Leaving London

It’s 4:45am. More jetlag. Good thing Jo has a computer 🙂 We’re leaving at around 11 for the airport. It only takes about an hour to get to Amsterdam. It will be very sad to say good-bye to Jo, but very fun to be in Amsterdam.

Soho was fun. Not as many queers as I was expecting, but some really good ‘tea and cakes’. I am really amazed about how there is such a strong feeling of history here. Something we don’t really have in the U.S. since it’s so new.

Even though a lot of the history is of horrible things, it is strangely refreshing to see it remembered and honored, instead of buried and forgotten. Some of it is the old buildings. They are kind of like history books in a way. Westminster Abbey was very much like that. So many things here are. When we were in Greenwich walking along the Thames in between pubs, we stopped at Jim’s flat. It used to be part of the Seamen’s Hospital. It was a really cool, old apartment that had this big heavy metal door w/big lockdowns on the top and bottom. We also passed right by the Cutty Sark. That is one cool ship! It was right across from some house where some Queen or princess used to live. I can’t remember who it was, but she had the buildings in front of her house split so they wouldn’t spoil her view of the Thames.

The other thing that is very different is how, in general, people seem to be so straight-forward. My favorite thing so far were the signs in the Underground. A couple of days ago, a train derailed. I don’t think anyone was hurt, but it was a pretty big deal. The next day in all of the tube stations, there were these big white signs that you really couldn’t miss that had a public apology signed by the General Manager of the Underground. I couldn’t imagine anything even remotely like that happening in the U.S. I couldn’t imagine any public official taking responsibility for anything here, not even someone so low on the totem pole like the head BART guy. And a public apology that was so highly visible and not buried on page 10 mixed in w/the obituaries was almost beyond my american imagination. The closest thing I could imagine was that someone would blame it on the terrorists with absolutely no facts to back it up. Even the warnings on the cigarettes are straight forward. They are in big letters on the big side of the box, and say things like “Smoking Kills” and “Smokers Die Young”. Karen saw something on the telly the other night that was on some news channel like CNN. It was a bunch of people, maybe reporters, asking very pointed questions to Tony Blair. If they didn’t like or believe the answers, he had to defend them, and they gave him a pretty hard time. Couldn’t imagine that happening back home either. Not without a preprepared speech and someone there to cut things off when they got too controversial and/or too hard for GW to answer. It is like another world.

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