||[Jun. 8th, 2008|10:51 pm]
OK, so. I am back from the UK and Ireland as of last night. It was a pretty good time. The trip was basically this: started in London, drove south to by where Stonehenge is, then through W(h)ales, got on a boat and went to Ireland, drove through Ireland to where they make the booze and sweaters, then got on another boat, drove through Scotland where they make the booze, then back down to London, then got on an airplane to come home. It took 18 days. |
My plan for this trip was to consume about as much British/Irish media as I could. So I...
Monty Python's Meaning of Life. I have not always loved this movie, but I have loved it long enough to watch it first. It was really fun to see all the mundane things that I saw every day while in London (such as street markings) that I had not noticed in previous viewings.
This Is Spinal Tap* I thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie in Britain. It seems kind of obvious to say, but some of the British people I talked to sounded just like the characters from this movie. Which is to say, I suppose, that the actors' accents were dead on; but it is also to say the things they said were pretty accurate. For example, a woman I was talking to was describing some topography: "There are a lot of hills there. It is very hilly." Straight out of Spinal Tap, I swear.
Eddie Izzard: Glorious. I put this on while we were playing cards and drinking Jameson one evening in Ireland. Just as funny as it's always been, with no new insights or appreciations.
Eddie Izzard: Definite Article. I bought this DVD about a year and a half ago, and, since it was recorded in Britain for a British audience, his accent was (seemed) thicker than in his other DVDs, so I had a hard time finding it funny. Such was not this case this time around. I caught a lot of sayings and references I had picked up I was over there, which enhanced my understanding of what the hell was going on.
The first six episodes of The Office. I had a similar experience with this as with Definite Article the first time I watched it: I had no idea what the hell was going on, but once I immersed myself in the culture I caught onto a lot more. Still not sure if it's as good as the American version, but I can see why they did the remake.
The Time Machine. Ok book. Wouldn't start a genre on it.
High Fidelity. I read this whole book in one day. This was party due to the fact that it was one of the best books I've read in a long time, both in terms of style and in terms of personal relateability, but also because our ferry to Ireland was delayed by 12 hours and we had nothing else to do. I had seen the movie, but I got a lot more of out of the book. I am anxious to see the movie again.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower* Meh. It was a pretty good book, but I read it right after I finished High Fidelity (which I didn't shut up about for a while, probably pissing of my mother and sister; but it was that good), so the bar was set pretty high. Still, not as good as the hype from anyone who has ever read a book has always given it. Don't plan to give it a second read.
Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This book was better than I remember it being. I had read it five or six years ago and remember smirking at a lot of it but rolling my eyes at more of it. It may have been resistance to hype, quite honestly, because I enjoyed it more this time around once there was no pressure to read it from my friends. Also: it was short as hell, and the story didn't seem to do much. I have therefore resoled to read the rest of the books. I expect this to take approximately fifteen minutes.
Led Zeppelin. I have really gotten into Led Zeppelin over the past few months, and it was nice to sit and listen through a bunch of it. It was especially helpful to have around when I was trying to fall asleep. I think this may become my new default calm music: it's interesting enough to pay attention to if I want to, yet calm enough to tune it out when it's time to zonk out.
David Bowie. You guys. Seriously. Why did no one tell me out badass David Bowie is. I could not stop listening to the song Suffragette City. I think "Suffragette" would be a good nickname for an "empowered female" girlfriend. I bought the David Bowie best-of album for the trip, but next I am going going to buy Space Oddity, because I loved the titular (teehee) track so much, plus I want to know how the rest of the story goes.
The Clash. Basically I loved being in London and listening to the Clash. Especially when I was in the tube stations, because I know that's where they were walking, getting their ideas, working them out. These same tube stations. Being punks in the tube.
Queen. Queen is just awesome. No new insights here.
Spinal Tap* I felt satisfied listening to a fake British group in actual Britain. Also, I listened to the song Stonehenge at Stonehenge! It was so... literal.
Black Sabbath. Same sort of "wow, this is where it happened" vibe as from the Clash, but less so. Still awesome, however.
Kaiser Chiefs. Pretty standard British hipster fare. I got bored with them a few years ago, but they mention "pounds" and other British things, so it helped me get in the mood, I guess.
Kings of Leon* So, it turns out Kings of Leon are from Tennessee. I had always assumed they were British because A) I listened to them a lot around the same time I listened the Kaiser Chiefs a lot (A.1: both the Kaiser Chiefs and the Kings of Leon start with Ks and have titles of rulers in their names), and B) Kings of Leon were mentioned on the British television comedy The Mighty Boosh, so surely they must be a British band. I was wrong. Incidentally, Aha Shake Heartbreak is an album that has outlasted all other hipster music from the time (which I can't really say for the other stuff of theirs) and is generally a really awesome collection of songs. Buy (or thieve) the CD.
Flogging Molly. I've always kind of liked Flogging Molly. It was fun to listen to them while roaming the streets of Dublin. That's about it.
Monty Python's Contractual Obligation. This is one of the best comedy albums of all time. I did not need to be in Britain to want to listen to it, but it was an excellent excuse to listen to "Sit on my Face" over and over and over.
Jimmy Car: Live. I love British comedy. So much. But, again, no new insights, and maybe one or two learned phrases.
Eddie Izzard: Circle. Once again, no new insights. Not even any new phrases. Just excellent comedy.
In terms of experiences, I had plenty. I saw most sights you'd want to see around the area. I kissed the Blarney Stone. I ate haggis (which is actually textured a lot like black pudding and was surprisingly not offensive. In the same way as liver, it is not as awful as people keep saying it is, but I was not in love with the taste. I did enjoy it, though).
We stayed at a bed and breakfast in Ireland, which had a cat that nuzzled my feet as I was waking up in the morning. That was pretty nice, because I was really missing my cat.
It was really big brotherish over there. CCTV security cameras were everywhere. I read in one of the newspapers that the government can pretty much watch whatever you're doing at any time. America may have its faults, but at least they aren't captured on millions of cameras.
The one area where Britain (or, at least, London) completely kicks America's ass is in escalator etiquette. Basically, people over there know that, if you're just standing, you stand on the goddamn right side of the escalator to let others pass you.
HOWEVER: the creepiest thing I saw while I was there also had to do with escalators. I did not stick around to investigate or get any unwanted images burned into my mind, but I did see enough to know that a man was lying at the bottom of an escalator in a very large pool of blood with a crowd around him (some trying to help). I assume, since I saw it, it happens every day around that time.
There are a few data from my trip that I have yet to acquire (most notably the list of 50 different beers tried between me, my mother, and my sister). There are also photographs. These are both forthcoming in the next few days. Check back soon.
*Not actually British or Irish.