Thursday, April 8, 2010

Winding Down in London.

Well kids, today I am officially down to a single-digit number of days left in London (in other words, 9). You know how some periods of your life go by insanely fast and feel like they've compressed to give you the impression that months seem like weeks? Yeah, that's about where I am. Tomorrow I turn 25 (menace to society. boo ya), and then a week and some later we're outta here. Six days in Rome and then back home. Insanity.

Not a lot has gone down in the last little while, but here are some highlights. Monday we had class and then I sat down to write this semester's biggest research paper. I knocked out all fifteen pages in one sitting. It was a very long sitting, and my brain was fried, but it was nice to have all the research I've been doing at the British Library coming together and making sense. Who would have thought that I would enjoy writing an academic text entitled Ministers and Mormons: George Eliot and Outlying Religious Groups in Victorian England? Not me.

TUESDAY we went to the London England temple for the day. And then I went to KFC.

WEDNESDAY. Yesterday was an in-London group fieldtrip. We got the privilege of going through the Houses of Parliament. It's quite the process to get permission to do so, but it was worth any trouble that Roger had while getting permission. My group's guide was Bob Jones and he was awesome. He works pretty high in the system but spends his mornings giving tours. They call England's system the mother of parliaments, and it's true. Their system influenced ours so much, and ours has returned the favor a little bit (only very recently did England divide the governmental branches so that the judiciary branch has its own equal amount of power). The rooms are gorgeous and so much goes on there. My favorite room was the Queen's preparation room, where she goes to put on the crown and heavy clothing she uses during parliamentary procedure. It's a King Arthur themed room, and I am all about King Arthur. Five of the seven major Knightly Virtues are depicted in paintings, and set in the walls were wood carvings showing main events from Mallory's translation of Morte D'Arthur. The two best carvings were Arthur receiving Excalibur, and the scene where Arthur slays Mordred and Mordred mortally wounds Arthur. Oh man, I freaking love Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. (That's not a bad idea for a band name...)

Following the Houses of Parliament, we grabbed a quick lunch and headed to the Cabinet War Rooms/Churchill Museum. The Cabinet War Rooms are pretty sweet. They were the underground base where the Prime Minister (Churchill) and all his chiefs of staff spent most of their time while WWII was going on. Part of the tour is the Churchill Museum, which was phenomenal. I knew some things about Churchill, but the museum had all sorts of things about him. I was a fan before, but I'm a convert now. He didn't have the greatest track record 100% of the time (let he who is without sin...) but as Prime Minister he was unstoppable. Theoretically, you could say that the man won WWII. Obviously he didn't do so by himself, but without him we could very well have been speaking German right now. Dr. Cooper said that when Winston was dying he said something to the effect of, "I am prepared to meet my maker, but I'm not sure whether my maker is prepared for the inconvenience of meeting me." Great leader, great husband, great wit. There is a shortage of men of that caliber in existence.

This week Macfarlane told us that the program had decided to give us all a list of acceptable fine arts performances that they would reimburse us for (up to sixty pounds). So after the Churchill Museum, Kalyn and I went to get tickets to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a play by Tennessee Williams (an American) starring James Earl Jones (James freaking Earl Jones!) and Phylicia Rashad (the mom from the Cosby show). When we got to the box office it was 2:25, and a matinee started at 2:30, so we thought 'what the shell' and bought tickets for the show. It was pretty depressing but very well done. James Earl Jones is freaking awesome. If you don't know who he is then you seriously live under a rock. He did the voices for Darth Vader and Mufasa, and he's the Beast's owner in The Sand Lot (you're killin' me smalls!). He did such a good job and the play got us thinking about a bunch of stuff. It reminded me a little bit of Waiting for Godot, so it wasn't the most entertaining thing in the world, but it wasn't supposed to be. I'll still take movies over theatre, but not by much.

THURSDAY. Today has been sunny and beautiful. We had our last class period for British Literature (wrapping up being a TA soon) and then I headed out of the centre to visit Hatchards. Hatchards is the oldest surviving bookshop in London. They've been in business since 1797 (a bookstore almost as old as my country) and the place is fantastic. Five floors of books about everything. Literally, everything. I've never been in a place where I've wanted to spend so much money, so I must be becoming one of those book people. Lucky for me I went between classes and had to be back to print off the Brit Lit final study guide, so I only spent thirty bucks. I had originally gone to find a collection of W.H. Auden's poetry for my next paper. I held myself to buying two others (a Rome guide book and my second Felix Dennis [British poet/millionaire] collection) but I made a list of others to look up when I get home (including By the Sword, which is about cultures and civilizations that used swords). It was hard to pull myself away from the place, but I did it.

After lunch and more class I decided to go visit John Wesley. John Wesley is the man that invented Methodism. His younger brother wrote "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing." He was a good man, a preacher, and a social reformer. Cam, Kalyn, Sarah Shepherd, Alyssa, Margaret, and Reesa decided to tag along with me (we can count this as a write-up for Dave's class). It's a little ways away, so we didn't have a lot of time at the church, but we did get a guide. Her name was Carol and she was very nice. She answered a lot of our questions and took us around back so that we could see Wesley's tomb. It's very simple but nice, and the graveyard buts right up against a glass building owned by Reuters.

Then I came home, then I ate dinner, then I talked with Julie Shuler for a while, then I had class, now I'm writing. The end.


M'kynzi Elise said...

SO glad you went to the War Rooms!!

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