Friday, June 4, 2010

5/20/2010 – Day Three of England Tour: Sights! Sounds! Books!

So what have I learned today

From this literary-themed tour

In the city where London Bridge is falling down

(Or so I thought in my nursery-rhyme days)?

Good writers make crappy husbands.

T.S. Eliot, Charles Dickens—

Is treating your wife badly a job requirement for these guys?

Can’t say I was disillusioned

For I didn’t hold them to a pedestal,

Though T.S. Eliot was quite the genius.

Genius always comes with a price.

But how eager I am

To see the building that inspired the Ministry of Truth

In George Orwell’s 1984—



No thoughtcrime here, sir, just passing on by.

We love Big Brother! God bless and… such.

To see it before me makes the book more real,

And all the more frightening.

“How many fingers do you see?”

I won’t be a statistic in your regime,

Nor will I fall to Big Brother’s knees.

But would that be preferable to living on Animal Farm?

There’s something to think about.

The British Museum is like any other—

Myriad paintings, innumerable relics,

Overload for discovery mode—

Where to: the Aztec exhibit

Or the ancient Greek statues?

Venetian masks? Egyptian busts?

So much to see, so few hours in the day.

So much to know, so much to take in—

I’ll take pictures of the signs

And the history they tell

To preserve this information

In my photo museum.

Then there’s the bookshop—

500 Things to Know About the Ancient World

Masterpieces of the British Museum

The Legendary Past: World of Myths

Two hardcover, one paperback

—If I can’t take the relics home with me,

This is the next best thing.

Taking a picture of the Rosetta Stone

Requires that I barricade my way through the crowd,

Shoving my way through so I can get my shot.

It’s a paparazzi target

Like a celebrity strolling through L.A.

Everyone wants a piece of it.

The gift shop sells items with its inscription—

Scarves, shirts, coasters, posters, water bottles—

“Let me get this for you,” the boyfriend says of a pretty scarf,

Black with white inscriptions.

“It’s thirty pounds,” I say. “I’ll take the water bottle, thank you,

White with black inscriptions.”

Later that evening, lo and behold,

A cabaret—literary cabaret, that is,

In a pub where restrooms are called water closets

And the customers must pay, then eat,

Which, once you think about it, makes perfect sense.

Lo and behold the poets on stage,

Tooting their horns, and rightfully so,

Luring us into buying their books

By wowing us all with their eloquence.

“What is a chop shop?”

So asks Tim Wells,

Testing our knowledge of British slang.

He’s man of many talents—

A skilled poet proving to be a formidable stand-up comic.

A teenage girl explains—

It’s a British term for shopping mall.

Tim Wells offers his own definition:

“If you’re a teenager, it’s heaven,

If you’re my age, it’s hell.”

His next question for us is

“What is dogging?”

The crowd murmurs

And it’s Sarah Stockbridge who answers,

Muse of Vivienne Westwood,

Model and actress turned author—

“Dogging is when couples have sex in cars

In broad daylight for the viewing pleasure of passerby.”

And so she paves the way

For the reading of the poem entitled “Dogging”—

Told you Tim Wells was funny.

The floor now belongs to Vivienne’s muse,

With a reading of her book, Hammer,

A Novel of the Victorian Underworld,

Of a vagabond thief

Whose pickpocket ways are her bread and butter,

Ironically named Grace,

Not so ironically surnamed Hammer.

Lady Stockbridge has caught our attention

Off the runway and the silver screen,

Proving she’s not all glitz and glamour,

Though that’s certainly part of her charm.

London is beautiful at night,

And I feel like the city lights

Light up just for us.

Wow, is that hokey or what?

Well, I can’t take it back now.

I’ll swallow my pride and take a stroll with you,

Significantly yours, and you significantly mine,

In the city where London Bridge falls down.

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