London Will Rock You

london_2423609bRidley: I wandered over to London for the weekend. That’s my news. You know, I love the hustle and bustle over there, the different types of people you see, the numerous niche shops that would whither and die in Dublin, the abundant restaurants to eat tasty food in (most especially the Krispy Kreme doughnut stands)krispyand of course, the tube. I keep calling it the subway, or the underground, which marks me out as an outer towner, or so I’ve been told, but I can’t help feeling a small sense of pride that I have an Oyster card (which is just a card you top up and scan at the ticket barrier. I know how to use it though)download and I am no longer completely befuddled by their map filled with colourful lines, hoops and loops.tube_map I know how to get to Victoria station (among so many other places, but I mention here as this is where I get my Krispy Kremes 😀 ), how to make my way to Oxford street for a bit of shopping, I’ve braved the tube at rush hour, I’ve caught the last train at half twelve at night and I’ve seen what it’s like when there’s a problem with one of the lines and trains aren’t running (there was just people, people, so many people everywhere!!). I loved it all!

Now apart from some mild shopping, and numerous happy tube trips (where i people watched, I just love people watching!) I went, for the second time, to a show (the first time was when Latimer and I saw Wicked during the summer in the Apollo, so so good!). This time I went to see We Will Rock You, which is the Queen musical.images

Now, you mightn’t know this, but Queen is my favourite band. Their songs and tapes were played quite often in my house when I was younger, even at eight or nine I remember singing along to Bohemian Rhapsody and knowing all of the words, so to go to this musical was the next best thing I’ll ever get to actually seeing Queen in concert (and we know this won’t ever happen. Poor Freddie)220px-WeWillRockYouDominion

Now I’ll start this off by saying the actual storyline wasn’t great, but you just have to suspend your disbelief, turn off your brain and just let the music flow. The story is basically about an universe where the only type of music that is created now is synthetic, everything is ruled by the Globalsoft corporation. Instruments are banned and have become things of legend, everyone wears the same clothes, they act the same way and they listen to the same type of music.WWRY_RadioGaga_690x345 As it’s technically a love story, you of course then have a boy and a girl who don’t conform to society’s expectations, they’re ‘different’ and they seem to have an inherent need and love for rock and roll, which they seek out.scaramouche-01 we-will-rock-you_9 I won’t go into it any more, but saying that it was all fairly predictable means you can probably guess what happens but my god were the actors absolutely fantastic singers. They managed to fit in so many of the songs, even Fat Bottom Girls! It has to be one of the best, most fun shows I’ve ever been at. Towards the end of it we were all singing along, clapping, waving our arms in the air, and not to mention there being a small bit of long hair swinging (the more female version of head banging, of course)1279-we_will_rock_you-banner We-Will-Rock-You--001

If you get a chance you should check out this show, we got cheap enough last minute evening tickets, so it was all very reasonable. The only thing that would have made it better was if I’d had a doughnut at it. 😀

Quite Interesting

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Latimer: Lately I’ve been trying to get my ‘reading groove’ back on. Yup, it was gone for a while.

For me, the serious ‘groove’ comes on a little randomly – the urge to read more and more and MORE books!

My problem is, I buy too many books, then don’t get around to reading them. I have a serious backlog of books.

There are more.... there's always more; like Highlander
There are more…. there’s always more; like Highlander

Like you would not believe – and yes, I have since ordered more! I don’t learn, but I have decided that I will stop buying and clear the backlog in the lead up to Christmas.

(she says, but this turned up on her doorstep today!)

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His name is Clod Iremonger, and he is an Iremonger… HOW CAN I NOT READ THIS? I’m so intrigued…. I have a problem!

Ridley, I know, has a similar reading backlog, which I aim to make worse for her, because I have a bag of seven books for her (that she must read)! Ha 🙂

Now though, I am accountable, because I’ve put this in writing – ‘I will clear my reading backlog!’ – I will succeed! If you have a backlog, join me in my crusade of reading-before-buying-more! How is this going to end for me? Not well I don’t think.

But seriously, I have started to make an… effort.

Like I finally finished Qi: The Book of the Dead by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson (and it was brilliant)

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and I’m going to finish Bill Bryson’s At Home, which I have been reading on and off again for too long! (Bill Bryson’s books are fantastic really, but take forever to read!)

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I vow to finish this one before the end of October (oh, what have I done!).

When I finished The Book of the Dead a dam broke inside me and I felt inspired to get out and read all my poor abandoned books, because they’re all full of interesting things 🙂

The Book of the Dead is a book filled with brief stories about lots of different people, people you know like Thomas Edison and Casanova, to people you don’t like, Moll Cutpurse, a bear-baiting cross-dressing pickpocket and James Barry, a famous doctor in the early 1800s, who gave Florence Nightingale the worst dressing-down of her life, and … oh yea and he was actually a woman (though no one found out until she died!).

It has to be one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a while.

I got emotionally caught up in peoples stories; like Nikola Tesla.

“If-you-wish-to-understand-the-Universe-think-of-energy-frequency-and-vibration.”-Nikola-Tesla

He invented the radio (although Marconi was awarded the honour and won a Nobel Prize for it).

Tesla was known as the ‘Father of the 20th Century’ and the master of electricity (more so than Edison). He was inventing things that were light-years ahead of his time; he even foresaw/wanted to make the internet – the man was a genius.

And he died in debt with no money, living with crippling OCD, though he should have been a millionaire.

But I came to realise that for some people, it isn’t about what their knowledge can give them, what monetary rewards, some people are just driven to answer questions and solve problems, because that’s where they get their joy.

Tesla’s business partner George Westinghouse was in financial ruin after a stock market crash, so Tesla dissolved the contract between them that was costing Westinghouse so much. He said;

‘You have been my friend, you believed in me when others had no faith; you were brave enough to go ahead… when others lacked courage; you supported me when even your own engineers lacked vision… you have stood by me as a friend… Here is your contract, and here is my contract. I will tear both of them to pieces, and you will no longer have any troubles from my royalties. Is that sufficient?’

It’s pretty special, and wonderful, that a person, who stood to gain 12 million dollars from those royalties, which would have made him one of the richest men in the world at that time, would do something so noble as to brush it all aside to help a friend.

Imagine that. It makes me feel pretty good about the world; we can be so good to one another sometimes.  

The book also taught me that real genius is a rare and beautiful thing; and if you haven’t shown a spark by the age of 10, kiss the notion goodbye! Ha. Reading the stories, I’d have to pause and stare into the distance thinking; ‘yup, that ship’s sailed!’

Dr John Dee, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s most trusted advisors, would spend 18 hours studying everyday; 4 hours sleeping and 2 hours were set aside for meals. I can’t do that!

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He was the original 007 too. He used to sign his letters to the queen ‘007’; it was a symbol that meant he was the Queen’s eyes, or that the letter was for her eyes only.

That's Dee, Mr Dee... Mystery? Ha.
That’s Dee, Mr Dee… Mystery? Ha.

Dee was known for his mysticism but actually he was a man of science too (though the word ‘science’ didn’t exist at the time and was essentially known as witchcraft). He used geometry to successfully map the globe and was the greatest book-collector of his day (with books on mathematics, earthquakes, dreams, women, Islam, games, botany, pharmacology and veterinary science, to name a few).

By the end of his life, plague had stolen almost all of his family away from him and he lived in desperate poverty (he fell out of favour with the Queen), with his daughter Katherine, having to sell his books one at a time so he could eat (he was 82 years old).

Now that really breaks my heart.

But the beautiful thing is, a girl who lived in the area described him as…

‘He was a great peacemaker; if any of the neighbours fell out, he would never let them alone till he had made them friends. A mighty good man he was.’

Again the survival of a few kind words about a good person, from a good person, it makes you feel pretty good again.

There’s something really up-lifting about this book. It does make you feel like you haven’t had much of an adventure yet, or you’re not very smart and never will be, but it also makes you feel like isn’t it great how many weird and wonderful people there have been in the world?

We’re silly and vain, stupid and clever, wacky and weird, and we always have been, and that’s pretty great 🙂

Chillin’ at Court

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Latimer: For as long as I can remember, I wanted to go to Hampton Court.

But, I kept forgetting/never knew, what it was called, so I’d get really frustrated trying to explain to people where it was I wanted to go.

“I’d love to go to Henry VIII’s Palace… you know with the,” cue my distant expression, “with the red-brick gatehouse.”

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I would stare expectantly at the person and they would stare back rightly confused. I would get frustrated, thinking everyone should know what I meant and give me the name of said building (so I could forever remember it and not look like a fool every time I said I wanted to visit it!).

This has been the way it’s been for me for years. But finally I realised it was Hampton Court I wanted to visit.

It’s in London, so when Ridley and I went there, I just had to go!

Hampton Court is epic and after being stuck in a queue for every which-way-thing in London, it was surprisingly low on visitors, which probably made the experience all the better. We had an ice-cream on the lawn, enjoyed the sun and stared in wonderment at the gorgeousness that is the Court.

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While there, Ridley got real bohemian. She headed over to a tree, sat down, pulled out a notebook and pen, and with a big smile said –

“Let’s do book-work!”

I shuffled over to the tree, thinking this was a very quaint idea; we’d be like Jane Austen or something. A minute later I leaped up. “There’re ants crawling all over the tree! I hate nature -!”

Ridley jumped up, screaming, her dream of book-work in the park destroyed by nature. Deflated we gave up and headed into the Palace, letting the magic of Hampton Court wash over us.

If anyone watches/reads Game of Thrones, Robert Baratheon reminds me of Henry VIII. I think that might be intentional – George R. R. Martin draws from history right? Well, the banquet hall has Baratheon stamped all over it – it’s so cool!

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In my head I was saying, ‘ours is the fury’! over and over again, until I annoyed myself!

Ours is the Fury!... or something.. ha!
Ours is the Fury!… or something.. ha!

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Apparently the tapestries that hang in the hall are made of gold and silver thread.

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Rich people back then got tapestries as a show of wealth, because of the cost involved in making them and the materials used. Henry VIII amassed tapestries like celebrities today buy diamond encrusted iPhones and fancy cars. Tapestries were the flash accessory of the day, and Henry VIII had the largest collection. The tapestries aren’t as bright now as they were in his day, but they are still impressive!

Throughout our holiday we were asking each other the question of – ‘what would you do if you fell back in time?’ Our hypothesis started out with the notion that we’d be gods! We’d know everything.

But, Dara O’Briain sums up the truth of what would happen…

Ridley struggled to read the tiny script writing on a massive charter in Hampton Court. Waving her hand she moaned; “And I wouldn’t even be able to read!”

Even if we could read it wouldn’t be written in the same English as it is today – we would probably not even understand what people were saying to us. That old adage by Wittgenstein that; “If a lion could talk, we would not understand him,” because his frame of reference would be so different to ours.

So, the portal that opens sucking me and Ridley into the past becomes more and more dangerous! I think our science backgrounds would also lead to us being burnt as witches!

We did conclude, on our travels, that it would not be good to get sucked back in time and end up in Edinburgh. It was hit by ‘plague’ (we never learned which plague) 11 times. We also would not have survived the closes, with people tossing buckets of waste down the narrow streets… or having to drink beer because the water was so dangerously full of bacteria (from the waste flowing down into the lake and therefore the drinking water).

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Walking around the Court is almost like walking through time (the safer version of it). You half expect to turn a corner and see a man in tights, a grey curly wig, heels and a fancy velvet jacket…

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Funnily enough, that did actually happen at one point. He was sitting talking to a 1700’s era woman.

We (the tourists) all walked past them, listening in on the conversation, confused as to whether they were in-character or not and nobody talking to them to find out.

We all kept a safe distance; blinking and straining inward to listen to them, but glancing to each other and giving a nervous laugh, like we were all thinking, ‘is this a mass hallucination?! Can you see them too?!’

We left the palace, happier for having been there! If you’re in need of an oasis of calm in London, head to Court!