Category Archives: Cambridge Journal

Walking With Granta

This is one of five poems I submitted to earn my spot in my upper level poetry class at the University of Kansas. I originally wrote it in 2010 in Dr. Matt’s Poetry 1 class at the University of Kansas, inspired by my summer studies at the University of Cambridge that year.

✦   ✦   ✦   ✦   ✦   ✦   ✦   ✦

The old stone echoes,
the veil of heaven dark and close.
The plodding of my shoes,
sawdust scented boardwalk
creaking in time, the ploshing river
and gumping fish, ruffled pillow
feathers of napping swans
glow in insect hrmming streetlamp,
flushing out like an alcoholics
jaundiced flesh, and I-

Foundering in the mirk,
this stave driven tradition
with glass soldiers floating,
shining like swans, and I
wonder how it comes to this.

Scratched in the brain:
plod, plosh, gump, hrrm,
existing forever
in one skull or another,
sky wrapped glories,
or until the light goes out
in the West.

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First Days of Senior Year at KU & Last Cambridge Photos

It’s been a busy few days, so I’m playing catch up with the blog again. I’ll just get right into it with some pictures.

As a motorcycle permit holder I got sent a couple of questionnaires last year, mostly about the explosion in moped/scooter numbers on campus. As an aside, just a few years ago riding a moped or scooter on campus or around town got you laughed at and yelled at by people. Now the same type of folk are riding around on them. Just saying. But anyway, the first thing different I noticed was the above picture and the displayed new parking spots exclusively for mopeds. Of course, this being America:

Because we can’t follow directions until we’ve been fined a few times for disobeying them. It’s part of what makes America great, I’m pretty sure.

I spotted this in a bathroom in Wescoe. What is this thing?

Seriously, what is this thing?

Flyer for a ska band that’s apparently native to Lawrence. I wanted to go see them, but I was pretty wiped out Saturday. I haven’t seen a local show in ages.

And of course there was a performing street clown on “Wescoe Beach” on the first day of school. Maybe you can see it, maybe you can’t, but his T-shirt is all about how his god is going to punish us for all eternity, or summat. I don’t know if he was serious or if he was just trying to be entertaining, like some kind of out-and-about Stephen Colbert style thing, but either way I think that “performing street clown” fits as a description.

OK, these are the pictures and commentary on pictures that I promised here, so here we go:

A Chinese character somehow etched into the bricks and then either highlighted or assaulted by spray paint. At some point I plan to look up what this means, because I don’t remember it from Japanese class.

All of these pictures were taken on my last day at Cambridge, and most of them were on the walk out to the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, a place I felt I should visit since it was only a three mile walk from Trinity Hall. I probably mentioned it in the last Cambridge post, but the college porters thought I was nuts to walk so far, which I found amusing. But anyway, about the picture: SHOOTING STUFF IN ENGLAND! I wish I had known about this much earlier!

Here is a shot of the reflecting pool and shrine from the flagpole area. It’s really nice there, and if you’re in England there’s a couple of these places, and I suggest you visit one if you’re near.

There are statues representing each service active in the area during WWII. Most of the names were U.S. Air Force airmen. Like I always do, I looked for names of people I might be related to, and found a couple:

I have the information of the two Maxwells buried there, and plan on looking up more information about them someday. They weren’t Southerners, so the connection would be distant, but I visited the grave I could find anyway because, hey, we’re all the children of Undwyn one way or another.

This was my last look at the river-wall from this point of view. We all sat on that wall, normally near the tree, and just hung out, at least once a day I guess. We all liked it there.

My last look out of Q7. Some kind of party, as they often hold there for alumni and whatever.

Dalek graffiti!

Tradition requires a final dinner at a fancy restaurant with the professors and students. I wish I had a shot of the waiter; he had one of those crazy little waxed and twirled moustaches and the attitude to be able to pull it off without looking ridiculous. Crazy.

I took these two photographs sitting on a bench in front of Cambridge Station, waiting for a fellow student to join me on the train to King’s Cross. He didn’t make the train, and I couldn’t wait for the next one, so it was strange, quiet trip to and through London to Heathrow.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the first public drinking fountain I could locate during my trip to England. It was at Heathrow Airport, and I didn’t find it until I was on my way out after having spent four bleeding weeks there. If you ask for a water at a restaurant, they don’t bring you a glass of ice with tap water, they bring you a glass of ice and bottle of Perrier that costs more than all the other non-alcoholic drinks. So if you’re visiting England and trying to cut costs, keep that in mind.

Related to both my visit to the US cemetery and the river-wall, here is something I did early in the morning of the last day. I don’t talk about it a lot, but I am Asatruar, and occasionally use this website to shed some positive light on who we are and what types of things we do. To put it in layman’s terms: the cemetery visit falls in the category of “honoring heroes”. The above picture, and the afore pictured river-wall, fall under a category called “vaettir”.

If you know anything about Japanese Shinto, you could draw a parallel between the Shinto belief in kami and Asatru belief in vaettir. What I have pictured above is 1. an ancestor statue, 2. some short, runic prose I wrote about how much the river meant to me while I was there, 3. a traditional votive offering in the form of coins. Have you ever thrown a coin into a fountain and made a wish? Did you ever wonder where such a thing came from? I incorporate simple, intuitive things like that into my personal religious practice. It has a historical precedent, a certain logic to it, and it feels right.

That’s it. That’s all there is of England.

Following shortly will be a post about my friend’s new pizza shop, followed by an uncharacteristically perturbed blog about why I am disappointed with Books-A-Million. A new Iron Lawyer of Mars is in the works as well. It should have been posted yesterday, but the first two days of school combined with a busy weekend saw me going to sleep Sunday afternoon and not waking up until early this morning…


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Cambridge Journal: Days 27 & 28

Watch this space for pictures later, but for now I’m just going to so a summary of my last day and the trip home. It’s been an exhausting few days, and I can hardly believe I’m home now. I’ve also been having difficulty with my home wireless network, which is why I don’t want to do the complete journal right now (I’m leeching off a neighbor, and I don’t like doing that).

So the last day I had in Cambridge I got up and did Professor MacAllistair’s Constitutional Law exam. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I’m reserving final relieved judgment until I see my grade. All I have to do now is a paper for Professor Shaeda’s class, but that’s not due for another week, because she was cool enough to give us time after the trip so we could enjoy the trip that much more.

After the exam I went and had some home made lunch in my room (with the icky English peanut butter), with my windows open listening to the ragtime band on the lawn that was playing for some kind of alum/fellows/whatever party. Then I went to the plodge and asked the porters for walking directions to the American Cemetery. They told me that it was way too far to walk, “it must be three or four miles!”, and recommended a bus. Wow. Three or four miles. So I walked out there after they gave me the directions and paid my respects to the American servicemen who never came home from WWII, then walked back. The whole trip took less than two and half hours. I had a similar reaction when I first got to Cambridge and asked at the train station for walking directions to Trinity Hall, “that’s got to be at least two miles!” WTF? I guess the English don’t walk any further than the bus station if they don’t have to.

So after that I got to packing, and because of weight and space restrictions I had to give up my socks, underwear and T-shirts in order to fit my souvenir purchases. It worked out to be an even exchange, so my suitcase was good for the airplane. I was running late for the last day banquet, so I checked out of my room and lugged my suitcase to the restaurant. Turned out to be a very nice restaurant, and there I was dressed for travel with a pile of luggage next to the table. The waiter even had one of those waxed and twirled moustaches that makes you feel like you’re not rich enough to be there, and I suppose that would normally be true, but KU was paying the tab so it was all good.

I left the banquet early in order to get to the train station on time, gripping the straps and throwing my fifty pound suitcase over my head, Army style, and humping through the city like a champion beast of burden. I was supposed to meet my friend Jason to have someone on the trains to talk to, but I got nervous about the trains shutting down and stranding me somewhere. I had £10 total for my journey home, and didn’t want to spend half of that on an additional Tube ticket. As it turned out I missed my friend at the station because I had to jump on a train because the next one was leaving too late. The train ride was weird, knowing that it was my last one and all that. At King’s Cross I got on the Picadilly Line and rode it all the way to Heathrow. I would have loved to know I should go to King’s Cross when I first got to England, because I ended up changing trains all over London trying to figure out what I was doing. But on the other hand, I did learn to use the Underground from that experience…

At Heathrow there wasn’t too many folks there. It was weird to be in such a place and have it be eerily empty. At one point I found myself going down a long tunnel alone while a distant alarm went off, warning of a fire at someplace else. Eventually I walked away from the source and found myself in the terminal, which had some people curled up on benches and against walls waiting for things to open. I ended up doing the same, waiting a good 4+ hours for Air Canada to come online.

The flight was a good one. There was good weather and I had an aisle seat, and I didn’t have any of the usual ear pressure issues. I chatted some with the Canadian next to me, napped for a short time and read some out of the Poetic Eddas. Toronto airport was crap. The airport itself is crumby, but U.S. customs was a pain in the ass. Not the actual customs search part, I had no problem with that. But standing in a tiny room in a snaking queue for AN HOUR drove me absolutely nuts. After that I had some difficulty figuring out whether I should get American or Canadian money or just buy my food in GBP. I think I probably got screwed, because I got American dollars, then found out that Loonies are worth more, and one of the bad things about Toronto airport is that there is next to nothing to eat there and it’s too pricey. Heathrow is what an airport should be, honestly, with all kinds of food to be had and not all of it off the wall expensive. Choices are a good thing.

So anyway, I used nearly all of my four hour layover to get through customs and security, and then found myself on a puddle-jumper with Toronto F.C., who was playing Kansas City the next day. That was interesting, though I didn’t talk to any of them. The flight home was good, and blessedly quick.

Dad met me at the airport and drove me straight to the China Buffet in Leavenworth, and I was very happy about that. I had been going for two days by then, and it was great to get home, kick my shoes off and finally see my kitties again.

I’m going to post some pictures to fill out this journal entry, and I’ll post one more later on as a “final thoughts” about the whole thing.


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Cambridge Journal: Day 25

Today was a long day, friends. And I’m tired. I’m just going to write about it and tack the photos on at the end. It’s not a big deal because there’s only five of them, because I didn’t charge my iPhone the night before so the battery died while I was in Oxford.

But that’s getting ahead of myself.

This week has been flying by, it really has. OK, I also just went back and checked and saw that I haven’t had a real Cambridge update since last Friday, so I will do a little bringing up to speed. Because the days have been going fast…

Saturday I walked down to the train station and bought my return ticket to Heathrow. Doing that really hit home to me that this is all almost over. Many people in our group had used the trip to London on Friday as a jumping off point for weekends around Europe, so I didn’t reckon there’d be anything going on back at the Hall, so I wandered out to the Grafton (the locals’ shopping mall) and watched Toy Story 3 (in 3D). Have I mentioned that there is at least half an hour of trailers and adverts before a movie in this country, and maybe even forty-five minutes if it’s a childrens’ show? But it was a fairly hot day and I was tired from walking all over town, so sitting in the only air conditioned building in town doing nothing was OK. Actually it’s not the only air conditioned building in Cambridge, but it may as well be, since it’s routine to leave all the doors and windows open here, even if you DO have the AC on.

So, yeah, the movie. It tips your heart out not long after the title sequence and hammers on it non-stop throughout the film. OK, not non-stop, I mean, they do take a brief break to horrify you, absolutely HORRIFY you, toward the end. No spoilers, but I wouldn’t recommend it for sensitive kids. Or maudlin adults.

Sunday I spent nearly the entire day cooped up in my room reading. It was evening when I heard some of my classmates talking out in front of Q, so I went out there to say hello. I didn’t want to have spent the entire day inside without talking with anyone, you know? People were drifting in from their weekends or (like me and a couple others) crawling out from seclusion, and a nice evening chat was had.

Monday I took a solid nap after class, and then after dinner a large group of us went out on a pub crawl. A collection of pubs had engineered the pub crawl so that if you got a booklet stamped for having a drink in every pub, you got a free T-shirt. If there’s one thing American college kids love more than drinking, it’s free T-shirts… Not all of us were drinking or seeking a T-shirt; some of us were simply along for the socialization. It was an excuse to get out and see parts of the town I hadn’t got around to yet, and to spend leisure time as a group. Said group split up toward the end of the evening, though eventually I ended up entertaining a couple or three of my more enthusiastic colleagues upon their return. As it was I was up pretty late.

Tuesday we had the idea that we wanted to take the punts out one last time. There was a dinner party for alumni (or fellows, or whatever), and when dinner parties are on the porters get conservative with us about handing out privileges, so that was out. The next idea was to use our classroom to view one of the Harry Potter films on Jenna’s computer, but when the porter unlocked the door for me there was no projector. I didn’t feel like pressing him to find it for us, so we all waited for the dinner party to abandon the river-wall and took it over for the rest of the evening, just shooting the breeze. Later that night there was some fireworks from the direction of St John’s College, and then from my window as I was getting ready for bed I could hear the dinner party singing what sound like an alma mater song. And there was, of course, the ever present lowing of the King’s College cattle and the cooing of the pigeons in the Hall eves.

Wednesday, today, was our Oxford trip. In Cambridge you don’t say “Oxford”, you say “the other place” because of the university rivalry. Like I said, I took some pictures but then the phone died out on me. Hopefully I can scavenge some pictures off my friends, because we took some good ones while we were there.

The first stop on the trip was Oxfam, a humanitarian NGO. We were hosted by a KU graduate who now works there, and coincidentally she was also an alum of the Cambridge Pre-Law Institute as well, so it really came together. A lot of what we have been talking about in class involves NGOs and international law, so it was a good tie-in field trip. The gentlemen who gave the initial presentation was specializing in the West Bank area and we talked about that, which was interesting. He was interested to know how the situation was perceived in the US, or is anybody even knew of specific incidents like the Gaza flotilla raid. After that the American KU grad that worked there took us out to sit on the grass for a Q&A period that was pretty good.

Then, about two in the afternoon, we were bused toward the city centre and released into Oxford proper with an admonishment that the bus was leaving at 6pm whether we were there or not. We started off as one big group walking down the High Street, but gradually broke into maybe four or five groups, with one or two people being individuals. I hadn’t any idea what I waned to do in Oxford, and the prevailing idea at first seemed to be to go into the different colleges for a look. I wasn’t to keen on that, considering there is an entrance fee for tourists, and that’s just not my thing. I’m sure they’re breathtaking inside, but to be fair, for an American they’re equally as breathtaking from the street.

We ended up following Maggie’s plan, since she was the only person that apparently had one in the group I was in, and we first stopped at Alice’s Sweet Shop. I was told that Lewis Carol used a sketch of the front of this store for “Alice Through The Looking Glass”, and that’s why it’s called what it is. It certainly is stuffed full of Alice memorabilia, if not too many actual sweets. It was neat to see, I guess.

Following that we went into the Museum of Oxford, which was not the Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaology like we thought it would be, but it was cool too. From there we wandered down toward the Magdalene Bridge (no link this time), enjoyed the free rose garden outside the Glass House Botanical Garden (none of us wanted to pay to get in) and then headed north toward a certain pub we had coordinated to meet up with others at. On the way we took a couple of impromptu detours to look at “cool stuff” we happened upon, and a couple of us found our way inside of a science museum that seemed more to be an astrolabe museum more than anything. But it was very cool, and definitely worth the peek we took.

So we got to the pub a little after 4pm. This place was The Eagle & Child, which has a sort of comical sign portraying a giant eagle carrying away a baby! The cool thing about this place is that it was a meeting place for a group called “the Inklings”, a literary group that had at it’s center JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. A few of us are into that sort of thing, so a pint had to be had in their honor. And some fish and chips for ourselves didn’t hurt, either. I will say without reservation that I see what they saw in the place, because it had a nice atmosphere and the food and beer was good.

From here we broke into three groups that left at varying intervals, and I was in the middle group heading back to the bus station. About halfway there I realized that I had left my bag with knick-knacks back at the pub, and, after a worried call to the group behind us didn’t go through, I took off sprinting across Oxford to retrieve it. There wasn’t a whole lot of time between then and when the bus was taking off, so I had to go as fast as I dared considering the press of people on the sidewalks and the buses whizzing down the roads. When I got there the gaffer described Joe to me, saying he had given the bag to him. So there I was with less than twenty minutes to sprint all the way out to the bus park for no good damn reason.

Of course I made it with time to spare, but I was well out of breath by then, and hot and sweaty. The bus ride back was definitely relaxing, I can tell you that.

So, without further ceremony, here are the five pictures I managed to take before my camera shut off on me:

This is the family of swans that lives on the Cam near Trinity Hall. They spend a lot of time during the day drifting in the moats that surround “The Backs”, which are the areas that the colleges on the Cam claim on the opposite side of the banks. They’re park areas that are private to the colleges, basically, and they have moats and deadly iron spiked fences to keep the peasants out. I am not even kidding about that last part. But anyway, the Cam is pretty wild during most days, so they hide in the Backs and the moats surrounding them, and then when the river traffic dies down in the evening they come gliding out serenely, and I’ve watched them passing the time from the river-wall. I was surprised to see them camping out under the bridge area, because it’s a busy foot traffic area, but I’m guessing that since we went by them shortly after 8am that they would’ve been moving on presently.

It’s about two hours by bus from Cambridge to Oxford. Round-a-bouts, yo. More than you could ever imagine would be sane to put on a highway. Just saying…

The Oxfam building. They have all kinds of thrift stores around England, sort of like the Goodwill or Salvation Army.

Sitting on the grass for the Q&A session. This was lunchtime, so shortly after I took this picture all those tables became full of employees. And I started to get hungry myself, because breakfast was early and rushed. Did I mention, while I’m sort of complaining, that there was no hot water in the shower this morning for some reason? Sucked.

The blonde woman in the foreground to the left was the KU grad who is working in the communications department (I think) at Oxfam, and I regret that I don’t remember her name.

So anyway, unless and until I can get pictures off my friends that’s all there is.


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Cambridge Journal: Days 20 & 21

OK folks, today is going to be another large picture dump, so prepare your eyeballs. Friday I woke up late and rushed down to breakfast, crammed some toast and a croissant down my gullet and jumped in the taxi to the train station. But this time I had a suit jacket (£5 at a thrift store) and had learned how to tie a half-windsor knot instead of the four-in-hand for my tie. One day I will memorize the full windsor, but that’s neither here nor there. At the train station I supplemented my breakfast with a chocolate muffin that wasn’t great, and then stuck in my earbuds, put on my sunglasses and dozed for the ride into King’s X. My friend Mike has a lovely picture of that too. I’m twice as handsome when I’m drooling with my head against a train window, but I don’t have the picture off him yet, so you’ll just have to imagine.

We assembled on the platform, and due to some confusion from our wrangler we watched the Circle Line go by us, then got on the Metropolitan, got off again and then finally caught another Circle Line train. Nobody believed me when I asserted the trains were color coded, but that’s all behind us now. We finally got to Temple station and came up, and walking up the street I saw a very strange parking area for motorbikes:

Right in the middle of the bloody street. Now this is an area of town with space issues. Then we come up on our destination, the Royal Courts, and it’s  very impressive building.

We gathered outside for another group photo, and even though it’s the wrong color and a little big for me, I was glad I did have a suit jacket to wear this day.

Left to right that’s Caroline (from Cincinnati, the only non-KU student), …terrible with names, Ariel, ..again…, Tyler, Mike, Kevin, Jenna, Joe, Maggie, Jason, Me and Grant. I will fix the names I’m not sure of later, I don’t want to guess and be wrong, and I know it looks bad there’s two people whose names I’m not sure of but there it is. I’ll fix it later. Inside the Royal Courts we were taken to a court room and given a lecture on the building’s history and an overview of the court room itself and how the modern Royal Courts work by a very nice man, who then showed us around the building. Afterward we went as a group to a famous pub and had a lunch that was unfortunately not picked up by the University.

That’s Mike posing underneath a large dragon statue outside of the Old Bank of England Pub after lunch. Here the group broke apart and everyone headed in different directions. Some folks were going out into the country, others out of the country, and a couple of us were heading back to Cambridge after some sightseeing in London. I had arranged to meet a fellow Asatruar from London at the British Museum, and I had about three hours before then to look around the museum. And let me tell you, it would be easy to spend three days in that place!

I’m going to try and keep the pictures from inside the museum sorted by theme, but it might not work out as there are a lot of them.

One of a pair, actually, but the other one looked just like it only reversed.

I believe the lion above and the doors here were Assyrian, but I’m not entirely certain of that.

This was in a “religion and spirituality” section that I unfortunately didn’t get to see but maybe half of because I ran out of time. If I’m not mistaken, this is Pazzuzu, a Sumerian (Assyrian?) “storm god” of some kind.

This was just a small part of a large wall of reliefs. I chose to photograph this part because I liked the details of the animals and the dramatic action.

The ancient Indians really knew how to party. I wanted to take pictures of more of the Indian stuff, but I was afraid people would think I was some sort of strange fetishist…

Though I did feel comfortable taking a picture of this one, there was this totally rocking statue right behind me that I didn’t. Like I said, the ancient Indians knew a thing or two about making religion interesting…

Moving on to another group of people who knew how to throw a sexy party, I mean have deeply spiritual religious services, here is a shrine to the Nereids. For the sake of brevity, if not levity, I’m going to throw the Roman and Greek pictures in the same lot.

A very large dog statue. Huge, but friendly looking.

I really liked this horse fragment. I have a picture of the horse by itself up close, but thought I would share the one with the other tourists in it to give you a better idea of this thing’s size. That girl was maybe 5 feet tall, so you can see how large the horse is.

There was a series of busts of Greek philosophers. Aristotle and the others weren’t there, so the only one I recognized by his name card was the hemlock guzzling chump.

Part of the Parthenon exhibit. Apparently the British Museum has all kinds of pieces of the Parthenon that the Greeks want back, but the British Museum won’t give to them. You might think, “that’s pretty arrogant of them,” but if you look at the history of the thing it makes sense. The Parthenon was used as a Byzantine church at one point, whereupon the Christians destroyed a lot of it to defile the pagan gods aspect of it, the Muslims built a mosque inside of it when they took over the Byzantine empire, then the French invaded and tried to rescue/loot the remaining antiquities, breaking much of them in the process, a fire and an explosion happened at some point because the Muslims were keeping munitions stored in a part of it, then the Greeks gained independence and destroyed the mosque and threw out anything that wasn’t Greek. At some point the British made off with some of the neater parts, convinced that if they didn’t there wouldn’t be anything left to study in the future, and so the situation remains today. The British may have had a point, what with the socialists and EU growing pains causing all kinds of mayhem this summer.

A close-up of one of the reliefs from the Parthenon. I think these would have gone around the top of the outside, if I remember correctly.

I don’t remember which Greco-Roman goddesses these were, but I’m thinking one of them was Demeter?

Random bull carving, region and time period I can’t remember, but I’m sure it was a “pre-history” thing.

These brooches, if I’m not mistaken, were from the Celtic room. Which is a perfect segue from Roman stuff.

Very cool Celtic shield. Celts were Iron Age, but I think all the shields were bronze like this.

I’m pretty sure this is a Roman representation of a Celt.

Celtic torcs, an original form of transportable wealth.

More Celtic torcs.

Crazy Gaulish boobie-helmet.

These are interesting votive figures. Interesting because they demonstrate Roman syncretism. These are Roman deities with traits of Celtic deities. Or Celtic deities with traits of Roman deities, perhaps. If you’re thinking of googling “syncretism”, I’ll save you the time: basically the Roman way of thinking was to go somewhere and say, “the locals honor Mercury as the chief god over Jupiter” because they listened to the locals describe their deities, and then figured, “well, this god of theirs has these characteristics, and that sounds like Mercury to me” instead of conceptualizing them as two different sets of gods. In short, they figured there was only the Roman pantheon of deities and all the other people in the world were worshiping the exact same deities as they were, just in a different way. This is one reason that the Romans were sort of beside themselves when dealing with the monotheists of the Middle East.

I think this jumble of bits was from the Norse collection. Moving from Celtic to Norse is another good segue, so away we go!

These I’m positive were from the Norse room.

I think these were actually from the Medieval room, but Norse folk do love giant horns, so I’ll throw them in here.

Dragon prow from a Norse ship.

While I like the fact the knight has moved in a legal way, I would have arranged the board to make it look like the missing pieces had been removed due to being lost in a game.

Fylfot/Swastika brooches. Get you some education on so-called “symbols of hate” while you read my blog…

A Norse barrel. Maybe from Sutton Hoo, as there was a lot of Sutton Hoo stuff nearby when I took this picture.

The famous Sutton Hoo helmet.

Sutton Hoo shield.

The British Museum was very, very crowded. There were some things I could hardly even get to look at because so many people were just pushed up around them. Like the Rosetta Stone. As far as the Rosetta Stone goes, I did manage to come around the backside and squeeze my head around to get a look at it, but the crowd mobbing it was just crazy, let me tell you.

This was a very large Buddha statue. I’m guessing the hands are missing because they would have been interchangeable so as to put different mudras on him, and somehow they got misplaced when the British looted this from wherever they found it.

Chinese folk religion statuettes. I really liked the votive statuettes from all over the world, but didn’t get pictures of most of them.

More of the Chinese ones, though.

As a JSA practitioner you just knew I’d get a picture of some Samurai war gear, didn’t you?

The British Museum didn’t really have much “pop art” to speak of, but this was part of the Japanese room. I suspect it was more to do with the fact the current installation was about printed art throughout Japan’s history than anything else, but it was still weird to see manga style art in the British Museum.

Some contemporary ceramics. This was over near the Asian rooms, so I’m not sure if these are just generally contemporary ceramics or the contemporary ceramics of Asia, but they were neat so here they are.

Some more.

And some more. The room was large and I was in a hurry due to the time, so I quickly snapped what I thought were the three neatest displays.

Around 1630 I regretfully pulled myself away from the museum to go out and meet with my Asatruar contact out front. Despite the mad crowds and the fact I was rapidly dehydrating I would’ve liked to have stayed much longer. So I walked out, bought myself a Fanta and looked about. This was not a very good plan I had hatched. I refer you to the picture above of the front of the museum. Go ahead, go back and look at it. Now imagine this: take the number of people you see in that photo and multiply it by three. Maybe even five. There were a lot of people outside when I came out. I milled around for a bit, looking for someone who I didn’t know what they looked like. Then I had a little adventure trying to get a British payphone to work. After several attempts and a call to the operator, I managed to get the number dialed correctly. Who knew something as simple as a phone call could be complicated just by being in another country? Of course the provider couldn’t put the call through anyway, as it turns out by friend was down in the Tube at the time and out of service range.

So yes, we did meet up, but not before I stressed over it for a while. I sat in the courtyard watching pigeons fight over a crust of bread for w awhile, then decided to walk down to the river and look for the bridge from my mysterious dream. If I haven’t told you about that yet, don’t worry, because right as I was leaving to go find the thing I saw a man standing there looking around. And wearing a large Mjolnir pendant outside his shirt! My ill-conceived plan had actually worked!

Paul and I chatted for a bit, then we headed to a part of London that he assured me was the happening area. I just looked it up to confirm it, and it was Covent Garden. Here is a photo from Wikipedia that just happens to show the bar we ended up at, the Punch&Judy, the white building in the middle. We started in the basement and ended up on the balcony overlooking the street performing.

In the interest of copyright, I will tell you this photograph was taken by David Iliff, and: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License. In short: you are free to share and make derivative works of the file under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license identical to this one. Official license

Now that’s out of the way, a shot of Paul and I down in the basement sharing some good Heathen frith, copyright myself and taken with my mobile by a friendly stranger:

Note that the metatext for the image is wrong. The Bok Bar is where we ended up after this, a South Afrikaaner bar that had Rugby League on the television and a rowdy but friendly group of patrons inside. From there we headed to a different bar, that was packed with very friendly Londoners. At both the Punch&Judy and the third pub we went to we ended up in friendly conversation with locals. The people were very fun to talk to, and the atmosphere was great. The last place had a live band that was pretty good, and the music was fun singalong pop music from the 80’s til now.

Oh, and because I forgot it earlier, here is a restaurant I saw on the way to Covent Garden:

If we hadn’t stopped for cold drinks at a place just a few minutes before I would have insisted we go in here, just on principle. But a photo is good too.

After “a cheeky few” (as my friend Johnny said of the adventure) it’s good that in London you don’t have to drive home. As long as you can motivate yourself through the Tubes and onto the right platform at King’s X, you’re OK. Oh, and walking clear across bloody town once you get back isn’t all that grand, but the late night snack from the Trailer of Life, which makes the best bacon cheese burgers in the world, will make you feel better even after all that. I haven’t been everywhere in the world, or even many places in the world, but I am already prepared to call this as true.

Today I slept in late, and was woken up by this:We get yelled at for a spontaneous game of football of less than a dozen people, but the Japanese students have a game of whoknowswhat that was organized, very loud, and lasted too long for me to get back to sleep. The world is totally unfair. Plus I just wanted to sleep…

But I went out and walked to the train station today to get my train tickets for my return trip. It’s coming up really fast! By this Friday afternoon I will be back in Kansas. Totally weird, because I love it here and want to stay, but I also can’t wait to get home. I miss everyone very much! And also this place has no decent peanut butter.

But they do have this:

Dandelion flavored soda. It actually kind of tastes like banana flavored Laffy Taffy. I had to try it before I left, or I just wouldn’t have forgiven myself. It’s not bad, it’s just not all that great, though it is much better than their “fiery hot ginger beer” I tried last week. I will stick to Dr. Pepper, thank you. Also, and this is strange if you think about it too much, in the United States almost everything is sugared with corn syrup. It’s something to do with the Department of Agriculture, American Corn lobbyists and the Nixon administration, I don’t know. But anywhere else in the world they use real sugar. So all the soda tastes different, and the more I drink it the more I’m convinced it’s better with real sugar. The Dandelion & Burdock soda, obviously, has neither sugar nor corn syrup added to it. Oh, and burdock is some kind of weed, the kind that attaches “sticker seeds” all over your clothes and shoelaces when you walk through a field. Not what you’d expect to make a soda drink from, but some English fellow said, “why not?” and there you have it.

And now I’m tired and am going to read for a bit before going to bed.


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