I’m leaving London on a high speed train operated by Virgin Trains. That company is everywhere in London, offering wireless calling services, air travel, and music stores. It was started by 70s-era tycoon Richard Branson about whom I know little except that he is all hair and teeth and I saw him once, unprovoked, throw water on Steven Colbert.
The British Library, where Marx wrote Das Kapital, is now separate from the British Museum and is located in a modern building next to St. Pancras Train Station. This is where the Magna Carta is housed and displayed, together with other original texts including the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest complete copy of the New Testament (described in the accompanying materials as “a jewel beyond price”), and several exceptional illuminated manuscripts.
The Library also allows visitors to listen to James Joyce reading a passage from Finnegan’s Wake. Although it did not aid my understanding of that book, it was interesting to hear Joyce’s lyrical reading. Cecil Day Lewis reads several Wilfred Owen poems including Dulce et Decorum Est. The Library has the much interlineated manuscript of J.G. Ballard’s Crash on display and some Beatles stuff. It was easy to spend the morning there.
I went to Harrods department store, although I am hard pressed to explain why. I wouldn’t go again as it is a stupid and boring place. I did buy a shirt at a shop on Jermyn Street.
The Tate Modern Museum is just south of the Thames River, across from St. Paul’s Cathedral. They have quite an interesting collection including pieces by Picasso, the Surrealists, a very good Jackson Pollock and portraiture by Meredith Frampton, whose work I was not familiar with. The museum had a section on humor in art that I liked a lot. David Shrigley had hand written the words “SANTA CLAUS IS NOT EVIL. THERE IS NO NEED FOR ME TO DEFEND MYSELF AGAINST HIM” over and over on a sheet of notebook paper, and had other cartoons that were funny.
I had planned to visit the recreation of the Globe Theater, which sits right next to the Tate Modern, but was tired and footsore and so crossed the Millennium Bridge and caught the Tube back to the hotel.
The weather was gorgeous on my last full day in London. I caught up on laundry and then spent time in Regents Park, where the tulips are up and the trees are leafing out. You could smell lilacs all over the Park and there were thousands enjoying the Spring there after what was a very hard winter. I also had to make arrangements for my onward travel and decided to go to Ireland. I got what I considered to be an incredible bargain on a train and ferry excursion to Dublin and took the underground to Euston Station in order to pick up the tickets.
There was a lot I didn’t see in London, and I didn’t really see much of England outside the City. Next time.