- Samuel "Dr." Johnson
Since I became, on 18 September 2003, a legal resident of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island, London has hardly left me two free minutes to rub together much less to properly dispatch. However, I have learned to keep my camera in my bag at all times (except, you know, when I remember to take it out and use it).
- The morning of my arrival, the sky over Heathrow was windy and chilly and grey like sweatsocks.
- I made a beeline to the lodging of my mate Fifers, out in Egham, which is actually just outside the M25. I had a job interview only a few hours after I landed, and Fifers extremely kindly suggested I go straight there for a strategic shower and shave.
- I put the monkey suit back on, the more convincingly to grovel for a job. (Someone once told me I clean up well.)
- Half the fun of riding the Tube is reading the advertisements. Alex will laugh long at this one.
- Had an interview with a Japanese investment bank in the City actually caddy corner to St. Paul's Cathedral. (I ended up getting, and taking, this contract. Now I take my lunches in the churchyard.)
- Nearby, I found the foot of Millennium Bridge.
- What sits at the other end of this Bridge is . . . the Tate Modern. Built out of the husk of the former Bankside Power Station, it stands accused of being the world's greatest modern art museum. I don't disagree. About halfway across the bridge, I stopped dead and laughed out loud. "Dude," I said to myself. "You can now go to the Tate Modern ANY TIME YOU WANT."
- In my baronial 6'x12' rented room, preparing to head out, I have folded like laundry and adopted the universal Londoner bloke's "spikey and carefully disheveled" hairstyle.
- Initially, my routine mainly involved heading out every morning to a different WiFi cafe, ideally in some part of London I thought I might like to live, to frantically job- and flat-hunt. Hampstead is a really lovely borough in North London.
- However, I've lingered long in my rented room, in Earls Court. This is my street, the (palpably aptly surnamed) Eardley Crescent. (You can see the "Boka Hotel" sign. That's me.)
- They're able to put out these gorgeous baskets of hanging flowers, in part, certainly, because no one ever has to water them.
- There's art on the Tube platforms sometimes. One in the Gloucester Road station was quite clever.
- Another one, same series.
- My other favorite: For some reason, I think Sara will quite like this one.
- A subsequent WiFi pilgrimage took me to Notting Hill. Anyplace that has a Rat & Parrot pub is just okay by me.
- Next one was just down from Piccadilly Circus. I stood here, on a Friday night, in the middle of the whole thing, before the fountain and the lights and whizzing buses, just knocked out.
- Saturday morning, and I met some mates at the Tate Modern. On the way on the south bank, I got this long shot of Millennium Bridge, with stuff behind it.
- The five-storey floppy guy is even more imposing from directly underneath.
- There's typically installation art in the blimp-hanger-like lobby still known as the Turbine Hall. Currently, it's an attempt to recreate, well, weather including the sun.
- The ceiling was mirrored and we shot ourselves.
- There was supposed to be fog; but it only rolled in when we exited the galleries.
- Our afternoon at the Tate Modern got cut short in order to not miss England v. South Africa in the Rugby World Cup. Suitably, we squeezed into a packed and perilously boisterous pub (the only suitable venue, I was made to understand, for a good rugby match) and drank pints while I tried to puzzle out the rules, and shouted, "England! ENGLAND!!!" everytime something good seemed to happen. We went from there to dinner at the Japan Center on Piccadilly, thence to drinks on Leicester Square, then a showing of the new Tarantino flick at Odeon Leceister Square, then a nearby club weekends are just like this . . . Here's my friend Jaeri, on the Square.
- Flash Mob in Covent Garden.. (What's a Flash Mob?)
- Went out on a Sunday simply to do a bit of shopping, but wandered into Trafalgar Square during some elaborate military ceremony. Never did find out what they were on about.
- And the winner for Best Public Service Tube poster of all freakin' time is . . .
- The sun sets on the British Empire or, on Kensington High Street, at any rate.
- The blokes at work invited me out for a pint down the drinker, on the corner. I stepped out afterwards and got hit in the face with St. Paul's after dark.
- Taking myself out to a flick at the London Film Festival, I passed Trafalgar Square, also all bubbly and lit up.
- The West End: buses moving fast, theatres staying put for centuries.
- Queen Elizabeth I now lives at the National Portrait Gallery.
- Just outside the NPG, night time.
- Yes, there is a Texas Embassy. (*)
- My place of work: historic Bracken House, former home of the Financial Times.
- Walking across Putney Bridge to . . .
- Guy Fawkes Night celebrations aka Bonfire Night! In 1605 a plot was foiled to kill the King by blowing up the Houses of Parliament the whole Houses of Parliament. Guy Fawkes was caught with 36 barrels of gunpowder in his basement (and as a result tortured and executed) and catastrophe was averted. I find it incredibly telling that the biggest secular holiday in the U.S. celebrates the overthrowing of the government; and the biggest secular holiday in the U.K. celebrates putting down an attempt to overthrow the government.
- But you get fireworks either way.
- Not to mention l'amour! Wait, Fifers is American, Yu-Kyoung is Korean . . . I give up. It's a post-national world, I suppose.
- The Natural History Museum is another huge, breath-taking winner. The outdoor exhibit there is Earth from the Air.
- The interior (lobby) is even better.
- My buddy and former colleague Josh (nee Skeet) Schroeder, down from Edinburgh, claims to have long wanted to turn up IN a Fuchs Dispatch. "Long-time listener, first-time caller!"
- Any place they've got monkey skeletons swinging from the rafters is okay by us.
- The fine T-Rex special exhibit also gives us the opportunity to judge once and for all: Who's the Tyrant King of Lizards? Vote now!
- The drop-you-in-your-tracks exhibit, though, was the 2003 Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Oh my. The versions on the site are deeply inadequate. The wall text alone was worth the price of admission.
- On a recent Friday evening, I felt too much energy to climb down into the Tube, so I walked most of the way home. I brought my camera. First stretch: Fleet Street
- Shortly past that, the Royal Courts of Justice.
- Jubilee Bridge.
- Sightseeing boat, Blackfriars Bridge and St. Pauls in the background.
- The inimitable London Eye, from Westminster Bridge. (What kind of world-class city has as its tallest structure a ferris wheel?!)
- Answer: One with a sense of humour
- Sunday nights, they have free organ recitals inside the main cathedral at Westminster Abbey. And how much more, really, can be said about a place than that? Cheers, all.
"One evening, in early April, I was chest-deep in freezing water in a Northumberland Lake . . ."
"I then set up my home-made infrared sensor equipment so that the owls could take self-portraits as they flew in and out . . ."
"A sudden movement in a nearby tree distracted me, and I was amazed to see a rock python swallowing a woodland kingfisher . . ."
"After following groups of dusky langurs for weeks in southern Thailand . . ."
"After a few weeks following a giant river otter family in Pantanal, I gradually won their trust . . ."