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Cultural Concubine Blog

Neither here nor there…

Tag Archives: London

Charming…

I am sure I have written about this pet hate of mine before…

Harrods.

Last weekend, upon arriving back in town by tube, the following happened…

After lugging a heavy suitcase up the stairs from the underworld of gnarly air and noisy trains, I had to swerve through the senseless shoppers on the busy back road behind Harrods…

Half way I got stopped by one of the doormen, sounding rather grumpy… He growled: No no no… heavy suitcases should go to entrance 2A on the other side…

Another good reason for avoidance…

I just looked up at him all astonishment and mumbled: Could you get out of the way please, I am trying to get home. If you don’t mind that is…

He stepped aside, but didnt even apologise.

No wonder locals avoid this place like the plague…

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Only in Britain...

Saw this on the way to the park this morning…

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Busy Lizzie...

Over the four years of living in London there is one main feature of British life that got away…

The Chelsea Flower Show.

The show features the greatest stars in garden design, splashing out on the most exquisite show gardens. Ranging from Australian and country gardens to an actual Stephen Hawking Garden…The Queen even came to have a look at that one…

More is better...

Then there is the Floral and Grand Pavilion showing off the thorough-bred plants of their race… Gold medals for the best in show are awarded by the RHS. As well as the bizzarrest new kinds you have ever seen.

The big themes this year seemed to be to get back to nature and planting to support bees and other fauna in the garden…

Best veggies in show, without parsnip tie regretfully...

Apart from the plants (like Cruft’s) there is the diversity of people to admire… You can easily recognise the owner of the ‘sweet pea’ nursery by his tie… (getting the right floral tie seems obligatory)

I truly regret that I didn’t have tickets this year, as these fly out well before the season…

The Mannequin doesnt look impressed...

This gardening show doesn’t only stay in the compounds of the exhibit itself. All kinds of shops around the council join in by planing greenery and bouquets of colours around their shop fronts… Even here the competition does not cease… making the window gardens reach great heights of complexity…

It is hard to describe how or why the art of gardening is so close to a Brit’s heart… It might be the undulating green lusciousness of this lovely island… Or may be the fact that you need something else than the weather to talk about…

Bumbling along...

As the rain pours down so frequently, at least you can raise your shoulders, pull an apologetic face and sigh: ‘At least it is good for the garden…’.

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Brass under the Board...

Today I have been traveling and on my way home from Bristol I found myself happily surprised…

Smack in the middle of Paddington Station was a full blown Brass & Woodwind Band!

After some inspection I found out this is a regular occurance, brought to all travelers by ‘The Great Western Railway Paddington Band

The band started in the ’20s as the railways company band and has been going since.

Their music is still perky and pretty good, playing little swinging foxtrots and quicksteps on the way home before the Bank holiday weekend…

Brass on Rails...

But it was the acoustics that really turned the event into a feast…
Paddington’s enormous Brunel Dome perfectly amplifies the sound and gives it an almost ghostlike floaty delay…Brilliant for Brass and Woodwind…

They play every Friday between 19.30 and 21.00 between Easter and Christmas.

There is just something distinctly civilised about traveling home with a swing in your step.

Only in Britain…

Next time I will bring a partner… Grin.

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Here we go...

Today is a special day for the Brits.
It is the State opening of Parliament…
All the troops are marched out, bands are pooping out the usual melodies, horses are groomed and trotting in line, chomping at the bit…

This is what all that practice in the park has been for, why all the Beef Eaters have been eating their beef…
It puts a shine on ‘ buttons and ever mans well-groomed shoes.
It puts the brilliance in British.

Let the show begin.
And God, do the Brits know how to do drama!

Everything is organised to the minute in this ceremony.
(I was very honoured to attend it two years ago)

Bling it on!

All people have a role, a timing, an action, a position and posture to go with it. (dont forget the tiara’s on the ladies of the lords)
The guards come to clear the perimeter, the Beef Eaters (Yeomen of the Guard) repeat the same to check for explosives and bring on the Bling.
Then all people are made ready for the arrival of Lizzie and her gang.
(in the meantime Mr. Black Rod (not Rod Stewart) goes to ask/order the Commons to common-on over to the house if lords. Lizzie cant do this herself as 1. she is busy, 2. they wont listen to her anyway)

You go girl!

Then Lizzie pops on her hat takes a deep breath and gets ready to face the music.
(not her own music either… and she has to read it in one tone to remain neutral…)

Even if it is in a self-effacing way the Brits are extremely proud of their lands and culture and on a day like this you can see it in its brightest form. Or forgive me… ehrm Hierarchy in its purest form.
This is a court in full action, doing exactly what it has been doing for millennia.

It is an amazing sight to behold.
Every one at court has a wand/rod/mace representing the length and the width of their power/authority.

And guess who has the biggest one?

Does size really matter? How Common...

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Dirty bugger

I remember growing up reading a story about ‘Piet de Smeerpoets’ (transl.: Shock-headed Peter) This story describes a young boy that refrained from brushing and cutting his hair and cutting his nails for a year… His end is rather gruesome… I remember this story well, as it somehow taught me the importance of washing behind the ears…

The stories originated from around 1845, when a German doctor produced it as a Christmas present for his children. The first edition was titled: ‘Lustige Geschichten und drollige Bilder mit 15 schoen kolorierten Tafeln fuer Kinder von 3-6 Jahre n’ (transl.: great stories and fun pictures for children of 3-6, including 15 prints) In later years this book was better known as ‘Der Struwwelpeter’. Doctor Heinrich Hoffmann (1809-1894) had been so bored with all the goody goody sugar-sweet moralistic stories for children, he decided to make his own. In his practice he had found that telling stories and drawing pictures had a brilliant effect on his young patients, so he had plenty to source from.

Poor Paulientje...

In total the book describes 9 short histories, teaching you not to play with matches, how you can get blown away holding on to an umbrella, how you shouldnt kick your dog (off course), how sucking your thumb could mean you get them cut off etc etc. Brilliant yet gruesome stories…

I am sure the Peter story really helped my parents to keep us in check, but over the years I never really understood why to wash behind the ears… What kind of dirt would land there anyway?!

Yesterday I got the answer to that, when I found both my ears covered in black coarse powder… also known as:

Soot.

The Great London Smog of 1952...

I guess growing up in the countryside I never really ran into the stuff. But in modern-day London, it only takes a small walk down the pavement to be covered in the stuff from the exhausts from busses and cabs. May be even some chimneys…When I leave my bathroom window open there is always a thin layer of black dust that covers the window sill.

So now in London, when I come home I always wash my hands (not ears) and blow my nose…

I wonder if the same will be needed in Cambridge MA…

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Herons > Pigeons

During my walk home today I ran into a surprising sight…

A large group of over 20 herons stood around quietly on the lawn in the park.
When on land these birds really resemble old skinny men in tatty grey rain coats, hunched together against the rain…
Only once they start their stretched gait on stilts do they turn back into actual predators…

Anti-social cousins...

When I was small my neighbour told me that herons were of the anti-social persuasion. No heron would land if it saw a fellow perched on the edge of a pond…
So how is it possible to find 20 of them in a clump in the heart of the city?

Apparently the heronry of Regent’s park is well-known and the largest urban community of herons in a city in the world.

Grey squirrels next time...

Haha, these long faced felons sure make the pigeons pale in comparison. If a pigeon is a flying rat, what does that make a heron?

Oh London, you never cease to amaze me…

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