Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Entries Tagged as 'Rebecca'

The Farmhouse: Where we didn’t blow!

May 21st, 2010 · No Comments

Tonight we went to The Farmhouse (farmhouse-norwich.co.uk) on Colman rd. for their weekly Thursday night pub quiz. This pub, unlike all the others I went to on my pub quiz quest, is far from off the beaten track as it sits on the corner of two major roads and is on the 25 bus route (I am sure every Dickinson student knows which pub I am talking about). Consequently, many people were at the quiz as many people can see the sign advertising the quiz outside the pub every week. This also drew in a diverse age range of contestants.

Like the first two quizzes, the Farmhouse pub quiz cost a pound per person to enter. There were 3 normal rounds, a paper round, and a surprise bonus round. We did rather well on the paper round (it was a list of 6 letter words with the first three letters missing and you had to figure out what each word was), we got all but one answer correct (we didn’t get emb-ryo). The three normal rounds were a quite a bit more challenging as they were all pop culture questions and did not include any other subjects. Fortunately my teammates proved to know a lot more about pop culture than I did, and we didn’t do too badly. The final surprise round consisted of a bubble blowing contest; each team selected one team member to go up to the bar and attempt to blow 3 bubbles. I was selected to blow the bubbles for my team and I used my three tries to blow the largest bubble as the quiz master made all sorts of jokes about my ability to give a good ‘blow’… it was hard to focus on blowing bubbles and not to laugh. At the beginning it seemed as though I was going to win, but at the last minute the last competitor (who obviously had a LOT more gum in his mouth than the amount allotted for the contest) blew a massive bubble and I was knocked down to second place.

Overall in this pub quiz we did not suck or rather ‘blow’ but actually did pretty well. Like all the other quizzes, this quiz had a unique aspect that drew in the customers and kept them coming back. The Farmhouse had a prime location, a very kind staff that had quite a few jokes up their sleeves, and a unique bubble blowing round that set it apart from all competing quizzes.

Tags: Rebecca

The Beehive: where we Americans were a not so welcome novelty!

May 20th, 2010 · No Comments

Yesterday a large group of 8 Dickinson students, an English friend, and I headed over to The Beehive pub (www.beehivepubnorwich.co.uk), just off Colman Rd. After waiting for the bus for a half hour we gave up and decided to walk to the pub. We got there five minutes till the quiz was supposed to start and were happy to find that the pub was quite crowded! We split into two teams and struggled to find tables and seats.

Finally! A half hour later the pub quiz started! The first round was rather simple and a lot easier than all the other pub quizzes I had been to. The second round was a picture round where there were pictures from films with the actors’ heads missing and you had to guess what film it was from. The last round was a bit more challenging than the first round but was still quite a bit easier than the other quizzes this week. Most of the questions in the first and third round were a nice balance of general knowledge questions: some being on history, geography, and literature with a few pop culture questions here and there. This did not give any group or age group an advantage. However, there were quiet a few “American” questions that were certainly in our favor.

The quiz master was happily surprised to find that there were two teams of Americans in the quiz yesterday. He was curious where all of us were from and surprisingly knew quite a bit more about each city and town than one would expect. He even knew the capitols of every state (impressive considering my flatmates thought New Orleans and Philadelphia were states!). He apparently teaches a ‘football’ (not sure if he was referring to American football or English ‘football) camp in the United States and had traveled around quite a bit.  We were fine with him asking us questions about the US however, he may have crossed the line when he announced to the entire pub that there were two teams of Americans present at the pub quiz. Every time an American question came up he announced that it was in our favor, and this did NOT make us popular with the other teams! There were numerous indistinguishable grumbles and jokes starting or ending with “those Yanks”. We had invaded THEIR territory and we had better not win!

Fortunately we did not win (neither team did) but fell somewhere in the middle. If we had won I don’t think the locals would have taken too kindly to us and may have kicked us all out on our bums (refraining from using a more appropriate but profane word). If you want to be thought of as a novelty, feel completely out of place, get put on the spot, and receive numerous evil glares this is the pub quiz for you fellow Americans! In all of the months that I have been in this country never have I felt like such an outsider/invader!

Tags: Rebecca

The Rose Tavern: They give you sweets!

May 18th, 2010 · No Comments

Tonight Kim, Sarah, and I went to another pub quiz in the Norwich city center. The Rose Tavern (rosetavern.co.uk) was a bit off the beaten path and was a real local’s pub! The drink prices, though it was not far from Unthank Rd. or the St. Stephens St. bus stop, reflected its obscurity. When we first arrived I was happy to find that the pub was already quite a bit fuller than the Micawbers Tavern. It was also quite a bit larger and had a larger age range of customers.

I soon discovered that the Rose Tavern is the place to go in Norwich for pub quizzes! In fact, their quizzes are so popular that they have a quiz night every Sunday and Tuesday night, while most pubs only have one once a week or once a month. Tonight there were 40 people, and according to the pub masters (yes they have 2) “it was a quiet night”. Apparently, their Sunday quizzes are often quite a bit larger, with well over 50 guests. Why is it so popular? As my above title suggests, they give you sweets! Every team that participates in the pub quiz, whether they come in last place (like us) or first (first place also gets drink vouchers), gets a bag of sweeties at the end of the quiz! This gives makes everyone feel like a winner and motivates those who are losing miserably to stick around a bit later (potentially buying a few more drinks of course!) This also reflects the English compulsion to cheer for the underdog!

As I said above, overall we didn’t fair too well points wise. Many of the questions were either too English (we don’t watch the East Enders or Rugby) or too manly for us three girls (there was an entire section on planes, trains, and automobiles after the current events round that included a lot of sports questions). However, the team judging us (a young couple) took pity on us and gave us a couple more points than we deserved (again cheering for the underdog). During the quiz many of the ‘usuals’ had a good time ‘taking the piss out’ of the quiz masters, challenging his answers left and right and screaming out the ‘correct’ pronunciations of words and names.  I highly doubt such rowdiness would be socially acceptable in many other English social atmospheres.

After the quiz I spoke to the two rather attractive and young quiz masters about their experiences running quizzes. I asked them how they got so many people to turn up and they said that they took a look at the prizes distributed at other pub quizzes in Norwich and topped them with their numerous sweets and generous drink vouchers. Unlike the last quiz master, they seemed to be a bit more entrepreneurial (as well as younger) and were into it not just for the fun but also for the money. They told me that though two loyal teams tend to battle it out on Tuesdays, Sundays were a bit more up in the air and weren’t consistently any one team. They also explained to me that some people take their quizzes quite seriously and create teams that go from pub quiz to pub quiz throughout the week competing, and these individuals sometimes even compete in National competitions. Last week I would have thought this a bit odd, but after two this week I can see how they could become addicting! Our team left the quiz with a sense of satisfaction, for those questions we did answer correctly, and a bag of sweets in hand! We also enjoyed getting out into the community, supporting a local business, and the company of friends; what more could be better? Ok winning would be nice… but that’s not what pub quizzes are really about!

Tags: Pubs · Rebecca

My first pub quiz in the Norwich city center… or shall we say ‘centre’

May 16th, 2010 · No Comments

Today some friends and I went to the Sunday night pub quiz at the Micawbers Tavern (www.micawberstavern.com) on Pottergate, up the street from the Bird Cage. None of us had ever been to, or even seen, this pub. We arrived at 7:30 anticipating a crowd of people ready to participate, however there were only 3 people there when we arrived and one of them was the barman. Despite this I courageously walked up to the bar asked about the quiz and explained my project to the barman. I was told that there would, in fact, be a quiz if more than 12 people showed up to participate. Unfortunately, at the bar I was also met by and old ‘friend’, a older man I had met at another pub months ago who took a particular interest in me being that I was American and a “pretty girl”. After listening to his racial slurs and tales about his time in America in 1976, I slowly shifted my way back to the table.

My friends and I briefly discussed the effect that the recession had on pubs. My English friend said that before the recession many pubs exclusively served beer and that pub quizzes weren’t as common. However, he said the recession and pressure from chain pubs like Weatherspoons forced them to try and stay afloat by adding food menus and quiz nights. Pub quizzes are often held on slow nights of the week, like Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and they are meant to bring in business that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

Soon after completing our discussion some more people arrived for the quiz and the barman was kind enough to introduce me to them, making my job of approaching the standoffish Englishmen a LOT easier! He introduced them to me as the team that almost always wins, alternating with one other loyal team. These two older men have attended the pub quiz at Micawbers Tavern and have attended pub quizzes in general off and on for they couldn’t remember how long. They told me that before they started going to Micawbers for the pub quiz they attended the pub quiz at the Rose Tavern, which I will be going to later this week, and they said that it had become too repetitive and that the quiz master got all the questions offline. They said that the Micawbers pub quiz was more interesting and more of a challenge than others they had been to. I thanked them for their information and wished them luck in the quiz and went back to the table.

I was soon approached by a member of another team, after dodging my old ‘friend’ as he tried caressing of my hair (EEK!). This women said she and her friends had just left the Rose pub (not to be confused with the Rose Tavern) and came to the Micawbers Tavern for a quiz that they liked more. She said that the Rose played too many new songs and that she and her friends weren’t good at naming songs before 2000. This was when we realized that we were not the target age group of the Micawbers quiz and that we would probably do miserably.

As she left the table the quiz master came to collect our money (one pound per person) and to distribute the answer sheet and picture round sheet. We immediately noticed that though we may not fair very well during the quiz, we would at least be entertained by our humorous quiz master. He was obviously not there for the extra money, but he instead really enjoyed being a quiz master.

We did quite well on the picture round of the quiz (they were pictures of Disney characters), however it went downhill from there. There was a brief moment of satisfaction when he listed 5 literature questions in the second round (two of which were dealing with 19th century writing, the period I am studying in one of my classes this semester). In the picture round and the first two rounds we got 25/60 points (2 points for each correct answer and one point if half the answer was right). Then the fourth round was the music round… and that did not go so well! We got 3/20 points on that round and were way behind our older competitors. The fourth and last round was unlike any round I have played at the Union pub quiz, it was a cryptic puzzle round where questions 1-9 hinted at the answer to number ten. The second question was “the name of the American Arizona football team and the St. Lewis baseball team are the same, what is the abbreviated nickname for a player on either team?” I was sooo happy I had watched the playoffs last year and knew that the nickname for player on the cardinals was a ‘card’. Another question asked for the name of a fish in the ray family and I guessed ‘skate’. By the time we got to question 10 we had no idea what these words had in common, the quiz master tried helping us out a bit because we were new but it was hopeless, we had no idea. We later found out that the answer to question 10 was “board” because each answer became another word when ‘board’ was added on the end, so there was ‘cardboard’, ‘skateboard’, ‘scoreboard’, and etc. I thought this round was incredibly clever and perfectly demonstrated the English fascination with words and puns.

After the quiz the quiz master approached us and told us he was also going around to a bunch of quizzes and writing a review of them in a local paper. I found this quite interesting and asked him what he had learned so far, he described one of the places he had been to  and explained its good points and its bad points. I asked him how long he had been a quiz master and he said about 4 years and that he got into it when there was a change of ‘landlords’ and his friend, who was related to the person buying Micawbers Tavern, recommending him for the job.

Overall, I really enjoyed this pub quiz, even though our team came in last place. The Quiz master had us in stitches all night and I really liked the last round once it made sense to me. I would go back again, especially if my parents were able to come and visit.

Tags: Pubs · Rebecca

The Sir John Soane Museum in Comparison to other London Museums

September 19th, 2009 · 4 Comments

The Sir John Soane Museum was the last thing I was able to squeeze in before leaving for Norwich. The museum was interesting, however I do not think it was very educational. It was essentially just peering in on Sir John’s house and his collection, but there were very few signs telling the museumgoer about the relics that were scattered around the house. The architecture was amazing as was the collection, and like most of my classmates I would love to live there if it were not so narrow in parts of the house. However, I do not see its relevance to the course. Why Professor Qualls did you choose to throw it onto our list? I am having a hard time saying anything about the museum because I do not see how it fits into the theme for this class. Honestly, I have learned more from the museum’s website than I did in the actual museum. The website has the entire collection on it with blurbs about the history of each piece. However, unlike most other museums the website does not display a mission statement or any of the museums goals. I believe that every museum should have a mission statement. This makes helps the curators organize exhibits, artifacts, and information panels. With out a strong goal relics are just crammed together, like in the V&A, or there is very minimal educational material, like the Sir John Soane Museum.
I never thought of myself as particularly interested in museum studies, but after visiting all these museums I can see what foundations need to be there for a museum to work. Out of all the museums we visited I feel that the Docklands museum did the best job in presenting and preserving its artifacts and its history while doing a great job educating its visitors. The museum has a clear goal: to educate the public on the history of the docklands. It also has a clear pathway that one can choose to fallow at their own pace, while the British museum had no path way and tended to get very congested at various parts of the exhibits. These large crowds of people greatly affect the safety of the artifacts that the museum is trying to preserve. People should not be allowed to touch, feel, hug, and take pictures of ancient Egyptian sculptures. These crowds are also not good for the safety and education of the museumgoer. Old women or men should not have to be pushed around to have a glance at the mommies, and one should be able to easily see and read the information panels next to the relics if they choose to do so. At least The Sir John Soane museum limited the number of people in the museum at one time in order to protect the artifacts and the people (as it would probably be a fire hazard for too many people to crowd into that building). Maybe the British museum can look to the Soane museum for advice and limit the number of people in the mummy room at one time and increase security. While perhaps the Sir John Soane museum can fallow the British museum’s model and provide more information on the artifacts within the house.

Tags: Rebecca

London Pubs and Pub Culture

September 18th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Being that I was a part of the group responsible for doing the Pubs walking tour, I got to see a lot of pubs while in London. Some of them were big some of them small, some new and some old. However, all of them had a large and often loyal clientele.
One of the things that I feel makes the pub culture so strong in the U.K., in comparison to the U.S. and many other countries is the fact that EVERYTHING except the pubs close before 8 pm (6 pm in Norwich). Nightclubs are also open past 8 pm, however since coming here I have learned that most Brits cannot dance. What does one do after 8 pm if they are bored and wanting to socialize with friends? The only thing there is to do: go to the local pub. If one is craving a bite to eat past 8 pm, pubs are some of the few places still left open. From a visitor’s perspective I often find myself wondering why things cannot be open later. Yet, I can see why this might be nice from a resident’s perspective. If I lived in London I would be very happy to never have to work the late shift at work, and to be able to leave work by 8 and head off to meet my friends at the local pub so I could grab a meal and unwind after a day at work. The real truth is that Americans work too much, are too uptight, and need to live their lives more like the Brits or the Europeans. This maybe far fetched, but I believe that drinking in bars and pubs is looked down upon in the states partially because it is associated with laziness and carelessness. No matter how much it annoys me that nothing in Great Britain is open late I realize that it is better for the welfare of the people. In fact, many of the pubs I visited were filled with people who had just left work and walked to the nearest pubs with their coworkers and friends. The Viaduct Tavern, on Viaduct Holburn, was always filled to the brim with the bankers and lawyers that worked in the area, so that when you approach the pub after 5 pm all you can see is a huge crowd of people all wearing suits.
Another thing I found interesting was how the selection of drinks and how the selection was displayed varied from pub to pub depending on their clientele. Pubs that were in tourist areas tended to have more mixed drinks like with names like “Sex on the Beach” and “The Slow Kiss”. These pubs also had the lists of their drinks in a menu or written on the wall. The tourist’s pub also has music, a jukebox, pool tables, and/or electronic games. The more traditional pub and those that severed the locals more than tourists had ales, lagers, ciders, and liqueur but no drink menu and no mixed drinks. In pubs like these the price of the drink you are buying is always a surprise until they ring you up. Also, some of the older traditional pubs have no music, no pool tables, and no games. These differences show how tourism has influenced the London pub culture. I hope to explore the more authentic British Pub more while I am in Norwich.

Tags: Rebecca

The British Museum: Why I Want to be Cremated

September 14th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Yesterday I had a absolutely HORRIBLE experience at the British Museum.

It started off ok, as soon as I entered I got a map and began walking through some of the exhibits. I began my adventure in the Living and Dying Exhibit. I then began to climb up the stairs and headed into the Chinese Ceramics Exhibit. As someone who has practiced throwing pottery for seven years, I have a GREAT respect for ceramic technique and craftsmanship. However, I was not pleased with the woman who had answered her phone in the middle of the exhibit and was having a VERY loud discussion on her mobile. This irked me but what happened next sent me over the edge. After looking at the ceramics I went to the Mummy room. The room was packed with people and screaming children (not that I could blame them because I also felt like screaming). As I began to walk around the room in effort to see the mummies and read the panels next to them people, people were bumping me and pushing me out of the way to take touristy pictures with the sarcophagi. This completely disgusted me; these people have absolutely no respect for museums, the dead, history, nor their fellow museum goers. When my corpse is hundreds of years old I do not want it to be on display for people to take pictures with while they hold their thumbs high in the air. If I were those Egyptian pharaohs, commoners, etc. I would haunt those fools. By the time I left the room I felt as though I was going to have a panic attack: my heart was pounding, my head spinning, I could not focus on anything, and I was beginning to regret the coffee I had right before. The rest of the museum is a bit of a blur, I vaguely remember seeing people leaning on ancient statues. Most of the time I was at the museum I felt as though I was heading against the crowd. The only thing that I distinctly remember after that was almost getting run over by a large group of Asian tourists on my way out the door.

Something needs to be done to the layout and the security of these exhibits to improve the safety of visitors and of the artifacts the museum houses. Photography should not be permitted on the premises and a walking path should be constructed (especially in the Mummy room) to make it smoother and easier for every visitor to see and appreciate the artifacts. The use of mobiles in the museum should be restricted and enforced. There should also be more security protecting the statues and patrolling the area. I would not mind paying an entrance fee to the museum if it meant the museum would change these things.

Tags: Rebecca

A Marxist View of the Pitmen Painters

September 11th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Yesterday we all went to the Pitmen Painters at the National Theater. I greatly enjoyed the show however I found it sad, yet sadly true. The story is about five Pitmen who are able to take an art appreciation class thanks to the WEA (workers education association). Their teacher, Mr Lyons, soon realizes that the Pitmen know nothing about art and decides to have them learn through painting their own works. As the Pitmen progress they catch the eye of heiress  and art enthusiast Helen Sutherland. Helen buys some of their paintings and is at first astounded by the honesty in their works. She also attempts to pay Oliver, one of the pitmen, a weekly wage so he can paint without the interference of his pitmen work. Eventually Helen grows bored with Oliver’s work and moves on.

Helen claims that she and Oliver met across the boundaries of class, but I really find this to be untrue. I think that Helen only appreciated the Pitmen’s art because it was a commodity for her. She wanted to OWN Oliver and his work like she would any other commodity. And just like with any other commodity she soon grows bored with him and moves on to other more trendy things.

During the scene of the Pitmen’s first art show everyone, including Lyons, is refering to the Pitmen as Pitmen who can paint, rather than as individual artists. The only reason the Pitmen became popular was because they were working class not because they were talented (though they were). Lyons was selling the work of these working class men by making the fact that they were working class a commodity, and therefore made them a novelty. In a way, he advertised them like monkeys in a cage at the zoo or as some sort of side show act “come see the Pitmen Painters! Have you ever seen anything like them? See the working class does have talent! Unbelievable! Anyone can paint!” And of course the public gets tired of the same circus act and they move on. So, the Pitmen are left the way they were before. Lyons left them, Helen left them, and their popularity left them.

I also feel that Lyons used the Pitmen for his own gain, almost like “look what I got these monkeys to do! I could teach anyone, why don’t you hire me?” At one point in the play Oliver asks Lyons “why can’t I live like this? Why couldn’t this be me?” he also says “we are both mediocre artists, why can I be in the place you are?” (Note: not direct quotations, but something very similar) And the reason is of course class. The bourgeoisie is forever exploiting the proletariat, and the proletariat is forever being held down by the bourgeoisie. It is only after the painting class that Oliver is finally able to eliminate his false consciousness and see what was going on the whole time, just to be put back in the same place he was before when Lyons says “well if you want the world to change, you will have to change it.” I love Marxism but I don’t think that the proletariat has the resources to overthrow the bourgeoisie, because part of what makes the proletariat the proletariat is their false consciousness and their inability to get past the glass ceiling. In order for the proletariat to aquire such knowledge would be for them to rise into the bourgeo themselves, which would not stop the problem but rather perpetuate it. This is would be impossible in a place like Britain in the 1930s, where and when the class devisions where so impossibly strong, and as they still are to some extent.

Tags: Rebecca

Education in the UK and the US

September 9th, 2009 · 5 Comments

Last night I went to hear the conductor, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, speak on his life as a composer, conductor, and teacher. I really enjoyed what I heard of his speech, he was a very passionate and witty man, however as an education minor I greatly disagreed with some of what he said. When he got to talking about education he said that educators should not underestimate students and that “people like to be challenged” and that students should not be talked down to because “they are not stupid”. This I agree with students deserve to be challenged because if a teacher set the bar high then they will learn more than if you expect little of them. However, he then goes on to say that he believes that government officials make decisions regarding education so student “remain ignorant in a state of mind where they cannot criticize the government, where they have not got any qualifications”. I feel that at least in America things are FAR more complex than this. There are so many more factors in the quality of education in public schools (Note: I am using public school in the American way). The reason public schools, especially urban public schools, do not do as well as suburban and private schools is because the high quality teachers want to go where they will get paid the most and have the fewest problems. Urban public schools do not pay as much as private schools and often have more disciplinary problems. This and White Flight combine to drag down the public school systems in both the United States and England, it is not simply the government holding down the proletariat.

He later says that he does not understand why schools have stopped teaching Latin and Shakespeare, because he feels that students are fully capable of learning them (however I cannot find the direct quotation in the link). I do not believe that Latin is being taken off school curriculum is because they don’t feel that students are able to learn it, but rather because it has become obsolete. One of the readings that I had in my Kaleidoscope education book (I really wish I had it with me) specifically talked about this issue. The article in the book was an abstract story that told about a caveman-like society, within the story the elders wanted the youngsters to learn about the certain extinct animals and how to kill them rather than teach them how to kill the animals that they would encounter in everyday life. This article, though abstract, is specifically talking about subjects like Latin in the modern education system. How often is an American or British student going to encounter Latin? Now how often are they going to encounter Spanish or French in their lifetimes? Obviously Spanish and French are much more useful than Latin or Ancient Greek, so the school district decides to cut Latin and add a French department. The school district does not do this simply because they do not think the students are capable of learning Latin, as Sir Peter Maxwell Davies suggests, but rather because it is becoming extinct and there are more useful things to be taught.

Overall, I enjoyed Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ speech however I found that he oversimplified many major educational issues that are very important to me. So, I felt it necessary to set the record straight and blog about eduction here and in the US, as we do face many of the very same problems.

If you would like to listen to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ speak on education and his life here is a link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00mj5xs

Tags: Rebecca

Hinduism and Sikhism in the British Society

September 7th, 2009 · 2 Comments

What I have gathered from visiting both the Hindu temple and the Sikh gudwara is that Sikhism is all about the equality of people from all classes, races, genders, and backgrounds, while Hinduism is founded on the idea of the jati, or caste system. Also, in the practice of the Sikh faith there are very little rituals and very few gaudy symbols, while Hindus use numerous rituals and symbols in their worshiping practices.

In most ways it is more difficult for Sikhs to adjust into British culture than it is for Hindus. With their five Ks, or the five physical symbols that Sikhs have to symbolize their faith, the Sikhs stand out a lot more than the Hindus. Since 9/11 and 7/7 there has been a lot of hostility toward South Asian individuals who wear turbans and have long beards, since then ignorant individuals have tormented Sikhs because they associate them with terrorist activities. Also, some work places do not permit their employees to have unshaven faces and uncut hair. Living in England also forces the Sikhs into a unequal class society that is not compatible with the Sikh’s belief in equality.

Hindus have an easier time adjusting to the British culture because they do not have any spacific visual keys to thier religion that could create a social backlash or hostility. They also have a strong understanding of the British class devisions because of their understanding of their own caste system. However, the fact that Hinduism is a polythisit religion might create some agressive actions from the primarily Christian British society.

Tags: Rebecca