Category: London Calling!


My prof for the second week session said that everyone should bring the books we got for the summer school, and he will make arrangements to ship them back for us.

This is great, because he gave us a lot of heavy books for the criminal law session.

I asked him if he would ship back the other books I’d bought, too. He laughed and said “well, how many are there?”

I said, “….about 20…”

He said “WHAT”

I said “yeah….”

He said “What the heck kinda books are these? Are they law books?”

I said “…some of them…”

(Truth. I did grab a couple books on the law in Ancient Rome. When I take Law of Ancient Greece and Rome it is entirely possible that I’ll already own some of the required books. :P)

He stammered and blustered and then I felt so bad for making him feel so flustered that I laughed and said I really didn’t expect him to. After I went to the British Museum and came back with an armload of books and I still had four weeks to go, I came to the conclusion that I’d just have to ship a bunch back. Either way, I fully expect that US Customs is going to be confused by my buying habits.

Mama Red wanted to know how school was going. (Everyone wave at Mama Red. Who now is going to give me her opinion on her new nickname.)

In Comparative Counter Terrorism we really solved nothing, but it did spawn my favorite new game of “Spot the CCTV cameras!” I was outside St. James Palace, taking pictures of the guards (you can’t go in, because it is Prince Charles’ residence, but you can walk past). And I was looking around trying to spot the cameras in the area, and saw a bobbie (that’s a police officer) giving me a weird look. I smiled at him (sunnily) and realized that a) since I was obviously trying to look for the CCTV cameras, I probably looked like I wasn’t up to a lot of good, and b) since I was being really obvious about what I was doing, it probably also looked like I would not be very good at not being up to a lot of good.

I still think torture is completely unacceptable. As do I think that allowing police to drive up and down the street with a heat sensing thingie to try and figure out who might be growing marijuana in the basement is unacceptable. I did have one classmate that said it’s totally okay because that’s what police are there for and why should we protect criminals (a position I can actually respect, to the extent that he’s put some thought into it. And he had, a little, so.) and another who said “Well, since I don’t grow pot in MY basement, I’m not doing anything wrong, so why should I be bothered by it? They won’t scoop up me.”

…..

Happily, she has no intention of working in the criminal justice system, on either side.

The biggest thing we’ve learned here is that the UK doesn’t have the exclusionary rule. If police collect evidence illegally, a judge can rule that the evidence is admissable, as long as it doesn’t affect the fairness of the trial.

….

When we broke up for our small groups, the US students were all like “WHUT” and the UK students were like “EXCLUDE WHUT”

(Also the UK procedures for an ID line up are a lot more fair to the defendant, since witness ID is so problematic anyway, I think this is good).

(Papa Red, it IS problematic. Really. We can discuss this later.)

(I can have WHOLE CONVERSATIONS with people when they aren’t even here. It saves a lot of time.)

So that’s school. My other story is not about school, it’s about this woman I met at Love Never Dies last night

(Capsule review of LND: Better than expected. It avoided the middle ground of being not bad enough to warrant the ticket price for trainwreck value, and not being good enough that it wasn’t worth the ticket price. It was about worth the ticket price. )

So there I was, waiting for the show to begin, and realizing I didn’t have a program, and I hear this older woman behind me going through the program with her husband saying things like “Oh, yes! We saw him in Les Miz!” and “Oh, we’ve seen her on the telly! Lovely voice.”

After the show, I went round to the stage door, because what the hell, you know? I knew where it was (it had been on a ghost tour I was on the other night) and hey, I know it’s done, because A-M had told me stories about waiting at West End stage doors for Judi- sorry, DAME Judi Dench.

And there was the little old lady, waiting eagerly, and while we were waiting for the actors to come out, she regaled me with stories from her SIXTY ONE YEARS of collecting autographs. She lives in Yorkshire with her (self-described) long suffering husband, and they come to London every so often and take in a batch of shows (today they are at Wimbeldon, tomorrow they are seeing Legally Blonde, which I am seeing on Monday). She was determined to get a certain member of the ensemble’s autograph, because she had seen him in several shows but he’d always managed to elude her.

At that point, one of the principals came out, and managed to not be recognized by anyone- except the little old lady from Yorkshire. Who took a few seconds to take stock of the situation, and went haring after her. And came back triumphant.

So then, as people would come out, she would accost them, peer at their face, turn to the appropriate page in the program, and get them to sign it. The members of the ensemble were always thrilled to oblige- they don’t have name parts, they are generally not known people, so giving autographs isn’t something they get to do. Then she would demand if this particular actor she wanted had snuck out when she wasn’t looking. “Oh he hasn’t? Oh, good. And does he still look like his picture?”

I asked her if I could take her picture, because she was an absolute hoot. She said “Well of course, dear. but I don’t understand why you’d want a picture of me!” (I haven’t downloaded it yet.) I then left to go find some dinner, leaving her waiting to get the autograph of Paul Farrell (if he happens to google his name, and missed her Friday night, he’ll now know. 😀 And if he didn’t miss her, I imagine that the others who she demanded information from have filled him in. But still, get his google stats up. I’M HELPING HIS CAREER OKAY). I hope she did.

I still exist

So I’ve got seven more days in London, and it feels like it’s wrapping up.

I have to make a huge plug for London Walks, a company that runs ALL SORTS of walking tours all over London and beyond. They ran the tour of Legal London we went on the first week we were here, and I’ve been on a total of six walks.

My roommate would like me to point out here that doing a bunch of walking tours on a bum knee was possibly not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. That is true, however, if I just sat on my ass and moped about because of a bum knee, that would not have been a good use of this trip. So we muddle through.

One of the things that I collect (and I collect a lot of stuff) is books of locally published ghost stories of places I’ve been, or places I where people I know have been. I also like going on ghost sotry walking tours. London Walks has FOUR different ones- and I’ve done three of ’em. (The fourth I probably won’t be going on, because it’s offered Tuesday and Saturday nights, and this Saturday I’m going to Hampton Court, and Tuesday I’m going to see a play- more on that in a bit).

Admittedly, going on ghost tours right around the summer solstice is not as spooky as it could be. But it was still good fun.

So, for my last full weekend in London, I have rather a lot planned. Tomorrow (Friday) I’m going to the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum- they don’t cater to my particular nerdosities, so the time spent in either won’t be too crazy- and probably stop in Harrods to do a bit of looting in the food halls. Tomorrow evening, I am going to see Love Never Dies, which is a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. One of the ghost stories we heard tonight involves that particular theater.

Saturday, I am going to Hampton Court, hopfully with a girl from school, but we’ll see.

Sunday, I am going to Bath.

Monday night, I am going to see Legally Blonde. Since it is the fault of that movie that I went to grad school in the first place, which lead directly into my going to law school, it seems only reasonable.

Tuesday night, I scored a ticket to go see War Horse, which is a play about a horse that goes to France in WWI with the army. The horses are played by lifesized puppets, which look AMAZING.

I’ve seen places that were used as locations in the Harry potter movies, I’ve seen Parliament, and the tombs of kings and queens. Hell, I saw the Queen. I’ve seen art that I’ve only ever seen in books, I mucked around in the Thames and got a 16th century roofing tile.

It’s been a good trip.

Westminster at Sunset

Houses of Paliament

Boudicca and Big Ben

Big Ben from the visitor's entrance to the Houses of Parliament.

Short post

I went to the Tower of London, All-Hallows-By-The-Tower Church, Tower Bridge, and the HMS Belfast today.

So, as you may expect, I am COMPLETELY KNACKERED.

(That’s British for COMPLETELY POOPED.)

However, I will say this: I think I did more stairs today than I did when I went to the Paris Catacombs. My knee is not happy with me, however, and this is statistically significant, my lungs are NOT unhappy with me. It seems that the damage done to them when I had swine flu has been, finally, repaired (in cool and not too humid conditions, results may not replicate in more adverse conditions).

Whatever, I’ll take it.

And, not to make this post completely boring, here is a picture of the raven I bought at the Tower of London. His name is Ned.

Ned!

Some of you know that I am reasonably good at navigation. Other than an occasional east-west problem (which I really can’t explain), I can find my way around.

This stems from a terror of not knowing where I am, or how to get out of where I am into more familiar territory. My mother had me navigating on family road trips almost as soon as I could grasp the concept of a map, and it’s always been exciting to see where you are in relation to where you’ve been. She also has a history of losing the car, or not doing so well on small-scale navigation- a story (sorry, mom) :

A few years ago, I was home for a summer vacation, and we went to a play at the Guthrie theater (the new one). We left from a slightly different door than we came in, and she had a small tizzy where she said “I don’t even know where the car is! This is gonna take forever!” and I said “Mother, I’ve been your daughter my entire life. I CAN ALWAYS FIND THE CAR.” And I did. And she glared at me suspiciously and said “Do you mean to tell me that you developed your navigation skills OUT OF SELF DEFENSE?” and the truth is that yes, I did.

So, really, I’m not finding Central London that difficult. I studied Google maps EXTENSIVELY before I left. I Street-Viewed the route from the train station to the dorms (not that it helped that much, because GETTING to the point where the street view was useful took a little work). I even google-street-viewed the route to the hotel in Paris from the Metro station. And that was a trip, let me tell you, internets.

Today we had a three hour break between the end of class and the beginning of the panel discussion. I wanted to go to the Museum of London again to finish seeing everything, and another classmate wanted to go, too. So we went. I got us there with no difficulty and got us back to school with no difficulty. She was like “How do you do this thing!” and I was like “Skillz, I has them Also I hate being lost. So I avoid it as much as I can.”

(To be completely honest, it’s not a difficult navigation problem. You leave school, turn left, and walk a bit, and there are.)

Now, the frusterating thing is when people (and it’s usually guys) who palin don’t believe that I can possibly know where I’m going or how to get there. There were a couple of knuckleheads who decided I was WRONG AND WRONG about how to get out of St. Pancras, and then ended up having to jump a wall while I jumped the taxi queue. And then they got all patronizing about it when I was like “you were twelve kinds of wrong.” (“YOU WERE ALSO WRONG.” “Really wasn’t.” “I AM CONVINCED THAT WE WOULD HAVE ENDED AT THE ASS END OF THE WORLD.” “Your conviction means nothing IF YOU’RE WRONG.”) (And I was right, too. Believe you me, I KNOW THE SHORTEST ROUTE HOME FROM ANY POINT IN THAT STATION.)

I hate new people. I really do.

(But I’m not bitter.)

(Fuckers.)

(Sorry, mom.)

(anyway)

Anyway, armed with a good map, a reasonable set of observation skills (street signs tend to be on building, not ON THE STREET AS GOD INTENDED), some memory of where you’ve been, a bit of fearlessness (the worst thing that can happen is you have to ask someone directions OH NOES) and not being unwilling to admit you’re wrong and turn back (which also leads into being willing to not worry too much about looking stupid (though I have been known to make the block on a backtrack when I want to avoid looking too stupid)) you too can navigate London. Or even Paris!

Today, June the 12th, is the Queen’s observed birthday. And I woke up ASS EARLY (as in, earlier than I have to for class) to go to the Trooping of the Colors Parade from Buckingham Palace to the Parade Ground where they do they actual Trooping of the Colors (and she inspects everybody and presumably there was a military flyover when it was all over and everyone came back to Buckingham Palace, so sayeth Wikipedia).

So I got up ASS EARLY to get to Buckingham Palace to get a good spot, and I kind of did, until the Metropolitan Police put a bunch of their people right in FRONT, and it was like dude, I had a great shot, now it’s just a GOOD one but I’m not moving because there are a LOT of people behind me now.

Also at some point a man came by selling flags “So you can wave them at the Queen on her birfday.” You could get a Union Jack, or a St. George so you’d also be able to wave it during the US-England World Cup game tonight.

So. lets see how we can insert images, yeah?

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So that’s the Royal Standard being flown over Buckingham Palace (indicating the Queen is in residence). The Victoria Memorial is in the foreground.

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Beefeaters now carry machine guns. TEMPORAL DISSONANCE WHUT.

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Prince William (some woman behind me screamed out “WE LOVE YOU WILLIAM!” and he waved, but I missed that shot). I think the woman is Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

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I have no idea who these two women are, and I can’t decide if the hats are awesome or ridiculous. possibly both.

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Sadly, this band didn’t start playing until after they passed us. Can you imagine how well trained those horses are?

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They had RANKS AND RANKS of matching dark horses. Surely they wouldn’t notice if I borrowed one, yeah?

Just for a little while?

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Yup. That’s HRM Elizabeth II.

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(Mom, relax, I didn’t hurt anything new, or even hurt anything old any more than it’s already hurt. So just chill.)

We’re at the stage of healing where if I have the brace and have the crutches, my knee actually doesn’t feel too bad most of the time. However, and I know from bitter experience, if I try to remove either one of those thing too soon, it’ll be bad. However, it’s really hard to tell where “too soon” ends and “about time” begins. I know it’s not NOW.

Anyway, today I slept in like WHOA- about 11 hours of sleep. Then I made breakfast (I’m totally sold on the electric kettle thing- totally. Sold. Best thing ever) and eventually got my shit together enough to go to the British Museum. I got an Oyster Card (the transit pass for the tube) and found all the elevators (three of them) that would take me to the Piccadilly line.

Two things: First, I would have been TOTALLY SCREWED if I tried to take the Tube to St. Pancras with my luggage and the crutches. It would have SUCKED ASS. Second, MOST COMFORTABLE SEATS EVER.

The British Museum is huge. It’s not like the Louvre, it’s smaller (but still huge) and is more focused on “Stuff” rather than “Art.”

So there’s greek statuary that is incredible, there’s a room of “Daily life in Greece and Rome” where there is a case full of stuff dedicated to a specific thing- CHildren, or clothing, or medicine (Small terra cotta models of body parts that you would leave at the temple with a sacrific to make that part feel better- including a ear, a boob, a uterus and GUTS. SO COOL.)

(I warned you all I was a nerd.)

There’s rather a lot of remains at the British Museum, too. Several mummies, a dried out body from before the Egyptians started burying people in coffins, a skeleton from after they did (The contact with the desert sand dried out the body so it was rather well preserved- for a many thousand year old dead guy. Once they started using coffins, all that remained of a body put inside a woven reed coffin was the bones). There’s a bunch of others, too. It’s…. odd. I feel kind of bad for them, because this is not how they intended to spend their afterlife.

And while the collections of the British Museum are amazing, there’s a sense of Empire there- not much of the collections are British in origin- they were snagged from expeditions, or during the Empire, and it’s odd to be thrilled that I get to see some of this stuff without having to go to those places, but still feeling a little guilty about it.

Also, I’m really clumsy and I break things a lot. Mom and Dad used to take me in antique stores are the time and explained that “This is a look-no-touch store!” and I would walk around with my hands behind my back. I like to touch things. I was going to go through the gift store and went “…..oh, no, no, no.” Because it was tightly packed and I also did just spend a bunch of money in the bookstore. 😛

So…..

Y’all know I’m a nerd, right? I mean, a REALLY HUGE DAMN NERD.

I’ve been abroad for four days, spent two days travelling, and in the two days remaining, I’ve bought five books.

LOOK I CAN’T GET THESE BOOKS IN THE US OKAY

AND ONE OF THEM WAS ON SALE.

Just a quick one

No good stories today, or any pictures. We went from Paris to London today, and the Eurostar takes way longer when you don’t sleep through half the trip.

So we’re moved into the dorms (Nido Student Housing) and I’m cranky because I don’t have my towels that I ordered to be waiting for me (or my laptop safe, or my TV OR MY LAUNDRY BAG) and they can’t do anything about it till Monday.

(I will admit, that I’m cranky about more than that- this knee thing is kinda bumming me out. I can’t do the things I want at the speed I want and if I try, I pay for it. I’m trying really hard to be all zen, que-sera-sera and shit about it, but not very well all the time.)

Anyway, tomorrow I’m going to do something fun- Possibly the British museum or something like it.

Oh! Jet lag. Don’t really have any. I had a red eye flight, and I never really slept on the plane. There was dozing, but mostly I was watching movies and trying to find a comfortable position and failing. I used the old trick of “You can substitute food for sleep up to a point” to get myself to Paris, slept for an hour on the train, and had a nap at the hotel while waiting for the classmates I was meeting up with. Then we had dinner, and I fell DEAD asleep, and was that way until morning. And that was my adjustment to the time change.

Woohoo.

(I’m not sure this would have worked if it were a smaller time change- 6-7 hours is enough to throw you so completely off you can either try and compensate before or after or just power through it. 3 hours? That’s not that big or that small. 1 hour time change for day light saving time puts me off for a week.)