Day 14: The Slade, Geek Toruisting-Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who
Wednesday 29 Jun 2011 - Wednesday 29 Jun 2011 70 °F
Today began with a brief visit to the Slade College of Art and Design, part of University College London. This time, I was not able to get an appointment or talk to anyone or see the facilities. Sometime at the beginning of June, the faculty and most of the staff leave on vacation to do research, and the replies I got to my emails over the past year have basically amounted to "if you cannot make it to the scheduled post-graduate tour days in October or February, then you're out of luck." Their phrasing sounded much more British, but that was the gist of it. So today's visit was mainly just to see where it is and to pick up a prospectus (both of which I did) and if lucky, see inside (which I didn't).
The rest of the afternoon was spent with Geek Touristing. I first took the underground to Baker St and visited the Sherlock Holmes Museum. This is an old building that has been designated as 221B, since the original site is now an office flat. The Museum has been done up in such a way that each room is either a replica of Holmes and Watson's digs, or has trophies and displays. There was an old gentleman in the parlor who told me he was Holmes. I thanked him for allowing me to look around and take photos, and he was quite pleased to pose for a photo himself. The items in the museum were clearly chosen and laid out to satisfy Holmes geeks as well as tourists, from the correspondence knifed to the mantlepiece, tobacco store in a Persian slipper, the pictures of Lord Gordon and Queen Victoria, and so forth. It was fun to visit, and I was tempted to buy all sorts of Holmesian souvenirs, but refrained.
Afterwards, I took the underground to the Olympia Exhibition Centre where the Doctor Who Experience is. This was a clever, interactive tour that takes you through the highlights of the "Crack in Time" season of Doctor Who. The Doctor (shown only on screens and never in person), played by Matt Smith, has been trapped in another Pandorica ("They had an extra--and they didn't even change the color!") and needs your help to get out. I'm not quite clear what help we actually provided, although we did get to pilot the Tardis briefly. Anyway, I was retained with extermination by Daleks, walked through a forest full of Weeping Angels, flung into a time vortex and attacked by Daleks, Cybermen and Weeping Angels, only to be saved in the end by the Doctor, who managed to get free. I had a great time and I think that kids would be amazed.
The post tour portion is a sort of Doctor Who Museum with costumes and props, many original, from the entire series. There is a gallery of doctors with their distinctive consumes on display, as well as a companions gallery, monsters and rogues gallery. Also on display is the original Tardis from the 70s, Tardis interiors and of course the current Doctor and his Tardis. After seeing all the things that went into them, I think I will actually have to watch some of those original shows.
I dropped my souvineers back at my hotel and wandered out again. As this was my last night in London, I wanted to do something other than sit in the hotel room. I found one of the rare caves that have free wireless and set about updating my blog while watching the city rush past my window. All those people with places to go, things to do, so wrapped up in their day to day lives I wonder if they ever see the beauty that is all around them. I find London an odd city of contradictions. At ground level, much of the city has been modernized, with glass and chrome, stainless steel and concrete replacing the wood, brass and stone that was the past. With good reason, too. Shops want display windows, offices want light, wheelchairs need access and so many bits of our modern world infringe on the world that was. But if you look up, above the ground floor, you will see marvels. Gargoyles, statues, decorative scrollwork, window trimmings, brickwork, friezes, crests and heraldic icons, men and beasts and more. All these things lurk just above the eye gaze of the rushing masses. Do they see them? Do they even know they exist? Your guess is as good as mine.
The cafe closed at 8:00 so it was time to search for dinner. I found a Tandoori House, called the Tandoori House, not far from my hotel and tried their non-vegetarianm Thali, essentially a combo plate. It had tandoori chicken, curried chicken with coconut and a spicy lamb dish that I missednthe name of, served with nan and rice. Yum. It was all delicious and the staff was great.
Tomorrow I fly out of here and head back to the states. I has a sad.