Some more cool London places
We had a team afternoon out at work: lunch and then a visit to the Tate Modern (I keep wanting to call it the MoMA! Take the girl out of New York…). I hate modern art. I’m kind of a plebe that way. As one of my team members said, “It just feels like they’re always trying to take the piss out of you” (taking the piss out of someone is a charming British colloquialism meaning to pull one over, sort of like a practical joke). But the BEST PIECE I’ve ever seen was displayed here. It consists of a sheet of canvass pulled taut and slashed once with a razor. That’s it. It’s supposed to represent ultimate reality or something. It was amazing.
That’s not to say there wasn’t anything truly cool at the museum. They’re currently displaying an exhibit by Carsten Höller consisting of slides. Not the kind you see on a playground, but reminiscent of industrialized water slides: curving, shiny and twisted, stretching from each floor down to the ground in a large open space called Turbine Hall. All the guys in our group took turns going down all the slides (except for Ken. He went down the first one and we could tell all had not gone well from the loud BANG we heard as he started from the top. He came out limping and swore off the rest of them). All the women demurred, which, in my opinion was smart because a) hello, Ken’s leg, and b) we’d just eaten and that could get very ugly.
We had stopped before at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. This is a famous pub on fleet street, famous essentially for being quite old(e). It was patronized by the likes of Samuel Johnson, Voltaire and Charles Dickens, and as a tavern dates back to at least 1538 (though the original structure was burnt in the Great Fire of 1666 and had to be rebuilt). We ate down in the cellar, which survived the fire and is thought to date back to the 13th century when it was part of a Carmelite monestary. The food was traditional pub grub, pies, fish and chips and jacket potatoes but you can’t beat monastary cellars for ambiance.
This weekend Taron and I met up with Sara, Priscilla’s sister who is studying in London this semester. We had lunch and then shopped along High Street Kensington, which is where I was introduced to a more modern, yet still cherished, London icon: Argos. It’s kind of a department store without departments. A catalog store where you still physically go to the store. A store where you don’t shop, you Argos!
Essentially the space consists of catalogs on tables and lots and lots of people standing around them. You look through the catalog to see what you want and then you check on a little electronic thing next to you to see if it’s in stock. If it is, you write the catalog number on a piece of paper and bring it up to the cash register where you pay. Then you wait by the back of the store for someone to call your number and then you pick up your merchandise. It’s brilliant. It combines the joy of shopping from a catalog with the immediate gratification of shopping in a department store.
I bought a CD/radio alarm clock; you can also get mobile phones, linens, games, toys, furniture, jewelry and tons more. I look forward to many more shopping, uh, Argosing, excursions in the future.