Entries Tagged as 'Kelley'
The Norfolk and Norwich Festival is made up of a series of classical music, contemporary music, contemporary performance, and family events. On May 15, I went to visit and experience the Festival Garden Party that occurred in “Festival Gardens” in Chapelfield Gardens. Having a rather limited budget, this event was particularly attractive to me due to the large range of free performances that were being put on.
Upon entering the Gardens, it was pretty clear that this was an event geared towards families. There were stalls selling sugary snacks, brightly colored banners and costumes, and a number of performances. After wandering around the site, I decided to watch Pete Dobbing, an entertainer with a quick sense of humor. He began his act by balancing a ladder on his chin, followed by juggling various objects, solving a Rubik Cube in under a minute and a half, and, my personal favorite, climbing a straight ladder backwards with no support and juggling machetes on top of it. While his act was impressive, it was obviously aimed at families. (However, any person brave enough to climb a ladder in a kilt certainly gets bonus points from me!
Pete Dobbing juggling machetes on a ladder
In addition to Dobbing’s performance, there was an interactive wooden carousel that would have scared me as a small child, a puppet-like show, and free dance lessons. There was also music playing and people all around were genuinely enjoying one of the first beautiful days of spring. In fact, when I spoke to several festival staff, they all commented on the glorious weather being one of the main reasons for the hundreds of people in attendance. On talking to the man in charge of one of the ice cream carts (purely research purposes, I assure you) he mentioned that they had been selling a lot more product than they had anticipated. The family atmosphere, free performances, and the beautiful weather all helped contribute to the cultural experience that was the Festival Garden Party.
Slightly creepy interactive wooden carousel
Festival Garden Party – 3 hours
Total Time – 12 hours
Starting on 7 May and going until later this evening, the Norfolk and Norwich Festival has taken over the city of Norwich. With moving art exhibits, temporary installments in the Norwich Castle Museum, and musical and performance events taking place all over, I made it my goal to experience the culture of the Festival. Being a poor college student, I fully admit that I tended to stick to the cheaper forms of entertainment! Some of the most interesting that I attended were the search for the Red Ball and From the Beatles to Bowie exhibition in the Castle.
There are no illusions to what the Red Ball is. It is a 15-foot inflatable red ball that has traveled all over the world and is making its UK debut in style at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Every day of the Festival, the ball has been in a different location around the city. I knew that the Red Ball was supposed to be coming to Norwich through my research on the Festival, but I had kind of forgotten about it until I spotted it in York Alley from the 25 bus on my way back from the train station and, oddly enough, York. I then made it my goal to find the Red Ball in the city as often as possible. Alas, it often eluded me.
I was lucky enough to spot the Red Ball in five different locations and spent around three hours wandering around Norwich trying to find it. Aside from seeing it in York Alley on 9 May, I also located the Red Ball at Pull’s Ferry on the 13th, St. Peter Mancroft on the 18th, Norwich Castle on the 20th, St. Gregory’s Alley on the 21st, and randomly stumbled upon it on UEA’s campus at the Sainsbury Centre on the 19th. The goal of the organizers of the Festival was the have the Red Ball in places that were both visible and important to the history of the city.
The From the Beatles to Bowie exhibition, formerly at the National Portrait Gallery, was a celebration of British music in the 1960s. Although the exhibit did not come to Norwich for the sole purpose of the Festival, it was brought in conjunction with the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and can be found among the events in the NNF10 catalogue. Thankfully, entrance to this section of the Norwich Castle Museum was quite cheap at around £2.50.
The exhibition had a logical flow. It was primarily a series of photographs of popular British artists laid out chronologically with additional information at the beginning of each year of the 1960s. Being a lover of classic rock, I was particularly pleased with the sections devoted to the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Jethro Tull. The use of photographs made the changing fashion and musical styles of the artists very clear throughout the decade. For example, the clean-cut, peppy style that was popular at the beginning of the 1960s was very different from the shabbier, darker style that was more prevalent towards the end of the decade. Over all, the exhibition showed the impact that music had on culture and change throughout the 1960s in the United Kingdom.
Red Ball Time – 3 hours
From the Beatles to Bowie Time – 2 hours
Total Time – 9 hours
Tags: Kelley · Museums
February 19th, 2010 · 2 Comments
A word of warning to all of those people who wish to do experiential learning whilst in Norwich – start early. Like many of the other people in Dickinson Humanities 310, I have been having an issue with organizations responding to me, let along promptly responding. So, with the clock ticking ominously in my ears, it was time to get a little bit creative. Instead of volunteering my time and free labor to the local festivals of Norwich and Norfolk like I was counting on (honestly, who doesn’t like fifteen-plus hours of free paper pushing, stuffing envelopes, and filing?), I had to think a bit further outside of the box. So far outside that it has pushed me into pubs… darn.
One of the festivals I am looking at for the research portion of the paper is the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Norwich Beer Festival. According to their website, this organization and festival promote “good-quality cask conditioned beers (commonly referred to as ‘real ale’), allied to traditional Brisith breweries and pubs.” However, what really caught my eye was their goal to support local pubs that serve not only real ale, but also invoke a sense of community.
Last night, I ventured out of my cosy flat and wandered the wet streets of Norwich. I had four main questions that I wanted to answer; 1) Does this pub serve real ales, as defined by CAMRA? 2) What imported beers/ales does this pub serve? 3) How traditional is the pub in decor? 4) What atmosphere does this pub give off? The three pubs I visited last night answered these questions very differently.
My first stop yesterday evening was to the Mischief Tavern. Of the three pubs I went to, this one was the most traditional. There were lit open fireplaces, a well-worn hard wooden floor, crooked staircases, and even a beautiful pressed tin roof with exposed roof timber beams running through it. It was spacious, yet cozy, with both large and small tables that added to the comfortable sense of community. Although there were a number of loud Americans running and dancing around the place, locals of all ages were enjoying a nice drink.
This pub served real ales, and even had a couple of signs promoting it, but you had to look carefully in order to see them. Much more obvious were the colorful and flashy logos of Budweiser, Heineken, and Tiger.
The second pub I went to was Delaney’s Irish Pub. Now, I know it seems slightly odd that in my quest for a traditional English pub serving traditional English ales, I went to an Irish pub. However, in my defense, other than a couple of Irish proverbs on the walls and the fact that they sold Guinness and Jameson, there was nothing remotely Irish about it. (In fact, I might even go so far as to say it was one of the least-Irish Irish pubs I have ever been to. I am slightly confused as to what exactly “Irish Tapas” is…) They did not sell any real ales and focused mainly on imports of Guinness, Fosters, and the like.
The pub did, however, have an odd sense of community about it. They had pictures of people who had been there previously taped to the underside of the staircase and giant games of Connect-Four and Jenga for patrons to play with. There were seperate high tables that could fit four or five chairs around them at most scattered just far enough away from each other to give the illusion of privacy, but still with the ability to draw another table into conversation.
The third and final pub from last night was the Belgian Monk. The Monk is more high-end, with imported fruity beers and a wonderful sit-down restaurant. The decor in the Monk includes posters in German, a library, and small tables with which to sip a frothy concoction of your choice. A large portion of the indoor tables are taken up by the restaurant, as opposed to the pub, and tend to attract a clientele that has a bit more money than your average college student.
The Belgian Monk is most certainly not a traditional English pub. Much like with the Irish pub, it might seem slightly odd that I am including it at all in my blog post. My reasoning is simple – all of the pubs I visited fill a niche in Norwich. The Belgian Monk is a restaurant, Delaney’s is an Irish pub, and the Mischief is a more traditional English pub. I know that from three pubs, I can’t conclude anything about CAMRA’s presence in Norwich. However, my next time out, I hope to come across more of the traditional English pubs in Norwich that CAMRA rightfully brags about.
Total time – 4 hours
Tags: Kelley · Pubs
September 14th, 2009 · No Comments
Although I have blogged, to some extent, about most academic things I have done in London, I feel that I have a better impression of most things now than I did at the beginning of the stay. Along this vein, I feel the need to revise, or just plain state, my opinions on the “Big Five” topics – parks, churches, museums, theatres, and pubs.
I have now been to five of the Royal Parks in London. Green Park, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, and St James’ Park are all very similar and yet very different in their own ways. I found Green Park, situated very close to Buckingham Palace, to have the most unfriendly atmosphere of the five. There is very little to Green Park. There are trees, benches, grass, the ever-popular lawn chairs for rent, and beautiful ornate gates facing Buckingham Palace. I think the reason I found the park so cold is that it was, well, too green. There were no flowers or water features (except for one fountain commemorating the Canadians), just trees, grass, and benches.
This is vastly different from the other four parks I visited. St James’ Park, Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, and Kensington Gardens all were beautifully landscaped with brightly colored flowers, clean fountains, scultpures, and natural or constructed water features. In Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, and Kensington Gardens it was easy to forget that you were in the middle of a pollution-filled city. As I am not much of a city person, it was extremely refreshing for me to not be able to hear or see traffic for a while. With Green Park and St James’ Park, I couldn’t shake that feeling. However, I am a firm believer that parks, whether or not they are within city limits, always make people feel healthier. For this reason and the sheer beauty that the parks portrayed in their different ways, I understand why I did not only see tourists, but the people of London as well.
Gates towards Buckingham Palace from Green Park
Churches and other places of worship are an integral part of societies throughout the world. Throughout our time in London, we have been fortunate enough to visit Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, a Sikh gurdwara, and a Hindu temple. Of these four I enjoyed St Paul’s Cathedral the most from a purely historical standpoint and the Hindu temple most from a cultural perspective. St. Paul’s is one of the most recognizable and interesting buildings in London. It not only houses some of the most important military remains in the country (the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Nelson), but it was one of the most iconic images of WWII Britain. I also found it to be less like a museum where I felt like hop-scotching around graves in the floor (Westminster Abbey) and much more like a place of worship.
I enjoyed the Hindu temple for very different reasons. Although there was a definite sense of it being a tourist attraction, with the gift shop in the lobby and the interpretive centre with tiny models of Hindu gods, the temple was still very obviously, well, a temple. Before going there, I had no idea what Hinduism was like. I knew that there are multiple gods and that one is an elephant, but I didn’t know about their dedication to peace and volunteer work. What really struck me about it was that the intricate carving and craftsmanship of the facility was all done by volunteers. I think that this cultural experience was only heightened by being able to observe a service in the sanctuary that was so unlike my own Roman Catholic faith.
St Paul's Cathedral - a symbol and a place of worship
I had very mixed experiences with museums in London. Some, like the Victoria and Albert, I just didn’t seem to understand in the amount of time I spent there. However, I think that if I went back and dedicated a day to the facility, I would appreciate how the seemingly-random exhibits link together much better. (I did enjoy the items on display in the V&A, I just had an issue with the layout of the museum.) Other museums, like the Museum of London and the Docklands Museum, were put together in a very fluid and informative manner that I enjoyed greatly. My two biggest museum issues were with the British Museum and Sir John Soane’s Home/Museum. Grace and I wrote extensively on our thoughts on the British Museum, so instead of repeating everything, I’ll just give a brief summary: why are all of these amazing artifacts that have no connection to Britain in the British Museum?
The Sir John Soane Museum is a completely different story. I appreciated that the museum was free and displayed an extremely eclectic collection, but please never make me go back there ever again! It was the single most claustrophobic place I have ever been in my entire life with possibly one exception. Call it a personal thing, I do not like it when random pieces of monuments are mounted on the ceiling directly above my head. I am also not a big fan of walking into a room in a house and having literally hundreds of sculpture eyes staring at me from every surface around me. I disliked it so much that I could not even finish going through it, and anyone who has been in a museum with me will know that I read and see as much as I possibly can. I don’t understand why that creepy building perfectly-suited to be a haunted house at Halloween is called a museum. (Please if you can attempt to explain it to me, go right ahead!)
Theatre is a subject I have talked about in a couple of different posts (Observations on Accessibility and Blood Painters and Pitmen Brothers), however, I have not discussed theatre in general. I was lucky enough to see Troilus and Cressida, All’s Well That Ends Well, Arcadia, The Pitmen Painters, and Blood Brothers. Each of these theatre experiences were extremely different, but all valuable in their own ways. Troilus and Cressidawas shown in the Globe Theatre and we had groundling tickets that forced us to stand for the 3 hour performance. The actual standing wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be, but the best thing about the show was being quite literally three-to-four feet away from the actors on stage. (Actually, it was slightly amusing when Hector died and was lying 3 feet away in our line of sight for the last 20 minutes of the play!) The staging of this Shakespearian play was vastly different to All’s Well That Ends Well, which was put on in the National Theatre. In the Globe, the sets are quite minimal because they have to perform four or five different shows on the same stage in the space of a few days. The set for All’s Well That Ends Well was much more elaborate and specialized for the show. Rather than the reliance on the actors and the costumes that the Globe used to tell you where the play was occurring, All’s Well That Ends Well used a dark set with elaborate staircases to add to the mood of characters and the dialogue.
Much like with Troilus and Cressida, the set for Arcadia was also pretty simple. Although the play took place in two different years, it was set in exactly the same room with almost all of the same props. This was a very effective way to stage the show and allowed for the writer, Tom Stoppard, to do some very interesting things with the characters from both time periods, like when he had them all in the room at the same time, oblivious to each other. I particularly enjoyed the way that this play was set and how basic it was. It was vastly different from the more complicated sets of The Pitmen Painters, which included projection screens, and Blood Brothers, which had lots of windows for the Devil/God character to peer creepily out of.
This final subject I have not blogged about at all. Pubs are an integral part of British culture. That said, pubs are also an integral part of Irish culture, so I experienced pub life when I lived in Ireland. British pubs and Irish pubs have a lot of similarities and differences. In both places, you must push viciously up to the bar in order to get your food and drink, you have to be 18 to have alcohol, smoking must be done outside, and there are usually way too many people in the pub for you to feel comfortable. Oh, and you always pay way more than you think you should for your drink. I’ve been to a couple of pubs in London and have found that they are all fairly similar. The bartenders are nice, but kind of frantic; the food is good, and usually relatively cheap; and the music is God-awful 1980s or techno playing at volumes that are way too loud. The first two are cohesive with pretty well every Irish pub I’ve ever been in, the third is not. Irish pubs play good music… or at least much better music than I’ve heard here! There are a lot of pubs that have a band playing traditional Irish music in front of you in the pub for pints and there are also a lot that play modern music at volumes that make my ears want to cry – but at least the music isn’t a Cher and Meatloaf duet accompanied with the weirdest music video I have ever seen in my entire life. (This particular musical masterpiece was played in The Court the other day. I never would have thought of that particular combination, but oooooookkkkkkkkkk.) Truth be told, I just want to find a comfortable pub with some good music and that will make me just as happy as George Orwell’s fictitious Moon Under Water.
Tags: Churches and Cathedrals · Kelley · Museums · Pubs · Theatre
September 13th, 2009 · No Comments
Throughout our time in London, we have been fortunate enough to go to a large variety of shows. Some of been concerts, including a stint at the Proms, a free Watch This Space African-fusion band, and the Phantasm piece we heard in the Church of Saint-Martin-in-the-Fields, but we have also seen Shakespearian plays, 20th century works, and now a musical. Despite all of these experiences, many of which I have blogged about previously, I think that the two most recent works we saw, The Pitmen Painters and Blood Brothers, have the most similarities and differences between them.
The first was the Pitmen Painters, a wonderful tale that explored the meaning of art and what art is to each and every individual. What I really enjoyed about this particular play was the brilliant characterization of the pitmen by both Lee Hall, the writer, and the actors. Through the progression of time, the characters managed to go from knowing practically nothing about art to appreciating the outlet that art is offering them in their daily lives. In one part of the play, Oliver has an epiphany that makes him realize that the art class he was taking could allow him to do bigger and brighter things outside of the small mining town he has lived in for his entire life. Despite the fact that nothing really ends up coming from this for Oliver, this realization, and his turning down of a possible patroness earlier in the play, come back to haunt him when he realizes what he could have been if his circumstances and social class had been different.
The second was Blood Brothers, a rather mediocre story that explored the lives of twin brothers separated at birth and how they grow up in very different social circumstances. The first main issue I had with Blood Brothers was that the sound was off the entire show. I have a music background and I adore musical theatre, so it really bugs me when a professional theatre puts on a show, let alone a musical, and the sound is off for the whole performance. That was one major strike against them. The second issue I had wasn’t as much with the performance of the show, but the show itself. Though I can tolerate her, I am not a big Marilyn Monroe fan. Why, oh why, was she a reoccurring theme of the show? There was not only a song titled Marilyn Monroe, but also three reprises attempting to tie the blond actress to the circumstances of the Johnston and Lyon families. If this musical was a paper being graded, the links between the families and Monroe would not stand up for any professor or high school teacher I have ever met.
Why, oh why, Marilyn Monroe???
The main thing that these two shows have in common (other than a character named Mr Lyons) is the exploration of problems between social classes. In the Pitmen Painters I got the sense that the miners want to take an art appreciation class in order to get an idea of what the higher classes spend their copious amount of time and money being patron to. This juxtaposition between the high class art and the working class pitmen is a reoccurring theme. Throughout the play the discomfort of the pitmenin noble homes and art galleries is evident because they feel that they are not worthy of being in these elegant spaces. Although the sentiment is similar in Blood Brothers, the comparison of social classes comes on a much different scale. From the beginning there is a clear-cut comparison between the dingy home of Mrs Johnston and all of her children with the elegant and cleanly-kept Lyons home. As the show progresses and Mickey and Eddie become the focus as young children, the lines between social classes are blurred slightly for them. Both Eddie and Mickey know that they aren’t supposed to go to the other’s part of the neighborhood, but they act as children do, playing games and going on adventures. By the end of the show, the divisions between the twins become even more evident. Mickey is laid off because of cuts at the factory, while Eddie brings home friends from college in order to have a massive New Year’s party. From this point on, social class is the most important factor in the show. In many ways, both boys end up dead in the end because of the constraints put on them by social class.
Tags: Kelley · Theatre
September 10th, 2009 · No Comments
I am a huge fan of classical music, so when I heard that we would have the opportunity to go to hear Sir Peter Maxwell Davies speak and attend the Proms, I was delighted! Sir Peter is one of the most prominent British composers alive. He has written hundreds of pieces and holds the title of Master of the Queen’s Music. (A purely ceremonial role that allows him to write music that requires a very large number of people to perform. After all, if the piece is being premiered before the Queen, who wouldn’t want to participate?) Despite all of Sir Peter’s many accomplishments, the thing that struck me most about his talk is how much he truly loves and appreciates music. He said in the discussion that “the future holds as much music as I can cram into it!”
A piece of music should be a journey that tells as simple or complex a story as the composer wishes. Although Sir Peter’s Violin Concerto No. 2 ‘Fiddler on the Shore’ was not my favorite piece of the evening, I greatly enjoyed the story of the piece. (Now, bare with me as this may read as a little bit far-fetched and listening slightly too much into the music.) I heard the soloist as being one person who was trying to find his path and was confused among the peaceful, smooth, soothing noises of the sea (orchestra). Throughout the piece, the soloist becomes much more certain of his path in life, and thus the playing of the violin by the soloist became much smoother, mimicking the “sea” orchestra of earlier. However, when this happens, the orchestra’s playing became much more violent and choppy, which caused the soloist to dive back into the confusion he experienced at the beginning of the piece. In the end, the soloist and the sea come together in peace. To me, the piece was a depiction of the soloist searching for clarity in the world.
There will never be complete peace and unity with a community. Unfortunately, the same is true for a religious group. There will always be arguments between the more orthodox members of the society and how they interpret scripture, rules, or messages, and the younger generation that was raised in a very different world from their predecessors. In some cases, these arguments lead to forward progress for the religion as a whole, for example with more equality for women or more opportunities for all members of the congregation. However, just as often if not more so, this can lead to divides and people leaving the faith altogether.
In many ways Sikhism and Hinduism are very similar. Both religions believe that shoes should be removed before entering the inner sanctum of the temple, that peace is a necessary force in life, that donations and charity will hold you in higher stead with the god(s), and that life is a journey to learn from. However, when observing the people at the Sikh and Hindu temples I discovered another thing that both religions prize – children. There was a definite sense that the children were learning to respect their religions from a very early age. In the Gurdwara I saw a little girl of about 4 tying a headscarf onto her squirming little brother. Obviously this girl had learned that in her faith, covering your head is necessary inside of the temple. In the Hindu temple, many young children went up to their parents to get change to offer to a particular deity in prayer.
The other thing that struck me as interesting was how the Sikhs and Hindus have adapted to being in the United Kingdom. Some changes are quite obvious, the Sikh men cannot carry their defensive swords due to British law. However, it is interesting to consider that some Sikhs have been forced to remove their head-covering or trim their facial hair due to the parameters of their jobs. The changes for the Hindus are not as obvious. It is, of course, possible that some Hindus have rejected the idea of obstaining from meat and fish since entering the UK, but that doesn’t seem to have the same direct correlation as with the Sikhs and their changes.
Although this blog post is supposed to focus mainly on the Sikh and Hindu religions, I would find it amiss if I did not mention problems and arguments within my own faith. I stated at the beginning of the post that all religions have problems, but sometimes the butting-of-heads between the younger generations and those who are more set in their ways can end in forward progress. I’m a practicing Roman Catholic and I know that my religion is not perfect. However, I think that the stubbornness of those people who are high up in the Catholic hierarchy on the issues of married priests, female priests, homosexuality, etc. are going to cause the faith I believe in to crash and burn in the future. (Can you tell I’m liberal?)
In many ways, this links directly to the Sikhs and the Hindus. Both are being forced to adapt to their surroundings, both religiously and culturally, in Britain; some as second-generation immigrants who believe in their religion to a degree and others as die-hard orthodox followers. In order for their religion continue to have forward progress, these people need to sort out their differences long enough to come to a consensus. I hope my Church will do that too.
We were asked in class yesterday to think about the relationships between the literature we read and the Sikh gurdwara we visited. Although this was discussed heavily in class yesterday, I think that the sense of being ‘with your own’ is greatly prevalent.
Arranged marriage is common in many religions throughout the world, whether or not you believe in the long-standing practice. Personally, I think that it depends on the individual and the upbringing of that individual to determine if arrange marriage is a good idea. To me, arranged marriage is very class-based, much like what we have seen around London in architecture and behaviors. However, it is important to consider that up until the last few hundred years, Western society was as good as arranging marriages for its members. For those who have read 19th Century literature, there was a large emphasis on class and upward mobility through marriage. You did not marry someone who was deemed to be socially unacceptable by your class, and most certainly did not marry down (unless in the unlikely circumstance of love). I guess that I see this class-based relationship as a type of arranged marriage, or certainly as a limiter for people who are acceptable. However, I think that it is important to draw attention to the fact that this still happens today. I know that many parents would like nothing more than to see their son or daughter marry someone of their faith, race, social class, and cultural background. This same idea, that people shouldstick with their own kind, resonates in Mr Ali in Salaam Brick Lane and the marriage of Archie and Clara in White Teeth.
It was the Sikh gurdwara that really brought the message home for me. Yes, they were very accepting of us. Yes, they fed us. Yes, they treated us very well. Yes, I felt slightly uncomfortable at times in the gurdwara whilst being engulfed in chants in unknown languages, unfamiliar architecture, and, to me, unusual customs. The Sikhs believe in equality, so it seems slightly strange to my Western-raised mind that they would wish to participate in an arranged marriage. I know that I’ve only had a very brief education into the ways that Sikhism works, but despite being so welcoming to peoples of all faiths, races, and cultures, it strikes me as odd that the Sikhs would be so intent on only marrying one of their own kind. I guess it just goes back to the idea of keeping ‘with your own’.
September 2nd, 2009 · 3 Comments
One thing that I have been noticing a lot about London is the accessibility and services available for people who are disabled or handicapped in some way. Much like what you would tend to expect from American cities, there are handicap accessible entrances, ramps, elevators, and automatic doors leading to many of the major museums and tourist attractions around London. However, I have observed less-than-wonderful wheelchair-friendly services in the Tube stations.
Looking at the Underground map, there are only 9 stations within Zone 1 that have step-free access from the platforms to the outside world. Now, I grant that the map shows that the bigger stations or those with rail stations attached tend to have wheelchair accessible facilities, but there are still a number of problems. First, there’s the gap to mind, which while it is not beneficial to the elderly or buggy-pushers, seems to be a very large potential problem for people in wheelchairs and using crutches to get over. Secondly, with the current construction projects occurring at many of the major Tube stations, some facilities that would normally be easier to maneuver around are currently out of order. The only saving grace of the transport system for those movement-impaired seems to be the bus system. From what I have noticed of the buses, the majority of them are fitted with a hydraulic system that either allows the bus to be lowered curbside or a platform for a wheelchair.
Despite my criticisms of the Tube as a vehicle of transport for people in wheelchairs, London has managed to greatly surprise me in the leaps-and-bounds of services for other handicapped peoples. When I was at the British Museum the other day, I noticed a sign that mentioned that there is a Touch Tour for people who are blind or visually impaired. I’ve never encountered anything like this before, but think that it is a brilliant idea! This tour allows them to touch specific objects in certain sections of the Museum in order to get an idea of what the art from that culture “looks” like. Accompanying these objects were plaques in Braille explaining the object they were “looking” at.
Scarab from the Egyptian section of the Museum - on the Touch TourSign for the Blind Touch Tour
I was struck again by the services provided for disabled/hard-of-hearing peoples tonight at the performance of All’s Well That Ends Well at the National Theatre. One of the last things I was expecting when I entered the theatre was to have a closed captioning screen for the play! Despite this service being aimed at those deaf/hard-of-hearing people, I benefited greatly from being able to see some of the dialogue I missed either by zoning out or simply not being able to hear. Although I did find the screens slightly distracting at times, I think that it was a brilliant idea that should be implemented at many more theatres in the world.
Overall, I am finding London to be a very mixed city of accessibility and services for people who are disabled or handicapped in some way. I think that the Tube stations need some work, but as construction is constantly being done on them, I know that they will be improved upon eventually. On the other hand, I think that the Touch Tour and the closed captioning in the theatre were both wonderful ideas that should be implemented in the States and around the world if they haven’t already. Any thoughts or observations on services and accessibility?