busy, busy, busy

Greetings from London!  Or ‘London,’ since ‘London’ for us translates into a 20 minute walk to Tulse Hill, then a half hour ride to Kings Cross-Thames Link, then a hop, skip, and a jump to the BL, which I’ve discovered is located in some sort of heavy metal neighborhood where many people on the streets are wearing rockers’ gear. 

It’s been an adjustment.  We’ve been learning how to regulate the temperature inside the house by turning the water heater on and off, how to flush the second-floor toilet using a handle, how to make coffee by boiling water in a kettle, how to carry groceries in a bag for long distances, and so on and so forth.

While I read all things Wilkean, or Wilkish, at the BL, my wife has been exploring a bit with the kids.  Yesterday she was excited about Clapham (‘It’s just like Park Slope!’), and the kids have seen Big Ben and traveled on a bus.  My son is especially happy with the doubledecker buses, because they toss him around like a carnival ride.

And here’s the eighteenth-century tie-in: when I stood in the middle of Victoria Station, watching the streams of people go by, I finally had the ‘citizen of the world’ sensation that the Spectator experienced on the Exchange, feeling the energy of an international city. 

And standing there in that space made me think that eighteenth-century cosmopolitanism, like many of its earlier versions, always kept a close connection to the kind of commercial urbanity found in London, an urbanity that brought people together from all over the world, for whatever reason.




6 responses to “busy, busy, busy

  1. Oh, the coffee-from-a-kettle and the adventures in temperature regulation take me back to my own time in England! Glad to hear you’re having a good time.

  2. Gena,

    It dried out somewhat, and now the temperature outside has reached the mid-60s, so we’re doing better.

    And the kids polished off an enormous meal at Pizza Express, so we’re feeling pretty successful.

    Tomorrow I teach them to talk like Charlie & Lola . . . .


  3. Kamille Stone Stanton

    If you take a right out of Clapham South station, a few doors down you will hit the most fantastic chinese take away place with really good prices and giant portions (for England). I guess it could have closed since then, but I prefer to think not. The considerate husband away at the library all day should pick up some on the way home if he’s taking the Northern Line. Maybe eating with chopsticks can count as a cultural moment with the kids.

    Kamille Stone Stanton

  4. Have no fear, the kids are not getting neglected. Went to the Tower yesterday to hear the fearsome tales of torture and woe retailed by out of work actors and actresses in period costumes. Stood in line and saw the crown jewels, which, frankly, seemed a bit Tolkeinish. Then heaps and heaps of coronation swag. My favorite was the 17th century solid gold chocolate fountain, with golden tongs for strawberry-dipping . . .


  5. Don’t you just love that airport escalator thing they put you on to keep you moving quickly past the jewels?

    That industrial feel surrounding the BL always had me taking pictures. It seemed like such an odd place–BL hidden behind cranes, etc.

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying yourself and that the kids are too. Let us know of the success of the Charlie and Lola attempt. They may very well pick up their own bit of an accent–or at the very least, bring home some favorite colloquialisms.

    Finally, I enjoyed reading your comment about the feeling of being in an international center in the middle of Victoria station.

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying your stay so far. I’m incredibly jealous.

  6. Kamille Stone Stanton

    Oh yes. There is jealousy abounding. It’s a real delight to hear about what you’re doing.