Saturday, September 20, 2008

Surprisingly Quiet

I think it's a rather sad commentary on my creativity that I have been in the U.K. for over a week now, and I can't think of anything interesting to write in my blog. Or my journal. Journaling lasted exactly one day, and that day consisted of bullet points.

In part, I think this is what happens when you travel to work rather than play. I spent a day or two clearing up communications issues--bought a new cell phone w/world SIM card, got my computer set up on the wireless network at the house, got my British Library reader's pass, bought an Oyster/Travel Card so I could use the tube to go into the city every day. After those exciting problems were easily and swiftly resolved, I just slipped into a regular work schedule: up in the a.m., eat an apple on the way to the station, sit on the train for 30 minutes, get off the train, sort my stuff into a locker at the British library, work for several hours, eat lunch, work more hours, take a break for a cup of coffee and a quick phone call to Catherine, work another hour, pick my stuff up out of my locker, sit on the train for 20 minutes, walk home from the station. In the few evenings I've been here, I've spent them: talking to Catherine via webcam, watching television, walking to the supermarket, and eating dinner.

There is very little excitement in the daily schedule of the working life.

I think it's just possible that I've now spent enough time in London that what once might have seem notable or odd is neither any more. Well, what is notable and odd is that there are dustbins everywhere these days, even on the train platform at Cockfosters. Obviously the days of "bomb in trash" worries are over (supplanted by the days of "bomb in train" worries), and now it is easy to eat my breakfast on the way to the train, because I have somewhere to throw the core when I'm done. Also, the British Library is a much friendlier place these days. It is no longer like working in a prison, with the warden standing just there, behind your shoulder. It's a much better environment. I only wish the reading rooms had longer opening hours--trying to get everything done between 9:30 and 5:00 is difficult.

And, yes, I've turned into Randy. I know.

I spent the day on the bus from Cockfosters to London Bridge (don't do that again). I intended to spend a full afternoon at the Tate Modern, but once I got there, I realized I was bored. The building didn't grab me the way I thought it would, and the art on display wasn't...wasn't...I don't know. Nothing drew me in. I hate it when I can walk into a gallery and tick off the artist of every piece on the wall without trying. It's true enough that I could have spent more time in Surrealism gallery, but de Chirico and partners make me queasy even in small doses. The only piece that really held my attention was Cornelia Parker's Thirty Pieces of Silver, and even that viewing was somewhat marred by the poor design of the exhibition space. People, if you are going to put up a long text about a piece in a room that has only one entrance/exit, MOVE IT AWAY FROM THE DOOR. Huddled masses, trying to read, tripping over the barrier.

Anyway, I think I should have enjoyed the art, the building, and the experience more, and I'm not quite sure why I didn't.

Today was the last sunny day EVER for London. At least, that must have been written on the memo that was sent out to all of Europe this a.m. The south bank Thames Path was packed, shoulder to shoulder, everyone trying to absorb one last bit of Vitamin D before the winter grey sets in. It made for slow service in the cafe, but for cheerful people on the pavements, so that's a fair trade, I suppose.


Beth said...

Pleeeeeeeeeeeease go to the Museum of London! I want to know what you think.

Si said...

Remind me--why do I want to do that?