from London: Sightseeing
JAMES FISHER, STAFF WRITER
LONDON-If I were a pessimist, I'd say gobal warming
has come to London.
This week it's been unusually warm, in the 50s (11 degrees
C to us). The rain has also dropped off, although this fall has been the
wettest in over 200 years-18 inches of rain have drenched the streets
of the city in the past few months.
Right now, though, it's no more rainy than Maine is,
and it's warmer. (True story: I overheard a Colby freshman who hails from
California (here at the CBB London Center before beginning the February
term) ask her friend, "Does it get this cold in Maine?" when it was about
35-40 F outside. Colby-the school of hard knocks.)
So I'm taking advantage of the weather by cramming
in all the sights I haven't gotten around to this semester, of which there
I feel guilty when I admit that, while I've been here
for almost three months, I haven't seen a single theatrical production
(but have made time for three or four movies) or been to Buckingham Palace,
Windsor, or the Tower of London. I haven't even been to the Millennium
Dome, which will almost surely be demolished or made into office space
early next year.
I don't feel so bad about skipping the Dome; actually,
it's one of the most insulted and hated tourist attractions in the world,
and no one hates it more than the London taxpayer, who sees it as an ugly,
bloated financial black hole which has deprived him of part of his pension
and made his pint cost more. No one goes to see it-they'd be laughed at
if anyone knew they did.
I'm making up for it in these last few weeks. I went
to Aberdeen, Scotland, recently, where it was much colder than in London
and where a large statue of William Wallace (think Braveheart) occupies
the town square.
This weekend, I'm going to Windsor. Not for the castle,
though, but for Legoland. The Dutch, who first invented Legos, have licensed
a park just half an hour outside of London. I was a big Lego collector
when I was a kid; I hope I can fit into the rides now.
Mostly, though, I want to soak up what I know
about London already, and revel in it. I have become a temporary citizen
here. I know the tube; I know the language and customs of coffee shops,
restaurants, and pubs; I know the major news stories; I know the TV channels,
all five of them; I know what is worth buying from the Indian grocery
store down the street and what spices to leave alone.
I'm more interested in European Union news than charges
of election-stealing somewhere in the south-Georgia, I think. What's going
on with the election anyway? I haven't been able to find out who won…
For me, the point of studying away seems not to involve
setting the customs of my temporary native land against the standards
of my country, but to temporarily forget my country has any standards.
I'll do the comparisons when I get home, not now.
This isn't to say that I don't miss home, or Bowdoin.
I haven't been able to bike or hike here at all; it hasn't snowed; I only
saw my dad here in London briefly as he was returning from a business
trip, so I certainly miss my family.
It seems like the Bowdoin campus is pretty active
this year (or at least controversy in the pages of the Orient is). But
time is short now: only one week of classes and then one of exams is left
before we leave. No point in feeling homesick, when I'll be Londonsick