The Intersection

The Wraps on London

Well I’ve just returned from the UK, and am currently writing from a coffee shop in Queens. I’ll head back to D.C. this afternoon or tonight. The flight was easy, no hassle; the only disappointment was that although we flew very close to Greenland, if not over it, there were too many clouds for me to see any of the ice.

Despite the fact that I managed to visit London right in the middle of a heat wave, I had a wonderful time. In particular, let me commend the stylish Hempel Hotel just north of Hyde Park and near Notting Hill. Every room is different. The hotel also has one of the only private parks in London, and being there is like hanging out in a gigantic Zen rock garden. It’s very peaceful and I got a lot of research and writing done. If you’re ever visiting London you might consider checking it out.

Let me leave you with some thoughts on London. It’s a wonderful city, although it’s way too damn expensive. I of course spent a lot of time noticing little cultural differences: For example, a Miami Vice look is in style among British men, which left me scratching my head a bit (although also, secretly perhaps, wondering what I would look like in jeans and a white blazer). Meanwhile, women sometimes wear ridiculously thick leather belts. I hope you’ll forgive me for including details like these, but London is style obsessed, and it tends to rub off on you.

Anyway, I also got to spend a fair amount of time hanging out with my Seed editor, Don Hoyt Gorman. I ate a lot of fish and chips and bangers and mash. I made trips to the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting in Reading and the UK Met Office in Exeter; the latter is encircled by a road called Coriolis Way, which I thought was both amusing and also appropriate. Using the UK Met office’s extensive library, I also got my hands on an ancient copy of Henry Piddington’s 1848 Sailor’s Horn Book, in which the term “cyclone” was coined. The book showed me that as early as the nineteenth century, people already knew a lot more about hurricanes than I had imagined.

Now that I’m back in the states, it’s more work for a week; then–get this–I am off to Sao Paulo, Brazil, for a week (an entirely personal trip; my brother is getting married). Then it’ll be mid August and I’ll be starting to prepare for the new book tour to promote the paperback edition of The Republican War on Science; more on that soon….


  1. #1 SteveF
    July 31, 2006

    Glad to hear you enjoyed your trip Chris. I live just round the corner from the Natural History Museum so sounds like you were pretty close.

    Interesting remarks on our fashion obsessed capital. Even more ubiquitous than vast belts are huge sunglasses, particularly amongst the monied young things in this part of town. The fact that you observed a lot of fashion concious people is partly a consequence of being in Notting Hill.

    Not sure I’ve noticed too many men dressed in a Miami Vice style, although the a slightly scruffed up, highlighted, version of the mullet does appear to be in vogue at the moment. For some reason.

  2. #2 Jon Winsor
    July 31, 2006

    I of course spent a lot of time noticing little cultural differences… London is style obsessed, and it tends to rub off on you.

    As Billy Joel says, “You could really be a Beau Brummell, baby, if you just give it half a chance”.

    I like this quote from a local blogger and writer around Boston. He’s writing about flying back into Cambridge/Boston after being out on the left coast:

    I find every ambitious town sends you a message. New York tells you “you should make more money.” LA tells you “you should be better looking.” Rome tells you “you should dress better.” London tells you “you should be hipper.” The Bay Area tells you “you should live better.” And Cambridge tells you “you should read some of those books you’ve been meaning to.”

    Of course these are oversimplifications, but surprisingly true. Makes you wonder about all the things that got them distinctly the way they are…

    (By the way, I didn’t notice Boston/Cambridge on your book tour. Is the plan to stay mostly in the west?)

  3. #3 Ronin Geographer
    July 31, 2006

    I saw the ice on the way over – could have been my imagination but it looked like there were places in the middle of it that were melting into waterfalls in the middle of nowhere, and creating the beginning of riverine shapes. I was only on London itself for a day and 2 nights on the way back but will blog soon about my dinner with Jerry Ravetz. Most of the time was spent in Italy – for some observations about fashion, see A view of a room with a view. (of Florence). I have another one coming on that subject…

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