How do I unpack the week and a half I’ve been here? I can’t collect my thoughts well enough to record a video. As I look back on the time since my arrival a week since this past Wednesday, I’m stunned at how much I’ve already done without even being a tourist. One of my goals in coming here for such an extended stay (and let’s not kid ourselves – five months is a LONG TIME to be away from home) is to go native, to live here, not just tour here. And so much of my time so far has been spent getting set up as a resident.
Byron, my friend and the game developer with whom I will be working while I’m here, picked me up from Heathrow Airport and immediately showed me the horror of the English freeway – s’cuse me, motorway – system. There are places that make L.A’s 405 look like a speedway. And what’s the first thing I see as we leave the airport grounds? A damn McDonalds. Not what I was expecting.
Byron’s wife, Susan – a vicar by profession – dropped us off at the Sanderstead train station (near Warlingham, the suburb where they live) to continue our ride into London.
We passed the former Battersea plant, which is a marvel of art deco architecture and a fixture in a lot of retro-SF films as well as being featured on the album cover of Pink Floyd’s “Animals.” It’s apparently about to become Apple’s new U.K. headquarters. Of course it would. I wasn’t able to get my phone out in time to snap a photo, but I’ll be back.
We arrived at Victoria Station, which is sort of like Grand Central Station for London. A hub where all the suburban rail lines, the Tube, and the buses all converge. It’s big, noisy, and kinda fun to be in.
From there, we hopped one of them there red double-decker buses London is so famous for. And we went straight past and through all the places people go to visit, including Buckingham Palace, Picadilly Circus, and the West End.
We got to central London and immediately went to the University of Westminster, where Byron had been offered a teaching gig. He was meeting to talk about the requirements of the class, while I, beginning to feel the effects of jet lag, went off to have my first international phone call with Carolyn, my spouse. Once the meeting was done, we hopped back onto a bus to my hotel where I could check in and chill. It had been a very busy morning/mid-day.
I spent my first four days as a sort of tourist, staying in London (Shoreditch, in fact – apparently a very hipster part of London these days). I stayed across the street from the Bunhill Cemetery (which got its name from a mispronounciation of Bone Hill), which has graves so old (as in, 17th century) that the engravings have eroded from the tombstones. William Blake and Daniel Defoe are buried there.
And of course, there are pigeons… EVERYWHERE!
(No tuppence for you flying rats!)
That’s enough for the present. There will be another entry shortly after this one, describing my time in London, followed by some documentation about my first bit of work.
(Note: why has it taken so long to post a new entry? Short answer -crappy internet. I needed to get to my guest house in Tatsfield before I had enough bandwidth to upload the videos and photos I’m using for this blog, and hotel wifi is horrific when it comes to upload speeds; those of you who follow me on Facebook will have seed a lot of additional photos and such, and I’ll continue to post quick snapshots there)