Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Queen Parted the Clouds For Me

 Woke up with the jet lag morning light thing that happens when you fly East. Looking out of Chris's kitchen window reminded me of the William Wordsworth poem "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802:"
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Jack Russell dog in Oxford Circus.
 Saatchi gallery had a cool series of water color paintings of Hitler, above.
 And Stalin, along with 20-some other assholes.
I went to the Oil Room and later found out that it is not a few feet deep, only about an inch and a half. That really made it less impressive. I mean, to have four feet of oil in your basement is so much more of a feat than a reflecting pool on a platform.
 At the Taza... heaven in a kebab.... Seriously the best kebabs in London with the pickled Lebanese peppers to go on top. It's located  between the Queensway tube station entrance and the Bayswater Tube entrance. The entrances make like an L shape, so if you leave one walk toward the other and you'll find this place.
 They let me take pictures after I told them I come from Orlando for ten years and eat here every time. Chris came along with me to the Taza. He admitted that he was impressed that such a good falafel came out of such a touristy area in West London. Then some Pakistani men explained that it is one of the three best, and then one of the guys pointed to his father saying, "He just came from Pakistan, and I took him here to impress him."
 Then Chris and I crept around the fence of the Kensington Park pet cemetery. This took a while to find, but just like I did in 2003, I found a park worker and got directions. The two garbage men were impressed that we knew this place exists, and they pointed us in the direction of the Italian Fountain and up the hill. From there I will not say where to go, but we found the cottage surrounded by locked gates. You'll have to sort out which cottage has the cemetery in the back yard as I don't want to annoy the cottage residents. I was really itching to jump the fence and creep through the woods to get to it. I had to last time, but at thirty-four I worried more about being arrested. We rang the doorbell, and nobody answered. I was lurking around, plotting how to get in and shot the above photo from the bushes on the side of the building. Then I knocked on the door. A woman answered, and I asked how one would access or if they could access the yard. She told me to call the Royal Parks and book an appointment. I then went on about being a professor and always wanting to go in and this being my second time... Her partner then told her to just let us in from the side gate. Her partner worked for the Royal parks and said that only about 10 people would ever want to find this place so just let us in to see it. It is apparently a trick question on the London taxi driver exam, but aside from people who happen to pass this area in a London cab and remember such a trivial detail of the city nobody seems to know or care. The city of London rents the cottage to park employees as a residence and has no apparent interest in advertising a Victorian pet cemetery. Like the Taza, Chris couldn't believe he'd not heard of this place either.
 Apparenltly, along with a pet named Scum there is a headstone for a pet named "Nigger." But the weeds have covered it. There is no effort to preserve the grounds, sadly. It's fucking awesome. I recently found out that there is a similar pet cemetery in DC from the same time period.
 And, of course, someone buried the King of Pussies.

 Local constables....

 Kennington skatepark scribbles... and a smith grind...
 This is the menu to the Clapham skatepark... Holy shit! America get your act together! Haloumi burgers! The man behind the counter didn't have one liter bottles of water. He kept saying, "Believe it or not, Coke tells us what to put in there. And believe it or not, 99% of what is in there is made by Coke." I then told him that skate parks in the US never have such cool snack stands, with cakes and tiramisu and burgers that look so good. "Believe it or not," he said, "most parks have a place like this one."
 This kid was really good...
 Mudlarking on the Thames... What a fun time. Basically, London has about three thousand years of civilization in it's history, and there is junk in the Thames dating back even further to pre-history. It was a way of making money in the 19th century, to dig in the mud and find things discarded or lost that one could then sell. Now, people are free to scour the shores in search of pieces of history so long as they don't dig. You need a license to dig or scrape the surface. But I found tons of clay pipes dating back to the 1500's in just over an hour.We weren't the only ones scouring when we got there either. The tide exposed far more shore than I thought possible. I was practically running over the Millennium bridge to begin my searching. Chris wasn't enthusiastic at first, but once he saw that he could walk on solid ground he put a glove on and chipped in.
 There are dead animal bones everywhere... Not sure how old. The soil is anaerobic I'm guessing, and the water seems to be low in oxygen as well, so maybe these are decades old? If they aren't, there are a lot of people throwing dead dogs, cats, fox, horses and veal calves in the Thames.
 Condom fish... a common delicacy of the Thames.

Success... 19 pipe bowls, a bone hair pin or spoon (not sure), delft pottery... Two fucking awesome days....

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