So much walking today that my legs feel ready to fall off. Probably should have brought my bike…
I had really good luck today. Started off by wondering upon Charles Dickens’ house, which looked no different than any other house on the working-class block. Maybe I’ll try and live on his block; it should imbue me with writing prowess, right?
More luck on my part: arrived at Buckingham Palace just in time to see the changing of the guard. The day was not useless: I learned that the leader furhat guys have plumes of red in their hats, 2nd in command have blue, and the rest have to settle for plain old oversized black cottonballs. This was a lot of pomp and circumstance, which showed me nothing more than that the guards are good at walking in formation. For me, this doesn’t make them particularly smart or helpful. I saw one of them afterwards, guarding a post, dutifully keep his silent guard when some tourist asked him for directions. It’s not like Britain’s in danger of another blitz (word for German bombing of London’s East End), and his post was guarding a locked gate. Like the U. S. Rangers’ “no one gets left behind” policy, this just doesn’t make sense to me. It may be a little awkward comparing standing quietly to retrieving a soldier’s corpse, but the underlying logic is the same: rules are rules, regardless of if they make sense. Obviously, the guard isn’t endangering the queen if he gives directions; equally clear is the fact that risking lives to retrieve bodies is dangerously foolish.
Enough digression: more luck. I then headed over to Trafalgar Square just as an anti-racism demonstration was beginning. Apparently, there are active factions of the Communist and Socialist parties in the United Kingdom: both had tables set up near the protests. One of the activists made me a striking analogy between Nazi Germany and modern France: according to him, Hitler only had around 36% of the Germanic vote when he gained power. Considering Le Pen managed to get about 18%, this really is scary. Say what you will about expressions of discontent with Chirac, but that argument loses a lot of its steam when extended beyond the primaries: shouldn’t the hatred of fascism outweigh discontent with an inefficient government under someone known as “the superliar?” I asked the demonstrator if I’d have problems anywhere in Europe. He said I’d be fine because I’m white, but that isn’t very reassuring. Even though I’ll be an outsider to any culture I visit over here, I feel a duty to avoid and probably even protest against any discrimination I witness. I hope I remember that duty: although I might have a more enjoyable vacation by just accepting whatever local prejudices I come across, I’d be encouraging the bias. Besides, I’d feel like shit afterwards.
In other news, still no wireless internet access, grr… I’m spending tons on these weird coin-operated net kiosks. Once I get an apartment, I’ll get dsl and cancel it before the trial period’s over. Yeah, I’m a little addicted… speaking of things I can’t stay away from, Indian food’s amazing. Even though (because?) it burnt my mouth off yesterday, I had it for dinner again tonight. Yumyumyum.
To summarize today, I can’t help but think about one of my hippie debate coach’s sayings: “not all who wonder are lost.” I was lost for a lot of today, but I think the saying still fits.