So it’s Friday, getting on into the evening here in London, and I don’t have a blog post. There is a good reason for this, as my internet was out most of the day and I was attempting to fix it, something I have finally achieved my tricking Blue Yonder into thinking my router is in fact my cable modem. This would have been no problem at all for someone who has experience with cable modems, but that I ain’t.
What I’d planned to write today was a hopefully amusing article on newspapers here in the UK, specifically a few operating in London. I know that sounds about as exciting as a box of twine, or probably less so, but the way in which newspapers unabashedly take political sides in this country fascinates me. I don’t blog about politics because it’s not a good way to make friends, plus I’m generally apathetic to the whole business, but it’s also interesting for me to see how different sides here view our sides back home; plus, something really hilarious (to me, anyway) popped up in the Evening Standard a few nights ago, so if I get time maybe I’ll do a mid-week update, or just save it for next Friday. Usually I’d just write it tomorrow, but as it happens I’ll be going to Stratford-upon-Avon to meet up with some people, so blogging then is shot, but HEY, it’s Stratford so who cares.
I suppose I can rattle off a few words about my classes. I have a history of photography class that, while not a roller coaster ride, keeps me interested because I like tracing the development and evolutions of artforms. I also have a class on British culture, which seems like a general history/sociology blend and should be pretty easygoing. By far my least favorite class deals with social welfare issues and their history here in the UK; I don’t dislike the class because I dislike social welfare, but I dislike it because it is run by breaking us up into small groups and having us discuss various problems (eg, multiculturalism) and then bringing the class back together to get some common points. I’d much prefer a straight lecture-style class because as I see it this discussion is completely useless — for instance, we were most recently told to discuss the perception of the word ‘welfare’ in America. I don’t know about you, but it’s blatantly obvious where this is going to go: every group will say that welfare has a negative connotation.
Well, they did. After like half an hour of dicussion.
So then the prof told us — surprise! — that in the UK ‘welfare’ has a different shade of meaning, one encompassing basic public services such as ambulances and education, and is not necessarily as negative as it is in the States. Woo-hoo. Basically, as I see it, this class is going to be many, many weeks of us arguing ourselves in circles over problems that are essentially insoluble and end up being a big waste of time.
Of course, there’s also my Shakespeare class. We’re reading Macbeth, which I am basically tickled pink over, along with Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night. I’ve never read Measure (aside: abbreviating that M4M might seem like a good idea but it isn’t) but I’m glad to tackle Twelfth Night in a classroom setting since I also happen to enjoy it greatly. How greatly? Well, I only really like one of the other comedies, really, so maybe that tells you something. (Of course, I haven’t read them all — maybe I’ve just read the boring ones first?)
Anyway, a few nights ago we went on a walking tour of “Shakespeare’s London” across the Thames. Of course, Shakespeare’s London is a bit of a misnomer because when Shakespeare and the Globe and the bear-baiting rings were in operation there, it wasn’t really London, and most of it has fallen apart or burned down by now, so a Shakespeare-centered walking tour of the area basically consists of looking at places where things used to be. Nevertheless it’s possible to look at the empty lot where the Globe once stood and then convince yourself you’re feeling a pseudoreligious sense of awe because you are literally oh my god really standing where Hamlet was unleashed on the world.
An addendum: last night I went to Piccadilly Circus and saw The 39 Steps at the Criterion, and it’s a wonderful show. Mel Brooks tried his hand at Hitchcock sendup with High Anxiety, but in my opinion it kind of fell flat; this production, meanwhile successfully manages to parody Hitchcock while being a rather earnest homage to the man and his work. It doesn’t help that it recasts the original story in sort of the style of a Cary Grant 1940s screwball comedy, which I admittedly have a soft spot for.