"Blogging isn't journalism, it's graffiti with punctuation."

>culture shack

>the infamous london fog. light rain, slow drizzle, then blister-sun-rays. i never know how to dress. broken flip flops. broken sunglasses. all broken on my body.

yesteray morning was the 1 year anniversary since the london underground bombings. a moment of silence deafened the stroke of noon.

moments of silence have lost their power. we should have had a moment of raw screaming.

i toured the Theatre Museum in covent garden. artifacts, relics, keepsakes. they trace the history and evolution of british theatre from the elizabethan period onward. like revisiting my theatre undergrad all over again, but this time with something more tangible and much more profound. lecturing never functions as it should. museums are the last bastion of effectively edifying the public.

and this museum was free, bitch.

i then ran in and out of doorways for a couple hours, trying to stay out of the rain. forgot my poncho at the hostel. i look like a raging nimrod with it on anyway. awnings and doorways, shops and tents. i couldn’t take it anymore, and bought a clockwork-orange-hoodie for £20. wearing a hoodie in london, for some reason, makes others think you’re a street kid. but it’s a new way to stave off the male-gaze.

i feel like a nomad in this place.

i then made my way to the Tower of London, the ancient complex where political prisoners where held captive, tortured, or beheaded for centuries upon centuries. i took my time traversing it. 3 and 1/2 hours later, i emerged from the belly of the snake. i was swallowed hole.

my favourite sections were

#1 the Traitor’s Gate, an iron gate set upon the moat water that flows from the Thames, where all prisoners were required to pass through to enter the Tower that held their fate. where Elizabeth herself was sailed through when she was 20 years old, charged by her own sister Mary Tudor of treason for being a protestant.

#2 the Beauchamp Tower, where Lady Jane Grey, Sir Walter Raleigh and the Dudley family among others were held captive for weeks-months-years on end. Their engravings are still etched on the walls there in magnificent artistry (I think Anne Boleyn was also held there, can’t remember). What’s terrifying is that the tower overlooks the scaffold site where they were all beheaded. The connection between Lady Jane Grey, The Dudleys, Anne Boleyn, her daughter Elizabeth, and Robert Dudley is such a rich tapestry.

#3 needless to say, the scaffold site was another favourite. the ravens, which king charles I insisted on keeping to stave ff the fall of the monarchy, wee ironcially looming by the scaffold site. marching down the long spiral staircase of the beauchamp towe to the scaffold site much have been a pain and anguish of unbelievable power for these condemned people. The atrocities that have been done in the name of the monarchy and religion carries on.

#4 the white tower . . . most of the white tower was artillery, which i found boring, but some of the elements of torture captured my attention. the most striking had nothing to do with the history of willing the conqueror, who built the damn thing in the first place. in the 70s, someone left a bomb in the tower, killing 1 person and injuring 35. its spot is marked with a gilt plaque.

i walked out of the Tower of London, looked up at the crying-grey sky, and thought to myself, so this is the world.

behead me, i double dare you.

instead of taking the tube, which is fricken expensive, i decided to walk it back to shaftsbury avenue (i.e. the equivalent of walking from roncesvalles to parliament in toronto). along the way i stopped at The Monument, dedicated to the fire of 1666 that demolished much of the city, apparently starting in the oven of a bakery.

i wove in and out of the streets, until i happened upon St.Paul’s Cathedral. seeing as how it was the bombing-anniversary, they were having a special service. i stopped my ears from listening to the dogma, but the choral singing was, in a word, haunting. their voices soared and echoed like the remnants of a bad dream that stays with you all day. it evoked images of history and secrets and corruption and eyes that see all but tell nothing. walking down the steps of the cathedral, the sun finall broke through and shimmered off the marble and cobblestones.

in bad shoes but high spirits, i made it back to shaftsbury to catch the play Late Fragment. i had booked my ticket earlier that day, but when i arrived to pick it up, they didn’t make me pay for it. i have no idea why i was comp’d in, maybe because it was opening night. only an hour long, it was probably the best play i’ve seen since i’ve been here. surrounding a couple who survived the 9/11 WTC attacks, it begins with a lot of comedic confusion and misunderstandings (“are you actually saying that god destroyed those two buildings so that we could avoid bankruptcy?!!) it evolved into something much more profound, where the husband is certain he’s seriously injured and becomes paranoid, agitated, and immensely troubled. the wife plunges into denial and contemplates an affair with their smooth-talking lawyer. i really loved it, and like all 9/11 post-terrorism plays, it exploes the idea of home.

my feet still aching, i walked home from shaftsbury avenue to bayswater where my hostel is (i.e. equivalent to walking from parliament to victoria park in toronto). the walk took me through bustling piccadilly circus, across a frenzied oxford circus, and through a quiet bayswater road.

i kept looking at the skater couples with fingers intertwined, the pubs that spilled revellers on the streets with pints in hands, the layering of 20th century architecture with 12th, and the thick accents all around me, and i knew i had to step through this culture to find myself somewhere in it.

i ate grapes fr dinner in the common room last night with mike from manchester. we watched the pete doherty (frontman of now-defunct band The Libertines) interview on the bbc till midnight. we giggled like school kids as he smoked like a chimney. we made fun of each other’s accents, and johan (jan?) kissed me on both cheeks that were still wet from my shower.

i’m getting hit on like crazy, but it doesn’t seem real.

i had a da vinci code moment this morning. i found the Temple Church, hidden in the maze of a building complex off the victoria embankment. my feet danced amongst the effigies of the knights, and my heart was shocked by the grim gargoylic-faces that encircle the effigies.

so many things have been consecreated 1000 years ago, and i really wanted to feel like i was walking through history. isn’t that why we visit these places to begin with? for the time travel of it all? to feel like you’re entombed in hisotry with them, not just passing through it.

the Temple is small, like the credibility of the religion it touts.

i then walked along the victoria embankment, the Thames wind passing a col thrill across my flushed flesh. another long walk, and i chided myself for only thinking of the aerobic benefits.

next stop was westminster abbey.

but i’ll tell you all about that another day, my munchkins.

this post is longer than the day.

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6 responses

  1. V

    >when my family and I visited London in the summer of 04, we stayed in a hotel around the corner from Bayswater Station. On the first night, because they had messed up my brother and I’s room, they put me up in a single room at the hotel next door by myself. I was on the fourth floor, in a closet sized room, with an enormous window that looked out over all the roofs of the flats behind the hotel. It was the most amazing feeling seeing London from its rooftops in a little closet room by myself. Reading this has brought back all those memories. Wish I was there with you, we could stroll Hyde Park together, listen to speakers corner, and maybe get on a soapbox of our own.Can’t wait to hear more.V

    July 9, 2006 at 2:55 AM

  2. V

    when my family and I visited London in the summer of 04, we stayed in a hotel around the corner from Bayswater Station. On the first night, because they had messed up my brother and I’s room, they put me up in a single room at the hotel next door by myself. I was on the fourth floor, in a closet sized room, with an enormous window that looked out over all the roofs of the flats behind the hotel. It was the most amazing feeling seeing London from its rooftops in a little closet room by myself. Reading this has brought back all those memories. Wish I was there with you, we could stroll Hyde Park together, listen to speakers corner, and maybe get on a soapbox of our own.Can’t wait to hear more.V

    July 9, 2006 at 2:55 AM

  3. >A friend of mine works at the BMM. If you have a day where you’d like to meet up with a canadian and go around for a day I could give her your contact info. She is totally high energy, lots of fun to be around and is in to theatre, film and culture. She just started blogging yesterday. transgloballip.blogspot.com

    July 9, 2006 at 5:07 PM

  4. A friend of mine works at the BMM. If you have a day where you’d like to meet up with a canadian and go around for a day I could give her your contact info. She is totally high energy, lots of fun to be around and is in to theatre, film and culture. She just started blogging yesterday. transgloballip.blogspot.com

    July 9, 2006 at 5:07 PM

  5. >Hey Christine, It’s Stefan’s friend from North London (transgloballip.blogspot.com). The cheap tip on the tube is to get an Oyster card and always ride after 9:30. You max out at around 4.90 each day for unlimited riding inside zone 1 and 2 (or a 22ish ukp weekly), plus you can cash in the 3ukp deposit once you go back through Heathrow. Will save ya time and cash. ~L

    July 9, 2006 at 9:49 PM

  6. Hey Christine, It’s Stefan’s friend from North London (transgloballip.blogspot.com). The cheap tip on the tube is to get an Oyster card and always ride after 9:30. You max out at around 4.90 each day for unlimited riding inside zone 1 and 2 (or a 22ish ukp weekly), plus you can cash in the 3ukp deposit once you go back through Heathrow. Will save ya time and cash. ~L

    July 9, 2006 at 9:49 PM

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