Category Archives: London Life 2008-9

Covent Garden wanderings

So, today is being spent doing loads and loads of work. I need to:

– make notes on the social constructivism of human rights
– prep an essay on whether the sociological attempt to explain and understand perpetration of atrocities requires exoneration (I’m saying NO)
– read two articles in French on Sarkozy’s promises and summarize them for a presentation
– prep a presentation on Mozambique’s reconciliation process, which consisted of traditional spiritual healing techniques rather than tribunals.
And this is all needs to be finished by Tuesday or Wednesday!! This is not even counting the other essays and notes I have to do. Ick.
But, I did take a study break earlier this afternoon to wander around my Covent Garden neighbourhood. I popped in to a few stores to browse, bought cheese at Neil’s Yard Dairy (scrumptious! and the boy who served my wasn’t too shabby either), and got a latte from the infamous Monmouth Coffee Company. De-lish!
And at least I can look forward to next weekend, when I’m off to Brussels and Aachen (Germany) to the Christmas markets of those two cities. I’m going with my friend Stacey, with a tour company, so we’re going by coach bus to Brussels and staying there, then doing a day trip to Aachen. Can’t wait! And then I’m back in London for 3 days to work my ass off, and then I fly home to Canada to see all of YOU!!
Are y’all excited? 🙂
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French and Saunders, Part 2

So, I went to see French and Saunders at their last performance a few weekends ago, with my cousin Deirdre from Ireland. It was AMAZING, again!! And there were a lot of celebs there too – Robin Williams walked right by me! But at first I thought they said ROBBIE Williams, so I didn’t really care, and then I later found out it was ROBIN Williams, so I really wish I was paying more attention. But I did see Alan Rickman – LOVE him!! And one of the guys from Little Britain (I know, I know, I really should pay more attention – it was the tall one if that helps). But I did get a fantastic photo with Jennifer Saunders – SO EXCITING!!!

Ok, so this will be the last time I mention them for awhile…I will try to avoid celebrity commentary for awhile. But it was just SO awesome!!! 🙂
This is me and Deirdre, after the show:

 

ALAN RICKMAN!!!


I love this photo of me and THE comedy goddess. It is currently my desktop photo (I know, I know – but I need something to distract me once in awhile from my readings about rape, torture, death, disease, etc, etc)

The Queen!!

So I randomly saw the Queen and Prince Philip on Monday.

They were in a car driving through Piccadilly Circus.
I guess I can cross that off my list of things to do in London! 🙂

Restlessness

It’s not that I don’t love London.

I do.
But I need to get out of this city!!!
So I’m off to Brighton tomorrow.
By the sea.
Maybe I’ll see a bird that ISN’T a pigeon.
That would be lovely.

French and Saunders, Part 1

So, I have a tiny love affair going on with French and Saunders (Dawn French, of the Vicar of Dibley and Jennifer Saunders, of Absolutely Fabulous; both also do sketch comedy together [for those not tuned in to the BritCom world comme moi]). AND, they were performing for the past 3.5 weeks at Theatre Royal Drury Lane and I live on Drury Lane (or Dreary Lane, as they called it in their show, and it has been quite dreary here lately), so it was like fate! And I got to see them perform TWICE!! It was amazing. I went with my friend Jen, who I know from Canada, the first time. And she had a lot of fun watching me freak out as my two comedy heroines came onstage!

This is me before the show – slightly frantic looking, but SO excited!! This was before the epic climb to the balcony section…

And after the show, we went out to the stage door to meet French and Saunders!!

Again, looking slightly frantic, standing beside Dawn French.
The AMAZING Jennifer Saunders!
She’s so awesome…

Trying to get a photo with her – but she looked at the wrong person who had a camera…

…and then looked at me in confusion (or awe – you be the judge! 🙂
The lovely Dawn French:
And again, looking slightly manic, with my signed program!

It was SUCH an amazing night!!!

OBAMA!!!

He did it!! It was awesome. I was a bit of a slacker and only stayed up til 3:30am London time. After he won Ohio, I figured it was over. But he won by SUCH a landslide!! I’m so happy!!

And then this morning, at 10am, I had a class and a presentation for that class. But my (British) teacher was so excited and so giddy that she said she couldn’t discuss atrocities today. So our class was moved til Friday. I’m a tad disappointed because if I had known, I would have stayed up til at least 5am!!
Oh well…I watched the speeches today on youtube. Had a tear in my eye when I heard Obama speak. YAY!!!

Debates

This weekend in London was an event called “Battle of Ideas.” Basically, it was a bunch of discussion forums and debates about politics, art, culture, the family, ethics, etc, etc. The participants were journalists and academics mainly. I went to three: (1) Radicalism then and now: the legacy of 1968, (2) What does it mean to be American?, and (3) Free speech on campus: should we ditch no platform? The first two were quite interesting, and even got a bit intense when the two Americans on the 5-person panel in the second forum got into a big argument. There were some tense moments. But I was VERY engaged with the third, which was an actual one-versus-one debate. It was about “no platform” in the NUS (the national students’ union), which says that no racist or fascist organization can participate in an NUS debate, be invited to speak, or run for election. Student 1 first argued that we should ditch this, and at first, I was on his side. I thought, free speech is important! By debating with them, we are not legitimizing them, but proving them wrong. But then Student 2 spoke and I was beginning to sway. And then the audience started asking questions and they were ALL against Student 2, against no platform. They were mainly talking about the BNP (British National Party), which is pretty racist and is anti-immigration. So I felt bad for the poor guy and put my hand up, and was actually called upon to speak! So I basically said, “I’m Canadian (everyone who had spoken was British), so I don’t know much about the BNP. But in Canada we have restrictions on hate speech and I think that that is important. So my question is to [Student 1]: If it is true that racial violence increases after the BNP speak in that area (as was argued), do you think that the ideal of free speech trumps the safety of the local population?”

The moderator seemed to like my question. And then Student 1 basically said yes, free speech does trump all. He said that if it was proven that violence increased after an NUS event with a BNP speaker, or another organization, he would continue to hold these debates to continue to fight them. I just thought he was very, very wrong.

Y’see, it got me thinking about my Political Reconciliation class. When I first started taking this class, I really disliked the idea of amnesty. There just seemed like there was something inherently wrong with letting the perpetrators of genocide, ethnic cleansing, torture, murder, and other gross human rights violations go free. It’s like that old cynical saying: “If you kill one person, you go to prison for life. If you kill 1,000, you get amnesty.” But then, there are situations where amnesty and the establishment of truth and reconciliation commissions result in more peace (less killing and violence) than would criminal prosecutions. So, what is really important? Does an ideal of “justice” trump peace and less death? For me, I think ideals, even ones I hold very strongly, crumble in the face of death. If sacrificing an ideal ensures less loss of life, well then, I think we should stick with that. But it is still very complicated, because who can say for certain which strategy will result in less death (especially in the long run)?
Now let’s see what happens with “no platform”…

Likes and Dislikes in London

Things that have begun to annoy me about London:

1. It’s always raining.
2. It’s bloody expensive.
3. I always feel like a car is about to run me down.
4. Strangers constantly call me “love” even when they’re being rude.
Things I love about London:
1. There’s always something fun to do.
2. The architecture and Thames are gorgeous!
3. It’s so close to other amazing cities.
4. I can take a picture with the Harry Potter luggage cart on platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station.
5. They have Phish Food Ben and Jerrys.
6. French and Saunders’s show opens today!!!

Inverness Part 2: Men in Kilts

This photo is for Sara and Kelly, since they were a TAD obsessed with bathrooms in London! 🙂 This is the bathroom of the restaurant Contrast in Inverness. Classy. (the restaurant, not me, who seems to be doing a bad Vanna White impression).

I think this is the court of justice in Inverness. Or a church.

The river in Inverness – SO beautiful, which was great because this was the day I went to a Scottish wedding.
You can really tell it’s sunny in this photo. This is me and Christe with a Scottish tourguide.
A typical street scene in Inverness.
Me by the river.
The wedding took place at the Inverness football pitch. The ceremony took place up in the stands, but then they took pictures on the pitch.
This look like a VERY expensive bottle of scotch, since it’s under lock and key.
This is me, Christe, and her friend Kay, who was SO nice!
And that’s the end of my Inverness adventure! Christe and I flew to London the following morning at an obscenely early time, and had a fabulous time in London!

Inverness: In Which Kaitlin Almost Sees Nessie

Last week, I travelled to Inverness (Scotland) to meet my friend Christe and her husband Scott. The first day was lots of fun! I met some of their friends and we drank the night away at a local pub. The next day, we were all a bit worse for wear, but we still made it out to Loch Ness!
This is a photo of my at Loch Ness. At one point, as we were driving along, I saw two rocks sticking out of the lake and I honestly did a double-take to see if it was Nessie! I know, I know…my only “actual” sighting of the monster was on the small bottle of whiskey I bought my father.

 Here’s another view of the Loch. I think this is the part of the Loch where most of the sightings take place.
And a castle located on the shore of the Loch – imagine living here back when it was a working castle??
And this is when we stopped at a village along the Loch. Quite beautiful. The weather was a tad drab, but it was almost fitting considering we were at Loch Ness.