least tried. Much was made of Tara’s buying me my first shot, which definitely went down quite well. And then we all went home and dropped into comatose slumber in preparation for the whole 8am on Friday adventure.

Friday, you see, was our Oxford trip. And at 8am on Friday, we were all meeting for breakfast in this diner in Eastcote that’s pretty good. In our case, this meant being awake around 6:30, since Mike sort of forgot to realize we were going out for breakfast, and so left us half an hour for it. Considering the amount of alcohol consumed the night before, some us were slightly more cheerful than the rest of us. And the damn waiter wouldn’t bring me my damn caffiene, or my damn breakfast, which was vastly annoying considering I was starving and cranky. But somehow we managed to make it to the bus anyway, which was surprisingly short, especially considering that we all pretty much slept the whole way over.

So, Oxford. What to say about Oxford? I’m exceedingly jealous of people who go to school there, because it’s one of the coolest places we’ve been to yet. It’s a little bit more modern-looking than Bath, but there’s still random Norman and Gothic architecture all over the place.

Christ Church, which as I understand it is one of the colleges, plus having Oxford’s actual cathedral, is awesome. It’s sort of like you’re looking at this random really old building, and you suddenly realize that oh, people LIVE there. That’s a DORM ROOM. Not fair, I say. Random fan vaulted ceilings abounded. And the cathedral… Oh man, the cathedral. Perhaps the single most spectacular building I’ve been in since I got here. Very ornate, with lots and lots of little things going on. In one corner, you’ve got these little books with the names of the local dead from both World Wars. And there are little monuments and I assume tombs going back into the Middle Ages. Floor tombs, wall tombs, big stone sarcophagi with statues of knights on them, you name it. Nifty, nifty place.

Then we went to the Bodelian library, which I guess was one of the first colleges at Oxford, until they decided that it needed to be turned into a library. In any case, it’s got cool architecture all over, including the chapel/divinity school/dunno what else they used that room for, which has the whole airy Gothic fan vaulted ceiling thing going on, with the added bonus of having the initials of the original donaters of money to the place carved into the ceiling. Quite cool.

From there, we went to St. Mary’s, the full name of which I can’t remember, but had Virgin somewhere in there. At any rate, we all got to climb to the top of the bell tower to have a look around, while they were ringing the bells for St. George’s Day, which is sort of like St. Patrick’s Day, except that nobody actually seems to celebrate it much, or even care. In any case, you gain a new appreciation for spiral staircases, climbing up this thing. The thing was only about four or five feet wide, with barely enough room for my foot. And it kept going and going. Us moderns are fortunate enough to have rope handholds, but ye olde medieval types would’ve been screwed. The view, though, is quite something. You can see all of Oxford from up there, which means the scenery is spectacular. It’s also built for people smaller than me – I could stand on my toes in the archways and bang my head, not to mention I had to walk through sideways. Worth it, though. Someday you can all see the pictures.

From that point, we all wandered Oxford, which is actually worse than it sounds, considering that we spent half the time looking for food, which is sort of strange considering that Oxford is a college town, and the other half looking for ice cream, a thing which is greatly lacking in England as a whole, but especially in Oxford for some reason. In any case, our noble quest eventually led us to McDonald’s, where we found the fabled Holy McFlurry, which was consumed with great joy while we were entertained by the random guy playing bagpipes, and quite well, in the street below.

Eventually we found our way to the Ashmolean Museum for class, which is apparently a very famous sort of museum, but has the misfortunate to be in the same country as the British Museum, which means that the Ashmolean is sort of the ghetto version of the British Museum. Nevertheless, it has a few nifty things, like a LOT of Egyptian artifacts, and some damn fine Greek and Roman statues.

Some time later, everyone decided to go wandering again, which was even less fun than it sounded before, because we did all of nothing, and realizing this everyone decided to go punting, which involves poling around this gondola-looking thing in the river. This may or may not be more fun than it sounds, since I stayed on shore, since my legs at this point were in need of serious medical attention. The end result of this was ending up in this random park, where the ducks attacked other Mike, these two teenagers were going at it for about the hour we were there, and eventually the punters came by. This was…quite the event. The first boat, with Mike my roommate, Katie, Tara, and Allison, went by with no problems due to Mike and Katie’s mad punting skillz.

Then came the other boat. Margalyn had started off with the pole, but at some point Laura grabbed it and took over, much to the detriment of the people in the boat, but much to the entertainment of the crowd on the bank. She nailed the bank a few times, then went into the bushes (“Ow! Ow! Those are STICKER BUSHES! GET OUT! OW!”), then into the bank again, then the wrong way, at which point the other boat came back going the other way. All the while we got narration by Robyn from shore, to the tune of “No, Laura! The bushes AREN’T THE WATER! The bank isn’t the water either! The river is this way!” and other such things. It was the most entertaining moment of the day to date.

About that point, though, everyone decided they wanted to go home, and we decided to go meet up in Northwood at Jeremiah’s and Dustin’s place, never mind that nobody could get ahold of their host parents. So we all get on a couple of busses, which for me involved shelling out 7 more pounds, since my return ticket decided somewhere along the way that it liked Oxford more than it liked me.

In any case, we eventually arrived in Northwood, whereupon we finally got ahold of a host parent and got permission to come over, but lost the whole other bus somewhere, plus both Mikes and Jeremiah, who stayed in Oxford for a while. Nevertheless, we found Blockbuster (right across from the tube station), rented Kill Bill while fending off Jimmy the random English guy (quoth Olivia, “He’s psycho!”), who randomly walked up and started talking to us out of nowhere. This having been accomplished, we came unto the local Pizza Hut, which was one of like two stores open at this hour, the other being the wine store. The predictable sort of thing happened: Maggie bought something like $90 worth of pizza, while Ella, Dustin, and I bought about $70 worth of assorted alcohol. And then we made this epic journey to Dustin’s place, which is miles away from anything. On the other hand, it has a whole bunch of comfy leather furniture and a great big TV. At this point, I ate most of a pizza, drank a bunch of Smirinoff Ice, and watched Kill Bill, which is apparently quite amusing when you’re tired and tipsy, since ALL the blood fountaining shots got laughter. Quoth Ella, “It sure wasn’t this funny the first time I saw it.”

Right about the time the final fight scene happens, us Eastcote folks all left, caught the last tube home, and fell into bed. And my bed, let me tell you, is a most comfortable object.

Europe, Trips Comments (2) RSS Feed for this post
Comments on Live From London
avatar Comment by Regina #1
April 24, 2004 at 1:37 pm

You seem to be building up a tolerance for alcohol. Whir will be so pleased. :P

I laughed out loud imagining the sticker bushes scene. That reminds me of Winnie-the-Pooh falling into the gorse bush. Next up, someone’ll have to be stung by a nettle. Hopefully not you.

I might be over at Oxford doing a summer program, next summer. Or maybe Cambridge. Or maybe neither. *shrug*

avatar Comment by Whir #2
April 24, 2004 at 6:58 pm

He’s probably already got a higher tolerance than I do. I haven’t had any alcohol, minus one bottle of black ice last night, since before New Years or so.