". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Wrong Turns Are The Right Turns - London 3

Because it was brilliant autumn sunshine and supposed to be 75 today we left early in the morning for Regent's Park again so Foxessa could visit Queen Mary's Gardens. Quickly ot turned overcast, the wind was persistently ungentle. Rain began as we entered the Inner Circle within which lies Queen Mary's Gardens. We took refuge in the Cafe, which caters to a clientele that ranges from tourists such as we, regulars, local schools' tennis and soccer teams tournaments and practices, local tennis players, to figures who seem to believe they are participants in the lifestyles presented by the Top Music Videos channel which plays relentlessly on the television. The Cafe provides various sports amenities and equipment for sale,  and changing rooms -- locker rooms for we USians -- presumably for a membership fee.

While sharing a scone and drinking hot chocolate a vid showed up that was interesting in all kinds of ways: "Turn Me On" (2011). OK.  Queen Mary's roses, Jubilee Gates, i.e. Queen Elizabeth's big celebration this summer.  And ... this.  Scary, but elegantly imaginative. Makes the vids of  Ms. Crude Palmer, look the pathetically talentless attempts they are.

The sun returned. The Royal Academy of Music at York Gate, yes! and the exquisite attached three-floor museum, with research rooms and rehearsal halls.

Passed up the opportunity to stand in queue to see Bruce Willis and Marvel superheroes be wax at Madame Toussaint's.

However, because I wanted, we did move across to Baker Street.  Somehow it was appropriate that we changed my remaining $150 into pounds on Baker Street.

Getting confused by then we made the wrong turn and encountered a confab going on in front of the Angolan Embassy.  El V greets them in Portuguese, and  progressed from there.  He was thrilled.  Among other things, he learned today at the UN General Assembly UNESCO was meeting to finally create the church in M'banza Kongo an International Heritage Site. This provides him a hook for the article he needs to write about the M'banza Kongo part of the Angolan trip. The head fellow standing there is from M'banza Kongo, so this is more than excellent.

We've gotten turned around. Both of us are hurting like, well, we are.  I'm limping.  We stop at the Duke of York pub, where yes, from a cask pull, the Czech beer from yesterday is also available.  This time I got the name, Staropramen, which They Say Who Know is a middling beer according to Czech standards. Those standards are much higher than those in the U.S.  I hope the Czechs know how much more fortunate in their beer they are than we with those over-hopped, over perfumed, over ingrediented microbrews overhyped in every locality in the country now.  I'll take a Staropramen over a Brooklyn hop extremist micro brew any and every day.

We've had the greatest day! we blither at each other! We speculate which Duke of York the pub is named for -- el V pulling for Charles II's brother, who became King James II (1633–1685), the biggest royal slave trader ever! me for the Prince Frederick, House of Hanover (1784 - 1827), because this area was developed by John Nash in Frederick's lifetime -- the Regency, Regent's Park, etc., you know?*

We pour over the catalog we bought in the Royal Music Society's Museum, which dissects section-by-section John Perry's "A London Street Scene," -- and I complain I wrote all this down in my notebook, and if I'd known about the catalog before-hand, I could have saved myself all that work, yet I'm glad I did it, because I feel such a connection to its explosive energy, that is of that era, because I spent so much time looking at it blitherblitherblither. El V blithers about the pianos and their history as instruments and how splendid the Museum's collection is, and how Ellio, the piano player in Las Vidas Perfectas is going to envy him seeing these pianos -- and a virginal! -- and music and the musical theater U.S. and London connections in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the slave trade and Jim Crow in theatrical musical history and the history African Americans. We marvel how welcoming, helpful, knowledgable everyone at the museum was.  I rapture over the curators of the Dickens and London Music exhibit: so small, so dense, so informative, so coherent even in the manner of how Dickens would resolve a plot, so informative -- and the more you know about all these matters the more the exhibit speaks to you, and you learn things you didn't know! AND the museum has all these conveniently placed chairs  -- with backs and pillows -- on which to sit while taking notes. AND they never tell you not take pictures, they ask if they can make it easier for you.

We get lost again, but we read the helpful street maps and get back on track to home base.

The same thing happens in the second pub we stopped into for more than recuperation and rejuvenation. By now we've earned our dinner, and base camp is only about five more blocks away. Thank goodness. This time it was discussion around reviewing our digital photos that provoked the join-in. As well as el V speaking Portuguese with the new Brasilera bartender, who had been there for only a month.

Even though I can hardly move and the pain is off the charts, this was a Great Day. I can't help it. I really love being in London.

El V's got his first London rehearsal tomorrow.

* I'm right about which Duke of York the pub's named for. I didn't think to ask them because they must get asked tourist questions all the time -- imagine what it must have been like for them, with the Jubilee and the Olympics both in the same summer -- even though this isn't exactly Paddington Station, it's walking distance to Lord's Cricket Stadium / Ground -- we passed it twice, and people were taking photos. Also, in NYC quite often you ask someone who lives / works close to an historical marker and they never heard of the figure or the event. (This is the same Duke of York for which New York state and New York City is named, so I've  been interested in him since the fourth grade when we learned about that.)

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