London Vacation

Got back last night from a six-day stay in London with wife & daughter. YuSie had rented a flat in Southwark for us via Air BnB, so we had a good base of operations. I fell ill with a bad cold halfway through our stay, which explains the complete lack of museum visits and rock gigs, but I still managed to do some fun stuff. (Left to their own devices, it turns out, the ladies will sleep late, eat big meals, shop for clothes and ride buses for fun.)

  • Outsiders in London portrait photo exhibition in the crypt of St Martin in the Fields. Lovely work, interesting subjects, and I had a long interesting chat with the photographer Milan Svanderlik. The church is denominationally vanilla CoE but has apparently long had quite a radical social agenda. Homeless people were napping in the pews.
  • Browsed in used-book stores, didn't find anything I wanted.
  • Bought a blue woolen engineer's cap at Laird.
  • Harrods: amazed by Egyptian escalator, flabberghasted by art department where you could buy enormous tacky statues and original Matisses. The place looks and feels like it caters mainly to the families of Arabic oil princes. Western humanities graduates will find the department store vulgar in the extreme and Harrods will not care because we are not where the money is.
  • Sunshine boat ride from Westminster bridge to Greenwich, highly recommended.
  • Guided walking tour of Spitalfields street art. Apparently the area has become a graffiti Meccah quite independently of the fact that it's long been a famous curry Meccah known as Banglatown. I wonder what the inhabitants think of the street art imposed on them by elements of the majority population.
  • Musical: Matilda. I'm not a big fan of the form and I wasn't happy with the production's class-society subtext. But Tim Minchin's tunes are catchy and everyone put in a fine performance. Craige Els absolutely killed as the horrific school headmistress Trunchbull.
  • Chinatown: I told Jrette, "This is why your Mum teaches you Chinese. There are Chinatowns all around this planet. You can walk into any one of them and be recognised on sight as someone who belongs there. Then all you have to say is 'Dumplings please'".
  • London Eye ferris wheel: a pleasant half-hour's bird's eye perspective on Westminster and Southwark. I just wish it was downstream in the Roman City.
  • Parks: Paddington St. Gardens, St. James', Green Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens
  • Meals: noodle soup, dumplings, dim sum, Bangladeshi curries, pub lunches, fried chicken & chips, full English breakfast

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That's 'engineer' as in train driver. Real engineers don't get nice caps like that to wear.

"You can walk into any one of them and be recognised on sight as someone who belongs there." No, she won't, not on sight (and I've seen photos) - but if she can speak Mandarin, as soon as she opens her mouth, she will.

By John Massey (not verified) on 04 Apr 2015 #permalink

Unfortunately, the code they have chosen for the engineer's cap is CEng, which is a protected title that stands for Chartered Engineer, of which I am one. I couldn't care less, but I'm surprised some pedant hasn't threatened them for breaching the Royal Charter.

By John Massey (not verified) on 04 Apr 2015 #permalink

The Kensington Runestone has 9 lines not 12. Among the other obvious errors pointed out by others who have put much more time into researching the subject, this shows that you really don't have a clue what you are talking about. Your mind may lean left, but you are close-minded and avoid responding to those who quote the findings of others disputing your standard viewpoint. Some websites should be shut down for perpetuating the same lies told for the last few hundred years about human history. It's too bad, because you are actually doing an injustice to the scientific mind that you claim to possess. The hoax my fool is you and all the other experts who willfully choose to ignore the truth, which is actually quite easy to find by doing very little research. Do us all a favour and stop trying to make yourself sound smart. Oh the ego! At least your making money, that's the important thing, not truth! Sad, sad, humanity. What a waste of human life. We have a choice you know, you have obviously made yours. Good luck.

By Open Minded (not verified) on 04 Apr 2015 #permalink

So it's enough that I mention Kensington Park in London, and you show up to complain about my take on the Kensington rune stone in Minnesota?

Don't go to Crot du Charnier for a holiday any time soon.

By John Massey (not verified) on 05 Apr 2015 #permalink

Haha, I had to google that. If I write a vacation report on the Crôt du Charnier, adherents of the Solutran hypothesis about the peopling of the Americas will start bitching. :-D

It's pretty funny - considering the Solutrean was one of the cultures clinging to survival in one of the European refugia during the LGM (we can't sensibly call the Solutreans 'European' because modern Europeans are tri-hybrids and look nothing like the Solutreans would have looked), and that they came precipitously close to extinction, with a very low effective population, demonstrated by very little genetic diversity, you'd have to wonder where they would get the energy and drive (and numbers) to break out of their refuge and head off around the edges of the ice sheets in order to get to America (in boats that there is no evidence of them ever having).…

It illustrates just how bizarre the Solutrean hypothesis was.

It's also moderately pathetic that the 'European' hunter-gatherers in the picture accompanying that story were made to look like modern Europeans, when it has already been established that Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in Europe had dark skin.

So if the Solutrean hypothesis had been true, and the first human inhabitants of the Americas had come from Europe, they would have been dark skinned people who looked nothing like modern Europeans and with whom they shared not much ancestry.

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

There's this crappy History Channel "documentary" on the hypothesis, where people with modern European complexions ride a little sailing boat to America -- and the mast is at the aft! :-D

Sorry, yes, that was my obscure joke - Crot du Charnier is the type site in south-eastern France for the Solutrean culture.

If you want to look it up on your free version of Google Earth Pro, you do better to type 'Solutré' in the search box - and then Solutré Rock to the north west of the village sticks out like an outhouse in the desert.

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

Maybe that's why the Solutreans never made it - they were dumb enough to put the mast of their boat at the back, not the front.

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

An entertaining quote from the South China Morning Post:

In Hong Kong, the lifestyle of people so closely tethered to their (mobile) phones and annoyingly oblivious to the world around them has even spawned a Cantonese colloquialism — 'dai tau juk', or 'head-down tribe'.

By John Massey (not verified) on 09 Apr 2015 #permalink

(OT) New Evidence Suggests Middle East Conflict Predates All Human Civilization… Jackson explained that the conflict escalated dramatically when Pleistocene megafauna first occupied what is now the land around Jerusalem. For hundreds of millennia, according to the researcher, control shifted back and forth between woolly mammoths and giant rhinoceroses, each of which reportedly sought to eradicate the other species entirely and establish a permanent homeland in the region.

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 15 Apr 2015 #permalink

Air B&B is great! At exactly the same time you was in The Smoke, me 'n' Er Indoors was in Gay Paree. Montmartre, to be precise.
Cost less all-in than the train fares/diesel to get from "North Britain" to That London, and a spiffy C19th apartment hard by Sacre Coeur for buttons.

Blimey it was ever so hot for April though. I thought I was going to die. Even the Africans were a bit happily stunned by it.
(subtext: g'arn Nigel, you silly beggar, wot's all this about immigrant hordes? I was a bit discombobulated getting back to Blighty, and seeing so many white faces about me. Did the Frogs all go on holiday or wot? Or is Paris Africa's largest city?).
Though I'll not easily forgive 'Er Indoors for the beer-less, food-less deathmarch in the boiling sun through the cultural institutions of La Belle France so easily. Even though the Parisiens were unfailingly delightful, circumspect, low-key and urbane, contrary to popular rosbif opinion.

By dustbubble (not verified) on 23 Apr 2015 #permalink