Sunday, October 23, 2005

Shaky (January 2005-October 2005)

After a flurry of emails and a particularily derrisive comment I must confess my amazment at your (my loyal readers') concern over my caffeine well being. Though, it should be considered that the most ardent well-wishers are also heavily invested in the coffee industry, but I'm sure their motivation is purely personal. Just to reasure everyone, I'm back up to my quad shot in the morning with a bit of afternoon double for a bit of a pick-me-up.

I must report some bad news, I fear; I go into the gym on friday for a light workout and find my favorite treadmill, Shaky, broken. It was acting (mainly smelling) sort of funny Thursday after kilometer 16, but I just assumed it was finnally warmed up and broken-in. Turns out, I was wrong. The moral of the story: when you all have a drink today, poor a bit out for the fallen holmes. On the plus side, I pulled, possibly tore, my quadricept on Friday's run. Now, most of you who know me, know my aversion to cold mornings and racing bikes in them. And, many of you can think back to a particular cold bike race were Uncle Steve and myself "accidently" attacked and exploded the field on the first lap of a ridiculous circut race, and those with exquisite memories will recall that my compadres on the team went on to glorious placings while I was left with debilitating injury--yeah same leg, what are you gonna do. Now I'm sitting on my bed typing this blog and finishing a block of cheese.

Either or. Upon visting the Tower of London last week, I am convinced now of at least two things. London is really old, and American tourists are roughly similar in size, apearance and behaviour to cattle. Anyone who has even heard of London knows that the weather 98% of the time is crap (actually that's an exageration, the weather in Kansas is 98% crap. The Lawrence Journal World online reports 37 degrees right now...my window's open 'cause here its balmy...lovely). With its reputation for crap weather, one would think that when spending any apreciable time in it one would have the proper gear--stout shoes, a leather jacket, newspaper, book, photo-id card...you know the proper gear. And, if you were caught out lacking a key element from the kit, then it was your own fault. Here's a snippet of conversation between two middle america tourists I heard during a "freak" rain shower--keep in mind this is london, it rains a lot, there are no freak rain showers. Note, my responses are in brackets.

"I can't believe it's raining" [uh, it's London]
"It was sunny when we left" [uh, it's London]
"Does this happen a lot" [uh, it's London]
"Do you know where we can get an umbrella" [uh it's London].

With my umbrella, I was pretty much unaffected by the rain, but it seemed to pose quite a problem for others.

The tower of London is actually quite cool (despite the 11 pound fee). Composed of many towers, it is, among other things, a really old group of buildings, home to the crown jewels, a former prison, medieval palace, armoury (more on that later), store room and haunted. It's main building was built by William I (aka the Conquerer) around the last time England was successfully invaded (more on that too) around 1066, and from there it has under gone various improvements and up-grades into the fortress it is today. It is also immensely haunted and frankly quite spooky to tour. While walking around some of the rooms alone I got a very real sense of morbidity and dread, not to mention chills, etc. It is said that many, many, of the people executed there have remained: included are the un-favorite wives of Henry VIII, Walter Raleigh, Thomas a Becket (though I can't figure out why he haunts the tower because I seem to recall him being murdered somewhere else...) two princes killed by Richard III (the "my kingdom for a horse" guy) and many more. My favorite is that of Lady Salisbury. She was being executed for harboring ill thoughts towards Henry VIII and during her beheading, she very ungraciously decided to flee the axman who chased her around the lawn and eventually hacked her to bits. LIke I said, it's London.

The Tower also houses the famous ravens. Prophecy states that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, the British Empire (what's left of it) will fall. If you look closely in a lot of pictures, you can actually see birds circling the White Tower (from William I's time). This is because ravens have developed an attachment to the place, and the raven "master" clips one of their wings so they can only fly in circles around the White Tower. The Brits are nothing else if not practicle.

Whilst touring the armoury, I received some very real chills near Henry VIII's armour--don't know but that dude gives off some bad vibes. It was also inthe armoury where I was touched with a bit of old-fashioned god-bless America patriotism. The Brits are big on capturing and displaying artilery guns from their imperialist conflicts. There are many prizes from the Napleonic wars, Crimeia, etc. Not to mention famous Brittish guns--one of which has "God's Hammer" stamped into it (yes they are all named and dated). Most of these are period pieces and remarkable in their craftmenship while exuding cool history stuff. Indeed, they are displayed in chronological order with dates and reigning monarch. Conspicuously missing are weapons from the George III's era dating from about 1775-1800ish. While standing there, I couldn't for the life of me figure out why there was such an obvious gap in military history, especially for a nation so obsessed with its military history; I was so perplexed I even started walking towards the docent to ask what's up. Then, it hit me. I shouldn't go to the Tower of London to see weapons of Britan's late 18th century exploits; I should go to the Smithsonian 'cause we have 'em all...a tear or two crept into my eyes--I felt like Homer at the US embassy in Austrailia--"oh beautiful" (ironically America the Beautiful is sung to God Save the Queen).

Which brings me to Friday. Since I also have a cold, I've sort of been laying low and not tearing up the clubs. So on Friday, I celebrated the 200th Aniversery of Trafalger. I'm not going to recount the history on that one (google it), but I can think of few men (or women) whose cojones can measure up to Horatio Nelson's. Read about him and you will understand why he is more celebrated than the monarchs. His ghost also appears from time to time at a pub a few blocks from my house...cool.

Anyway. Sort of mellow right now, but halloween's comming up, and since it's my favorite holiday and this place is really old, I'm convinced something rad will happen.

thanks for reading,
Ben

2 Comments:

Anonymous Brother Nathan said...

Around this time I think the English also celebrate Guy Fox Day. I remember a UEA professor saying to me that "the day ends with a bonfire and fireworks, much like your July 4th Independence Day, but we don't celebrate that one."

1:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear biatch Abby,

I want another entry, damn it!
-Bored in Athens.

1:29 AM  

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