Friday, July 24, 2009

lately he's been overheard in mayfair

Today was the day for the infamous London Derby. The London Derby is something Alex Ungerman and I concocted last year to teach students to use the tube on their own, with the added benefit of seeing remote sights around, with the added benefit of sweating and possibly winning prizes!

It works like this:

The students are in teams of 4 or 5. I make the teams.

Each team captain draws the name of 5 London sites out of a hat.

Each team has 2 1/2 hours to get to as many of these sites as they can, even if they are on opposite ends of the city.

For every site seen (with photographic evidence!) the team gets 5 points.

An additional 2 points are given if students take pictures of the following:

--A Busker or Street Performer
--Red Phone Booth
--A Theatre
--Statue of Someone
--a blue dot plaque (Famous Residence)
--a Church
--a Pub
--An Art Gallery
--a Garden
--A bridge

Teams must meet me at the Trafalgar Square lions within 2 1/2 hours or they are elminated.

If The Amazing Race and the America's Next Top Model go-sees met and had a baby, it would be the London Derby.

So the teams set off with hope in their hearts and a London map in their hands. Not to be outdone, I did a little exploring of my own. This time, destination Mayfair. I haven't spent a lot of time in Mayfair, but I can safely say now that I have been missing out. It's one of the most beautiful areas of London. Very expensive. I felt very white trash, especially when I sat on a gross bench and ate a Tesco Sandwich in the middle of a bunch of stockbrokers in suits. But on the inside I felt like I fit right in.

I have to say that it was a good omen that I saw this on my way to the Green Park tube station, because nothing says good fortune like clown trousers and a harmonica neck rack:

After passing the Ritz hotel, I wandered down to Berkeley Square, where no nightingales sang, but which was the location where I ate that Tesco sandwich and fed my chips to some pigeons. Berkeley Square is famously known as a place where many historical figures lived, and if you are to believe the blue circle plaques everywhere, most of them committed suicide. So I got the impression that Berkeley Square is not the hub of happiness. I kept expecting to run into the Bristish Debbie Downer at any moment, but she was probably off at that new WWI trench exhbit.

Mayfair also has classy pubs like this one:

And has the Embassy of Burma, which these two gentlemen were protesting:

I found a little alley that led to Mount Street Gardens, where I sat for a while and listened to my ipod. But then "Gravity" by Sara Bareilles came on and I had to leave, because it made me homesick for Lisa.

Next up, Marble Arch:

Then into Hyde Park, past Speaker's Corner, and past this fountain which depicts people frolicking and having an awesome time:

I passed into Knightsbridge, where I can never pass up the Harvey Nichols window display:

And eventually wandered into Belgravia Square, where I found this tribute to Leonardo DaVinci:

Then, all too soon, it was time to hustle over to Trafalgar for the exciting London Derby conclusion! Well, exciting for me. But first I needed to watch this metallic man in front of the National Gallery:

Here is the winning team. They were Aubrey, Sarah, Levi, Anna-Marie, and Sara. They each won a Love Bar from Pret A Manger. They found everything on their list!

Better luck next time, Team 2 - and sorry about the Victoria Line!

This team arrived late, and you can see that they are blaming me for not being able to find one of their destinations.

In the evening we all headed up to Regents Park, where we had a wonderful picnic until the rain hit:

And we were all super wet, but we forgave it because of this:

And then we saw The Importance of Being Ernest in the park:

And it was hilarious, and had the coolest set. And I decided that nobody but the English should ever do Oscar Wilde:

And I liked how physical it was:

And now I'm just writing in one sentence paragraphs. Time for bed? But let me close by saying that we were all quoting this all day: