Monthly Archives: April 2006

london is a victoria the size of L.A.

(By the way, folks, I don’t have access to LJ. The internet service
here at the hostel blocks it for some obscure reason. I cannot read
ANY blogs until I get off my lazy ass and take my laptop to go jack
someone’s wifi. And it’s one thing to do that with my Vonage phone,
as I have been – but another to do it with a whole laptop in London
rain)

This is my third day in London. Today, I walked from Westminster
through St James Park, and then a bit into Hyde before coming back to
catch the tube and return to the British Museum for a second go. But
when I walked into St. James Park, I actually spontaneously started
crying. Because it looks so much like Beacon Hill, back in Victoria,
and I’m always, somewhere, at the back of my mind, homesick for
Victoria.

Even in London. Because here, there is the Britishness I grew up with
– but not the feeling of being on the edge of the world that made
Victoria so special. London looks very different than Victoria, and
yet I catch, in a sense, the underlying themes and currents that the
homesick colonials built onto the Island. Maybe it’s the northern
latitude light, maybe it’s the buildings (the originals that my
hometown has knocked off), maybe it’s just being someplace where the
Queen’s face is on the money. This is the original that Victoria takes
inspiration from, and this feels a bit like a Victoria the size of
L.A.

And really, it just makes me long to go stand on the edge of the
Island and look out across the Straits. It makes me long, more than
ever, for the Pacific Northwest, where I can walk out from amongst the
neat brick buildings and old stone buildings, and look out at the
mountains and ocean. I wish I had time to go out to Cornwall or
Wales, or up to Cumbria where my father grew up. Those would be
places that, I think, would satisfy that longing.

But today, as I said, I walked a lot. And then I went to the BM
again. AND THE ROMAN BRITAIN EXHIBIT WAS CLOSED.

(**nerd alert**)

British history is one of my hobby areas of study. Others are the
American West, Settlement Of and Los Angeles, City Of. But I have a
running fascination with Early Britain, or, Everything Up To Elizabeth
I (who is one of my historical heroes, and I can’t wait for the HBO
series). I’m especially fascinated by the history that actually
makes up my DNA My father’s family have been in Carlisle
forever, up in Cumbria, and there’s a fairly decent chance that
they have been there since they were known as the tribe of Britons.

So I REALLY wanted to see the exhibits on Roman Britain, particularly
the Mildenhall Treasure. I read a Roald Dahl nonfiction short story
of how that treasure was found, seventy years ago, and was enthralled.
But it was not available. I still had lots to fascinate myself with
though. There was lots of early medieval art and household items,
things which tell us how people lived two thousand years ago. And
there was the entire Sutton Hoo burial mound exhibit, burial mounds
that contained household items up to and including an entire ship. I
was transfixed staring at artifact after artifact, imagining these
tribes and civilizations of the early British Isles, that have since
been overshadowed in our historic consciousness by the Romans who
conquered them.

I also am fascinated by the era immediately following Rome’s fall –
the idea of Angles and Saxons building in the ruined villages. It’s a
startling image, the fall of a civilization, and the rise of the next.

(** end nerd alert ** )

Tonight, I was actually out at ElectroFest, in Camden. Yes, I am in
Camden a lot. It is the Silverlake of London. But that’s a whole
separate writeup, because I saw a couple of my favorite synthpop
artists, and some seriously solid industrial, and thoroughly enjoyed
myself so much that I forgot I was there on my own.

Oh, and dufresne is here now to keep me company! But he’s
out, and I’m not, and now I think it’s time to go wipe the eyeliner
off with Boots brand face wipes, and catch some sleep. Tomorrow is my
last day of exploring historical Londinium.

london :: day the second

It’s just after one in the morning, as I’m writing this post by email
in the very smoky Generator hostel lounge. I opted AGAINST going to
Slimelight tonight, just because it’s already 1am, and the thought of
getting dressed back up and walking to Islington (about a mile) is
just too much right now. I walked all day with chai_tea_latte, after all, AND then missed the bus from Camden
and had to walk back from there (another mile or so) and now I’m
tired, dammit. I’m sure I’ll regret not going later, but right now,
my bed is more appealing than a goth club dance floor.

Actually, Kate will post about this too, but I’m just having a really
klutzy day. Being hung over makes me clumsy, and it shows. So I’m
tripping over my own feet and dropping things and breaking them. Like
when we were having dessert tonight, in a shop called Coffee, Cake and
Kink. It was a coffeeshop, with coffee in French presses, and sex
toys on the walls. But it was brightly lit and cheerful, and the
displays were very pretty. I actually stopped to pick up a box on
display, a small novelty kit, and promptly dropped it, breaking a vial
of some sort of lubricant. Of course, I paid for the rest of the kit.
And I will probably send it, as a gift, to someone who has more need
of it than I do.

That wasn’t the only incident, either. When getting on the bus to go
up to Camden to pub hop earlier this evening, I actually slipped and
fell on the curb. And my leg went under the bus, and the velvet flat
I was wearing slid off. I got up, laughing, but slightly scared. Falling under a double decker bus is not a non-threatening experience.

But I didn’t break any other glasses at the bar, or drop anything
else. chai_tea_latte will also probably tell about the
hilarious start to my day, so I’ll leave that to her. Suffice it to
say that, due to slight hangover and exhaustion, Day Two in London was
successful, just incident riddled.

Actually, Day Two was ridiculously successful. I saw a lot of London,
and we walked two miles along the Thames. We saw the Egyptian section
of the British Museum. We walked around the Tower of London. We saw
the outside of the Parliament Buildings. Tomorrow, I’ll finish the
BM, and try to take a tour of Westminster before I go to Electrofest. Being home early tonight means earlier start time.

Maybe I should add – last night I was out until almost 3. I met other
Canadians at Xtro, which was another goth/electro night. Canadians
and a handful of other Euros. I ended up chatting with them and
dancing to VNV Nation remixes and generally having a good time – right
up until two days without real sleep caught up with me and I went home
to crash. I also made it to the Devonshire Arms, which was a whole
pub filled with goths, with a DJ spinning much of my favorite music. I like it here.

I’m out of time on my terminal. I like London though. How could I not?

let’s hope this works…

I am officially on my ancestral soil in England! To exact, in Camden,
at the hostel I’m staying at. I’m also drinking a £1 Strongbow, which
almost makes up for the £4.50 chili on baked potato I had for dinner.

I’m posting by email so I have no idea if this will go through – but
I’m off to go explore London. By which I mean, ‘make new friends at
goth locations’.

For the record, Virgin Atlantic in-flite entertainment rocks – I
watched two movies, four episodes of the American ‘The Office’ and was
able to check the plane’s progress on an interactive map.

London is…well, I’m still in shock at being here. I can only see
the small details, like how much extreme West London and Heathrow
looked just like Richmond (as in the Vancouver suburb)…or maybe it’s
just that anyplace without palm trees looks the same to me now. It’s
surreal to actually be in England, after being raised half-British in
an English colony. It’s like when I got to New Orleans for the first
time – I’d dreamed of that for so long. This is even more extreme,
because I’ve waited my whole life to be here.

out of time, more 2morrow

london calling (day zero)

I’m leaving for London in…nineteen hours! And being as all jet-setty as I am, I am flying Virgin Atlantic. Who have quite the list of amenities, even in economy.

I’m set to go to visit a couple goth events in London on Friday night, and I have a membership card waiting for me at the biggest goth club in Paris. I’m planning my attack strategy for getting through as much of the London museums as I can, because I am a ridiculous history nerd. I’ve realized that all the Futurama-in-French has paid off, and my French is way better than it was two months ago. And I’ve photocopied my passports and credit cards, sent out contact info, and prepared to be an International Traveller for the next ten days.

I think I’m ready to go. This is really it. I’m actually going to see two of the world’s greatest cities. It’s still unreal.

I’ll check in from the UK, unless I am delayed.

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four days to go (geeking out in sunshine)

I am a locally recognized name now, thanks to b.la!

Last night, I stopped by a friend’s birthday party (at a bowling alley), and found out that one of his friends had actually recognized my name on the eVite. “Is that the Jillian who writes for blogging.la?” he asked my friend. Who wasn’t quite sure. But when the next question was, “the political activist?” then he knew, same girl.

This happens occasionally now. My name is recognized as a Local Blogger. And I like that a lot. I don’t really crave fame, but I do like being a little larger than life, just enough to be noticeable. And if my particular brand of recognizability comes from blogging and being a geek, that’s even better.

I also met up with more of the geek community at the BarCamp reunion dinner last week. The geek community here is rapidly growing and coalescing, and I’m delighted to be here to see it and be part of it. I love hearing about and being part of the next movement of online. The Internet has been so fascinating to me as a social shift that it’s exciting for me to hear about how it’s being tweaked and applied to more and more uses. Google Maps mashups, wiki-anything, blogs, RSS, clusters, tags, Web 2.0, I love it all. It reminds me a bit of the concept of a “wet net” in Snow Crash (oh god, that was nerdy) because the Internet, in 2006, is shifting towards collaborative data efforts. We may not all have the nanites in our blood and brains to apply our mental powers to a common task, but we sure are applying a lot of collective thought and data with the shift towards wiki-thinking.

So that’s what it means to me to be at a BarCamp event – to be in a place with a group of people who are all sharing ideas. And who, better still, are sharing ideas based on technology, and social changes made possible by technology, and communication made possible…you get the idea. I explained all this to Mom when I went to the original BarCamp, and finally just said, “Mom, do you remember how you always told me that I would meet people like me when I left the Island? That’s why I like the geek community.” It’s awesome, for me, to be around other people who are oriented towards tech, and using it to push the Internet forward into still more social change. This is watching history – and history is always entwined with technology and innovation.

Right now, I’m gearing up to put on sweatpants and go get some cardio in, in the form of biking up to the gym. It’s delightful outside, with clear spring-in-SoCal sunshine. And I’m having one of those days where I’m delighted with my life. Part of this is the shift to spring and summer, the end of my winter season depression extreme. Part of it is just that life is really good right now. Because I’m going to go outside and into Venice Beach, my beloved neighborhood. I’ll go to the open-walled Venice gym and read a magazine and listen to music while I work out, with sunshine and ocean air pouring into the cardio area. And then I’m going to come home and do a little more preparation towards leaving for London in four days. Life’s usually pretty good for me, but right now? this week? this year? it’s fucking awesome to be Jillian.