QXZ's London Invasion, Part Five
back to part four
That one burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp
Blackbird singing in the dead of night.
Sunny! Joy. Today's the Tower of London.
Got almost no sleep last night. Miriam's goddamn French-accented voice ripping through the door for hours. Head under pillow, still vibrates the bed. How do these people function on three hours' sleep? In bed by three, up around six? God.
Also, it seems every other resident of the hostel has a hacking cough. Good thing I'm not there much.
Toasted ham & cheese and an OJ, and I'm out.
Inside the Tower of London. The guided tour was hugely entertaining. Now in Wakefield Tower, at the chapel where King Henry IV was murdered. Light through the stained glass illuminates a stone set into the floor commemorating the occasion, May 21, 1471.
How long must it take to carve your name into the stone of your prison walls? Not just names; sentences, paragraphs, diagrams, whole reliefs, an outline of your hand. Not scratched... carved. Deeply. And often with great detail.
DeBeers ("patron saint of young ladies", as the Beefeater referred to them) has "lent" over 21,000 diamonds to the Tower so as to demonstrate how many diamonds were once in a particular crown. Over 21,000. Yeah, diamonds are rare these days, huh?
Two of the Tower ravens held very still while I photographed them. They looked straight at me the whole time.
The Bloody Tower was entirely about Raleigh, with no indication of where the Princes may have been murdered.
The Crown Jewels are, in a word, intense. Precious stones and gold in quantities I've never seen before, but also carrying the weight of power. These things are "in use". These objects represent the Queen and her reign. Of course, this mood is well set by the coronation videos you pass by while in line to see the jewels. Equally impressive and symbolic are the four-foot thick vault doors guarding all of this.
Was able to get up close and personal with two ravens on the steps to the White Tower. They really are quite captivating. Much more dignity and, well, gravitas than crows have, though maybe I'm biased by the setting.. Ha! This one just cawed at me. I guess that's as close to "nevermore" as I'm likely to get.
Left the Tower at 4:20, after almost four hours and a tour of the arms exhibit in the White Tower. Wonderful place. I think I've been interested in the Tower of London since I was 11 or 12 years old, so finally seeing it was great fun. Caught several mini changings of the guard, too. Great theater.
Crossed the Thames on Tower Bridge. I'd intended to use the upper walkway, but a nearly £6.00 fee diminished my enthusiasm for that. Besides, it was closed.
Walked west on the river walk down to London Bridge (the third? fourth?), into Southwark, then stopped at a Jenny's Restaurant for fast food.
Ah. They've brought me vinegar for my "chips". I experiment with it. It's not bad, but the smell is too reminiscent of my tear gas experience to be truly appetizing.
...This train goes to Ealing/Broadway. Goodbye, pretty bicycle girl. Goodbye...
Back at the hostel I braved the shower and feel much better. Discovered that the whisky French Drinker's been sucking down is literally generic. It has a black and white label reading:
and then a barcode. Further small print claims it was distilled and blended in Leith, Scotland. For what it's worth.
Excerpted from QXZ's travel diary, 12/4/01.
QXZ endorses nothing.
Back to Part Four
Forward to Part Six