All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

London, Days 6 & 7 -- Happy Birthday to S & The Great Schism

Happy Birthday, the London Edition

Friday was S’s birthday and our day of catching up on the things we’d missed earlier in the week.

In the morning, we went to the Tower of London. As we were waiting outside, we happened upon a local tour guide and his merry band of followers. His commentary went like this:

“This is the Tower of London, so... if you want to see it... here it is. And, uh, the rest of London is kind of over there... So if you want to see the Tower, uh, let’s go this way...”


First day, buddy?

The actual Tower tour guides – the beef-eaters – are eloquent, professional, and hilarious. A most-do if you’re hanging about London.


On the flight over, I had watched the movie “The Other Boleyn Girl.” The whole film is a little off and left me feeling sort of queasy, but I’ve never before been so fascinated by the story of Anne Boleyn. I had hoped that in London I might get answers to some questions the film raised for me and find that fine line between legend and history.

No such luck.

Our beef-eater showed us the spot where Queen Anne was privately executed in the Tower courtyard. She explained that Anne Boleyn was terrified of the axe and requested a French-style execution with a sword. Henry granted her request, going so far as to recruit an executioner from France who could ensure the job was done properly. So skilled was he and so sharp was his blade, that when he held up the queen’s severed head, her lips were still moving in prayer.

Good story, right?

Then we went inside the White Tower, which served as an armory for centuries and is now a military museum, and right there in one of the exhibits, they have a massive beheading axe with the caption “The Axe that Beheaded Anne Boleyn.” Bewildered and befuddled, S and I read the fine print, which said this was the axe that So-and-So wrote had beheaded Anne Boleyn, but now we know she was actually beheaded with a sword. The axe in the display is a meaningless example of twisted history, and the sword that really killed Anne Boleyn is probably lost in somebody’s basement with their grandmother’s musty wedding dress and their Deep Purple LPs.

So essentially, the label on the exhibit said:

Except, oops, this isn’t really it.


That afternoon, we returned to the British Museum. Or the UnBritish Museum, rather.

Nothing in the British Museum is British. Really, it’s just a monument to imperialism. If you are not British, and you’re missing some of your stuff, it’s probably here.

Still, they have some pretty cool stuff. Remember what I said about mummies? The gawkers around these guys were so thick, I nearly caught in elbow in the face whilst taking this shot...


Friday night we met up with Our Rob, who took us out for drinks with his work friends and introduced us as “My Americans.” They asked him how he met us, and he looked at me as if I was going to explain that we met on the Internet and try to make it sound like it isn’t awkward. No, sir. If they were my friends, I would lie bold-faced about that shit. In fact, if he ever comes to the States to visit, I already have a bold-faced lie ready.

Then he took us back to his place and made dinner for us, all the while mocking our attempts at fake British accents. Which I think are pretty good, by the way.

Now S may be the only person in the world I’d be able to handle spending 24/7 with for two weeks, but on Saturday, circumstances forced us to spend a little time apart. She had a friend from home coming to town for the day on her way to Scandinavia, and one of our hostel roommates just happened to have an extra VIP pass to Hard Rock Calling.


So S went out to see “Twelfth Night” with her friend, and Dave and I went to Hyde Park to rock out. If there’s a guitar involved in something, I’m probably happy, so I had an awesome day. I even enjoyed watching John Mayer, and I am, as a matter of principle (and a result of hanging out with indie musicians), not a John Mayer fan. He was actually kind of funny, and you can’t deny he has some skill with a guitar, so I’ve gained a new appreciation for him that I never would have gotten from listening to CDs. Among the other performers were up-and-comer Jason Mraz, the always fabulous Sheryl Crow, and the headliner – Eric Clapton. Clapton's a little old for me and not someone I get very excited about, but again, seeing him live made all the difference.

And hey, no complaints about spending the day with an Aussie. I did miss S and her antics though.

What we lack in knowledge...

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