Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

"It costs 1.50 to sit in these chairs"

August 26, 2009 · 1 Comment

Despite the rain today, I was pretty pumped about going to Westminster Abbey. But now as I reflect this evening, I am really disappointed. The experience reminded me of visiting St. Peter’s Basilica when I was a sophomore in college; gaudy and excessive.

Westminster Exterior

Westminster Exterior

 I’m not really sure what I was expecting, maybe something more to do with religion than money. But I am quickly learning that the hokey pokey isn’t what its all about anymore. It’s about money. Audrey and I talked a lot about this and we are of similar thinking. When did this sacred place where monks once walked the halls in silent prayer and devotion to God become an elaborate tourist attraction? Don’t get me wrong though. I really loved learning about the history and the importance of the Abbey as a historical site. But that’s just it: it reminded me of a beautiful museum rather than a house of worship. Ultimately, I left today with a sense mostly of frustration.

After the tour of Westminster Abbey, a bunch of us headed to grab some lunch before heading over to St. Jame’s park. We walked into a tiny sandwich shop that offered us the option to eat in or take it. In the States, mostly we would eat in and not expect to be charged more for seating; just the food and the tip. We learned though, that if you eat in you are charged almost 3 pounds extra. Again, I wonder if we are all just charging extra just because we can, or not. Though this seems insignificant, I think my point ties in to the overarching theme that money has the power to dictate an experience, to change it for better or for worse.

Again, though I know others have blogged about this story, this same group I was with headed to St. James’ park to relax and enjoy the sweet outdoors whilst munching on our delicious sandwiches. We plopped ourselves down into some vacant seats and happily discussed the morning at the Abbey. Then a man walks over and tells us that we need to pay in these seats. Now really? I am still indignant to this very moment as you can tell. We are sitting outside, enjoying a brief moment of sunshine, and we have to pay? Instead of leaving, most of us hastened to sit on the grass and abandon our chairs. I don’t understand how a public park would charge you to sit. That’s like charging someone to walk on the street or, dare i say it, sit inside a restaurant and eat. Apparently money can’t by happiness, but it can buy you comfortable seats in park, in a restaurant, and an entry into an Abbey.

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1 response so far ↓

  •   russella // Aug 26th 2009 at 19:56

    This needs to be categorized firstly. Not only does money dictate an experience, but it affects the other side too; i don’t think there is anything more depressing(and yet amazing) than watching as capitalism seeps into even the most (allegedly) sacred places in London. What’s left of the poly sci major in me doesn’t think it’s really bad though; all it is, is supply and demand. Economists don’t use adjectives frequently for a reason, ha ha ha ha.

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