Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lost and Found.

Found: One exceptionally well-worn copy of The Case-book of Sherlock Holmes--The Last Twelve Tales of the Great Detective by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

Pages are yellowed and the cover has completely detached from the book contents...taped in place with heavy clear packing tape.

Discovered in the choir rehearsal room of one of England's great cathedral spaces.

We will try to ignore that this book appears to have once belonged to a library.

Barring that, we will hope that this book was purchased from said library at a fundraising used book sale.

Otherwise, my friend, you may have undone a good deal of the good will singing in a choir earned you with the "Person in Charge."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

You little Dickens you...

The choir's tour of England includes some stops that don't involve singing or rehearsals. The other day we stopped in the city of Rochester.

Rochester is the home of Baggins Book Bazaar--the largest and oldest second hand bookstore in England.

It's also a city where Charles Dickens found inspiration for some of the people and places in his stories and novels. 

This includes Eastgate House, which became Miss Havisham's crumbling home, and the Royal Victoria & Bull Hotel which was The Bull Hotel in The Pickwick Papers.

This is my family's worst nightmares writ large.

It's one thing to write about your family and friends.

It's another thing to eventually have a walking tour based on them.

I Love Artboy (The England Tour Episodes)

On today's trip to the White Cliffs of Dover I revealed that I know the words to the song that might now be stuck in your head because I mentioned the White Cliffs of Dover.

Leopold: Your voice has improved.
Artboy: Now will you put me in the show?
Leopold: It's a volunteer choir. You just have to ask.
Artboy: I think it would be better if I had to come up with a series of wacky schemes to sing with the group.
Leopold: Oh. Okay. No. You cannot be in the show. We've been through this over and over again.
Artboy: But Leopold...
Leopold: No.
Artboy: Waaaaaaah!
Leopold: Ay yi yi.

On bus rides, you really do make your own fun.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Technical Difficulties

The sudden flurry of posts is thanks to the laptop that Leopold and I brought to England being back up and running.

I decided to leave my computer at home.

Unfortunately, the weight of the plug of Leopold's Mac - a sleek, Space Odyssey-bit of industrial design that screams "look at me, look at me" - kept pulling it from the outlet adapter.

I keep trying to come up with a punchline for this post.

Instead I just keep thinking, "See you in hell Mac."

But that just seems mean.

Taking a Bath

A few hours in Bath - a city where Jane Austen and her family moved when the author was 25 years-old.

Funny thing about that though. Austen reportedly hated living there. In their book, Novel Destinations, Shannon McKenna Schmidt & Joni Rendon quote a letter of Austen's where she wrote, "Bath is still Bath (1)."

Another funny thing? This little Austen factoid isn't covered up. Folks seem okay with both Austen's relative dislike of the city (2) and the irony of the fact that Bath is the site of the Jane Austen Centre on Gay Street (3).

I keep trying to picture how something like this would go down in the States.

Docent #1: Welcome to Graceland. As y'all know, the King hated Memphis...but where else could you get away with building something like this?

Docent #2: And here we have the pride of the Lincoln Library, the letter most commonly known as the "Bite Me Springfield Farewell Address," so named for the note Lincoln scrawled in the margin.

Docent #3: On our last stop here at Monticello we have the room where Jefferson told his family that he was only hanging around long enough to get some money together and a drummer for his band and then he would be "out of this stinkin' place for good (3)."

1. Written, it would seem, with none of the subtle enthusiasm of "Reader, I married him."
2. Two thoughts here. While an unmarried woman of a certain time, Austen was 25 when her family moved here. But she was also writing novels - not something considered the most appropriate of pastimes for anyone in the genre's infancy. I think that she could have come up with something to get herself out if she was really determined. Lord knows her characters dropped in an out on relatives with a fair amount of abandon.
Second, I don't think Austen hated Bath. She just didn't love it and didn't want to move there from the start.
Yeah, sorry, this was an actual serious footnote.
3. I know. I've used this cover before...but how can I not include it?

Dear English Countryside

The M3?

Looks a lot like northern Maine (1).

1. Don't look so smug A4. You're not so special either.