Thursday, December 4, 2008

Conserving the Past and You Light Up My Life, Not.

In the end we will conserve only what we love.
Baba Dioum

Today started the day at the V&A museum. It has an incredible vast store of treasures. It's a definite pick and choose otherwise it becomes too overwhelming. I discovered a side by side exhibit of sorts. On one side conservators were working in public view on several medieval era artifacts. On the other were artifacts that were on exhibit. It was fascinating to watch the painstaking work that went on. I was exhausted after watching for 10 minutes. The effigies I photographed were of queens including Eleanor of Aquitaine. They show some of the reasons why the conservators are always busy. I also photographed something I'll share tomorrow which had a bit of a future feel and where I ended up with another idea for a mini set of photos.

The sun came out after a bit of rain in the morning so I decided to do some walking just to get a feel for being in London again. It's interesting that the last two times I was here people seemed to have a sense of expectation for the future and almost a sense of imperiousness if you will. Well that has changed. There is more a sense of what's going to happen next. Definitely nervous energy. People were always on the move in the past, but now they move with almost a runners sprint. I noticed it more because of course being American I was walking on the wrong side of the street so to speak and I was walking against the flow. I think Londoners could run over New Yorkers.

Later in the afternoon I went to Westminster Abbey to experience their choir doing "Evensong". It was a nice contrast to the energy outside. Not to mention it helped to feel the soul of the Abbey. You can see all the tombs of queens, kings, writers, etc, but going through an spiritual activity that has gone on since for over a thousand years was a moving experience. It made me realize what the Abbey has been and is.

I ended up talking and walking with a man who had been at the Abbey to see the lighting of the Norwegian Christmas Tree at Trafalgar Square. He gave me a lot of history of the area while we walked, being a volunteer for some of the historical organizations in London. So we arrived just as the speeches were winding up (and I thought American politicians could talk). A couple of Christmas carols were sang and then the big moment to light the tree came. I held my breath, camera held high to capture what I thought would be a bright explosion of lights grandmother put more lights on her tree. The tree had some yellow vertical strings of light and one yellow star. Sorry, but it was a disappointment. They should take some lessons from New York City. Now those folks know how to do lights.

I walked over to Piccadilly Circus otherwise known as London Teenager Circus to catch the Tube. Does the term canned sardine have any meaning? While riding I noticed people seemed to have their newspaper all open to the same set of photos/headlines. Thinking I might have missed something important I kibitzed over someones shoulder. The headline? "Clooney and Damon Drink Oceans!" Whoops. I forgot London's cult of celebrity is even stronger then that in the US. Apparently the boys were in town for something.

All in all a good introduction to being back in London. Now if I can just find my way to meet the bus that is supposed to take me to Stonehenge and the Bath Christmas markets tomorrow.

Vince Guaraldi, "Charlie Brown Christmas Music":

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