Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich


September 19, 2010 · 1 Comment

Note: much of the following appears, verbatim, in this Thursday’s Dickinsonian. The formatless-format is explained there, but the manner in which it is done there is incongruous with this blog.

As our syllabus eloquently says, “London is too vast—as both a place and an idea—to grasp it all.” Conveniently, it’s more my style anyway to tell a few short anecdotes and leave it to the reader to weave them together rather than give one lengthy narrative.

That said, here are a few random moments that I’ll remember well after we’re back in the states.

On a subway ride back from Westminster one Sunday, a large man wearing a suit and tie (although his collar was covered in food) came up ranting and raving to our group of four Americans. “That guy sitting next to me over there was [fondling] his girlfriend! I don’t care if you do it a hundred times at home, but not on the f**king Tube! I AM TRYING TO CONCENTRATE!” It should be noted that this man, allegedly deep in concentration, was not reading, working, or listening to music. He was simply “trying to concentrate.” At first, I found this hilarious. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it articulated the philosophy of the stoic and silent Brits we see every day on the Tube. Many do not read, many do not listen to music. But all do not speak to or make eye contact with each other. They’re just trying to concentrate.

British women, or at least women in London, are really tall.

We’ve taken all kinds of tours. We’ve toured places: Westminster Abbey, St. Paul Cathedral, the University of Oxford, Greenwich, Bloomsbury, the East End, and Stratford. We’ve done tours with themes: Marx’s London, Roman London, Restoration London. As Pat put it, though, “I’d like to take a trash cans, bathrooms, and water fountains tour, as there are none of those things in this city.” You can walk for miles in Westminster and not see a single trash can; they have all been removed from the area around Parliament and the prime minister’s residence because of susceptibility to terrorist attacks.

Things in London close very early by American standards. Most restaurants outside of Burger King and McDonald’s are closed by 9:00 (or, as it’s known here, 21:00) and earlier on Sundays. So it was a major pleasant surprise when a few of us found a Subway that was open nightly until 5:00 AM. But it was extremely bewildering? Why this Subway, when four more from the same chain within two miles close around the usual London time?

This mystery was solved when it was realized that there was a strip club across the street that was open until 4:00 AM nightly.

Categories: 2010 Dennis · Uncategorized

1 response so far ↓

  •   patrickmr // Sep 21st 2010 at 04:47

    Am I right? I’m constantly perplexed by the cleanliness of this city, seeing as public utilities are so lacking. We did, however, run into a public urinal in the West End the other night- it’s simply a metal cylinder with three little alcoves for doing one’s business. Not a whole lot of privacy, but I guess it’s better than going right ahead on the back wall of the Apollo.

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