Posts Tagged ‘London’

Hardwick Hall

Turning for a bit of dry British humor, in the writings of that famous wit Oscar Wilde. We are following professor Andy Smith, closely reading passages from The Canterville Ghost and walking stately rooms of Hardwick Hall, with its heavy draperies, faded tapestries, turned furniture and gothic-plastered ceilings.

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FutureLearn, week 2

This week’s installment is slightly improved – apart from spot of anecdotes regarding the word “spots” – which, apparently, meant “sins” in 17th century and habitually referred to Puritans as well as baby nappies – we are taken into the High Great Chamber at Hardwick Hall built by Bess of -you guessed!- Hardwick and told at length about traveling companies of actors. Some interesting information; I didn’t think, f.i., that when traveling troupe took the name of their aristocratic patron it was a form of advertizing for said patron as well as actors.

To appreciate the magnificence of the famous windows one must see them from the inside. Ceiling heights are enormous, and it is amazing how much uninterrupted glass it was possible to produce in Elizabethan England.

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Copying here the agenda I am going thru right now:
Week 1: Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire

Photograph of Bolsover Castle

This is a strange and quirky holiday home, the Little Castle was completed around 1619, after having been designed by the great English architects Robert and John Smythson. It is adorned with magnificent wall paintings and ornate chimneypieces. It was a favourite residence of William Cavendish, later duke of Newcastle, and his second wife, Margaret. Margaret was one of the most important women writers of 17th century England, and we will read a portion of a letter that she published in ‘Sociable Letters’ (1664). That letter describes a ‘hurly burly’, or commotion at a dinner party. We also will look at a significant piece of countryside, Churchdale, where local people rioted against enclosures, and we will connect those riots to Ben Jonson’s early 17th century poem, ‘To Penshurst’. Bolsover is an English Heritage property.

First several chapters of this week’s reading has been devoted to understanding what “close reading” is, using exerpts from Shakespeare’s 12th Night. As someone who lived through Soviet school with its mandated classroom analysis of classical literature I’ll tell you: the subject is all to familiar to me – and I really can do without. The reason I joined the course was to get closer to architecture of beautiful English manor houses and learn few historical anecdotes along the way, to exercise my failing memory. Not to get back to boring Q&As of the type “-What did the author wanted to say by…XYZ?” “Describe the character of female protagonist in your own words…”, “Was the last paragraph ironic, serious or comical?”, etc etc etc.

Half-way through the week’s lesson and still no mention of architecture…what am I doing wasting this valuable Saturday, on a beautiful day like this?

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Via casual mention by fellow courserian on Roman Architecture I came to another free online education site, this one based in UK, Future Learn.

Browsing through available courses I found one that I can’t resist:

Literature of the English Country House.


Say instructors, Jim and Susan Fitzmaurice @ University of Sheffield:


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New Flickr features

Thanks to esteemed C.G. Hill I just learned that Flickr had increased the amount of accessible storage for free users and that means all my photos years back are now accessible.

Yes, my famous in certain [tiny] circles  5yo reportage from UK  is now open for your delectation! Enjoy it as I do; that was the last carefree vacation I had, if only for a week. I say it almost as wistfully as my grandparents  used to say “before the War”…



If you, like me, are curious how much storage you have already used, even if you have a free account and not eligible for Stats, do what Flickr’ Customer Care advised me to do: “Just hover your mouse pointer over your small user icon on the top-right of the page. A pop-up window with links to Setting, Flickrmail and Help will appear, along with a status bar with a number indicating how much space you have used.”

Like so:



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Magic time

Evelyn the Winter Fairy

[via Vaca-Vaca]

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I have a baseball bat and a 6x D cell maglite…in black[...]
** don’t worry, enviroloons, I have fitted an LED bulb.

Tim Carpenter, Libertarian party UK, reacting to Brian M’ post re: riots in England

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Victorian splendor

This post, about opening of [finally restored] St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, induced me to think aloud in the comments. I’m glad I saw the pictures in DailyMail, found by Irene; they made me crystallize my own vague thoughts, to formulate my unverbalized contempt for late Victorians and their rotten Empire.  I’ll copy my comment here, as a precaution (there were precedents @ChicagoBoyz when my comments were deleted by the author of the post who did not approve of them). I edited for grammar and personal notes/addresses and added few clarifying sentences. [Now with Update]


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Caucasian girls

I just learned that Katie Melua, a British star singer-songwriter, was born in Georgia. From Lady freaking Gaga (“freaking” is a correct classifier) to this astonishing artist  – it’s all Caucasus, people! The engine of civilizations…


See also – this one is my favorite.

Ahahaha! “Write Xmas in Georgian!”

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Ascot, part II

Ladies, ladies! Please, you’re embarrassing!
Click on the photo for more, in Vaca-vaca’s  LiveJournal!

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Vaca-vaca visited Royal Ascot and posted hilarious report and photos.

What question, do you think, came to my mind after looking at this picture?

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Find 10 differences

Sherlock Holmes' flat: R. Stutler

Isegoria links to Russel Stutler’s birds-view of 221 Baker Street’ flat, an excellent illustration thoroughly – even obsessively – researched.

Let me offer several photos I have taken in the apartment under the same address in August’08 – you can judge now how well the museum curators did research of their own.

PS. Try not get distracted by a charming young lady occupying Mr. Holmes’ favorite armchair and don’t attempt to ask me for introduction – her identity is safe with me as long as her parents did not expressly allow me to reveal it. [waves in general direction of Marylebone Station]

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Определился паттерн. Хоть и всего из 3х случаев, но выявился. Господа, дался вам этот укротитель строптивых!

В сентябре 2007, в первый раз за много лет пошла я на встречу с классикой в БАМ. До того, конечно, был усвоенный в ср. школе трепет, Смоктуновский в фильме 60х, сонеты и Пугачихина интертрепация (именно так); всё, разумеется, в переводах на русский и в прочтении Маршака, или Чуковского, или Лозинского (а, может, и Пастернака…тепрь уже не помню).

Впечатление было сильное. Описано ещё вот тут.

Второй случай, полтора года тому. (more…)

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Brian calls it “a history lesson“. More like a Lesson in historical revisionism.

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Quote of the day

Britain suffers from abused spouse syndrome.

(commenter Dan Collins @ thread to this article by Melanie Phillips)

Update: here’s a contender, by a later commenter Phil

No need for Geert Wilders to speak to the House of Lords. The House of Lords has well made Wilders’ point by forbidding him to speak

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Yes, I do have regrets…

regrets that I had only one week!

Week of density. Plans were adjusting, intentions correcting, sun played hide-and-seek, landscapes were changing rapidly, faces and mannerisms clicking into mental images of people I have only met online. (more…)

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Am I going to regret it?

During my last minute-before-departure reading about my destination a certain kind of info started to collect itself…or maybe it became revealed to me only now.

A few quotes from posts I have read before – and even agreed with – attained certain meaning when combined together.

Like this one, from this post

Non-Londoners often complain that most people in London are unfriendly.

And something from the thread to it:

I loved London right up till a couple of years after leaving the place. Then, one day, I visited and realised I hated it with a vengeance. I always say that I can take about five minutes on the tube before I want to kill people, and I think I’m sort of joking, and then I visit again and no, turns out I’m not… The problem isn’t unfriendliness; unfriendliness is no problem at all. The problem is outright hostility. And I say that as a Londoner myself. I think there’s a certain level of barstadity that you just get used to when you live there and so don’t notice. If you once stay away for long enough for that to wear off, it’s tricky to go back.

And then today I recalled three ex-Londoners I know (one – personally, two – online), who actually emigrated from Britain to the US, who finds attitudes here much more friendly and nice; one of those people in particular listed this as a reason for emigration.

[Edited later] Now I recall a bit of conversation I had a few days ago, at my former company’s reunion, at a roof bar of the Roosevelt hotel. One of my ex-coworkers, Anthony, got very excited after hearing of my vacation plans (that, and about 10 gallons of beer). He spent in London 6 months about 2 yrs ago. “You gonna have a great time!”, he said – “roaring good time! but remember – don’t ignore those beggars. They are nothing like the subway bums here – old, crazy, smelly losers. In London, it s an occupation of the young. The beggars are barely from teenage years, fit, lean, muscular and dirty-mouthed. Keep a 10-15 of 1pound notes in your purse at all times – or you’ll be sorry”.

In the flow of the party I sort of glossed over these unwelcome news, but now…[/edit]

I thought my sudden awareness is colored by two recent encounters that left me pondering our [real or proverbial] cultural differences, but – here it is, in black and white, not a figment of my possibly inflamed imagination! Today, realizing I’ll not be taking advantage of Labor Day last-summer-outing to the shore I went to the Long Beach; lying on the sand with a copy of “Let’s Go! London” I stumbled upon this sentence:

“Remember to stand to the right and walk on the left on escalators, or risk a rude tumbling from commuters in full stride.”

And then on this one:

“Bus conductors may refuse some passengers at the stop with the looks of scorn during busy periods”.

And this one:

“Acting the befuddled foreigner will not get you off the hook”

And later, note the curious verb:

“These two venerable venues [Theatre Royal and the Opera House] lend a feeling of civility to the area…” So without those two the area is, apparently, lacking in civility?

I know, I can just hear you say – “you live in NY, you should be used to such, should we say, unceremoniousness “. True, sometimes commute encounters leave me wishing for a personal helicopter as means of reaching my office. But…this is my vacation, a break, a chance to recuperate! Am I going to find myself in a hard place after escaping the rock?

Maybe I should have gone to Alaska, after all…

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