Thursday, September 30, 2010

London: not tired yet

One of my favorite quotations is Samuel Johnson’s “The man who is tired of London is tired of life.” It still holds. London is an amazing place--busier and more crowded than ever. I enjoyed it this visit, but it was so different from my college trip in 1974. This time I didn’t see nearly as many English people. London is full of foreigners. And I can hardly complain, because I’m one of them.

So--no complaining--just bewildered amazement at a place so full and so busy.

The underground, affectionately known as “the Tube” is a marvel of engineering which gets hundreds of thousands of people where they want to go throughout a day. It is pricey, but it works like a Swiss clock.

Some impressions of London. Mind the Gap. Lion King. Phantom of the Opera. Agatha Christie’s “Mousetrap” still playing after 58 years. Stephen Fry (Jeeves) is a very popular stand-up comedian--posters of him everywhere. Bookstores on Charing Cross Street. The Behemoth art exhibit in the Crypt of St. Martin in the Fields: paintings of modern martyrdom and man’s inhumanity to man. The Victoria and Albert Museum. The marvelous advertising in the tube stations. The British Natural History Museum, a veritable temple to Mr. Darwin sitting in his marble throne overlooking this monument to his religion enshrined with scientific calibration and so much “fact.” Not a whiff of God in there. But the building looks like a cathedral.

Perhaps the most bizarre event was being accosted by a Japanese couple (there were very many). The woman had dyed her hair light brown. She wanted photos of herself with as many “bronde” people as possible. So, being “bronde” I was asked to pose with her, which I did. They must have had a hilarious day.

I’m not tired of life, and certainly not of London. However, it is good to be back in Africa where everything doesn’t work like a Swiss clock and tea doesn’t cost $5 a cup!

Coming soon: Some thoughts on education when my mind collects them.