Uh-whoops! (Or, London Retrospective, Week One)

Well, okay. Apparently I suck at this whole blogging thing, because I’ve been in London for over a month now and, oops, haven’t updated once. What happened, you might well ask, to those much-promised weekly entries? The short answer is that London happened. Sure, we had issues getting Internet access in our flat, and yeah, I’ve been busy with classes and such, but really, after each Awesome Thing I do, I’m too overwhelmed to write about it when I come home. Which is really no excuse, because that’s when my impressions will the the freshest, blah blah values of journaling blah. I know, and I’m terrible, and I’m sorry. So here goes another effort to get back in the habit.

(“Uh-whoops,” in case you’re wondering, is something Flatmate Kathleen has taken to saying lately, and it’s quite infectious. It’s like the standard “whoops,” only better.)

But first, I figure I should catch you up on this past month-and-a-bit, which has been completely packed and absolutely terrific. These week-by-week retrospectives will be presented in installments, because I’m not sure I could actually write everything out in one sitting – shouldn’t you train before a marathon? This’ll get me caught up fairly quickly, though, so instead of telling you about the ancient history of this semester (literally – I’m talking Stonehenge), I can get on to more important blogular things like The Best Cookies In The World and Reasons Why British English Is So Much Better Than Its Bastardized American Cousin. Let’s get this show on the web:

Week One (15 Jan – 20 Jan)

Jet-lagged and shell-shocked, we (when I speak in the plural, I usually mean my flatmates and I, because we do a lot of things collectively) spend our first week in London attending the various orientation activities, frantically trying to find a flat, falling in love with the Faraday House staff (who are incredibly helpful, just up and calling landlords for us and offering advice and being generally wonderful), and wandering around with goofy “Oh my god, we’re in London” grins on our faces. The Underground is discovered and, surprisingly quickly, mastered. British plugs are ridiculed (in a well-meant fashion). We find, purely by chance, the flat of a lifetime, located in a little area called Knightsbridge. You may have heard of it – we live practically on the doorstep of Harrods. We’re paying for it, too; our rent is above the per diem amount given to us by the university, but the safety of the neighborhood and the sheer amount of space we have (below) more than make up for the cost.

Our living room

One night, we head down to the Westminster Tube stop with the intent of just walking around and seeing some of the landmarks – you know, the Houses of Parliament, the Eye, et cetera – because we’re in London, hi, these are the things you see. Immediately upon exiting the Tube station, we…oh. Hello, Big Ben. You’re taller than I expected. We all stop for a second to stare, speechless, at the magnificent tower, lit up and glowing like some golden, Gothic-Revival candle, and for the first time all week, I truly feel like I’m in London. We walk around for nearly three hours, across the Thames, along the South Bank, back across the Thames, through Trafalgar Square, up the Mall and around Buckingham Palace, and finally back past Parliament and Big Ben, laughing and being utterly ridiculous the whole time.

The Saturday before classes start, we make our first sojourn (hopefully the first of several, because the place is huge) to the British Museum, whereupon we make a big deal about Cleopatra’s mummy, I get really excited (no – really excited) about some Greek pottery, the Rosetta Stone is seen and admired, and we buy the best hot dogs in the world from a dude with a cart on the street. Sitting on a low wall in front of the museum to eat them, we amuse ourselves by throwing scraps to the ever-present pigeons. The pieces of bun they devour instantaneously, but they have a little more trouble with the cooked onions; they’re little too large for the birds to swallow whole, and, not having the mandibular capabilities we mammals do, they’re forced to grab the onions up in their beaks and try to choke them down. By some accident of physics, the birds’ head-bobbing and the innate elasticity of the onions converge and…well, let’s just say I’ve never seen anything quite so funny (or quite so pathetic) as a hungry, confused pigeon whirling an onion around its head like a little greasy pigeon-sized foxtail.

(You know, foxtails? Those little…whirly…toy things? If you don’t know what it is, the pigeon thing probably doesn’t seem very funny to you – and, come to think of it, it might not be funny anyway, because it’s probably one of those you-had-to-be-there things, but let me assure you, it was hilarious.)

London, I am firmly convinced after this first week, is pretty rad.

2 Responses to “Uh-whoops! (Or, London Retrospective, Week One)”

  1. 1 Perky (or is it peppy) February 25, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Wait wait wait!!!! where do you find the best cookies in the world!?!

  2. 2 Colin February 29, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    McVities Digestives? Are you familiar? The dark-chocolate-covered variety should be illegal, they’re so good. Oh man.

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