Sunday, July 25, 2010

ever truly yours, john keats

The Sunday morning Kensington bells pealed me to church again at the Hyde Park Chapel. Daniel, Cherie, Alex, and Becca came as well. We were all a little bleary eyed at 9 am, but it's so great to feel a little bit of home once a week. Hearing American accents at the pulpit feels very Edgemont 6th to me, and add in a rousing version of Come, Come Ye Saints for Pioneer Day and it's a little transportive. Then you see that the ward activity is a trip to some place called Clacton-on-the-Sea, and the guy blessing the sacrament has a Jamaican accent, and you remember that you are in London again. And yet you still feel at home, even away from home.

After church I had a great chat with Kate Kinsell Ngai, who lives in London with her husband Mathew and their cute little fat baby Amelia. I tried to pick Amelia up but there were two problems. 1. She's a chunk. 2. She didn't like me at all. Doesn't she know I'm the baby whisperer? Well it was great to see Kate, who seemed happy to see me, presumably because I didn't try to physically pick her up.

After church Scott Stringham made all of us in the group a potluck brunch, and it was fantastic having a little home cooking. Katie Sullivan was on bacon duty, and she did a great job with that. Everything tasted perfect - French Toast with Nutella and berries, and a little dollop of that whipped cream that Alex made, even though he forgot to add sugar. Herewith are shots of various Wolverines enjoying their brunch:

Lisa, I need to recant something. Last year you asked me where, if I could live anywhere in London, I would choose to live. I think I said Chelsea or Mayfair. I have definitively changed my mind. I want to live in Hampstead Heath. I went to Hampstead Heath for the first time today, and now I'm wondering what took me five years to get there. SERIOUSLY. I don't know why people even go to London when they can just go to Hampstead Heath. It's exactly what you want England to be.

I went to Hampstead with the intention of seeing John Keats' house. This is where I feel a little sheepish. There is this fantastic movie called Bright Star that came out last year, which I saw twice, checking my man card in at the door both times. It's exactly the movie for you if you like movies where people write poetry, cry, catch butterflies, churn butter, and die of tuberculosis (SPOILER.) I do not like those kinds of movies, no sir, and I would never go walk through Keats' house listening to the Bright Star soundtrack. That's for sissies! (shame face.) The movie is all about how Keats has a chaste affair with Fanny Brawne, a young lady who lives in the opposite side of a house divided into two parts, like a Georgian duplex. After walking through the house I was amazed that there was enough room to make two houses out of one. It was a charming little cracker box. Creaky staircases, lots of wallpaper. Here are some pics:

Hampstead Heath is built on a series of hills outside of London - I'd forgotten what it feels like to walk up or down, London's basically flat - and it's great exercise. Plus, it's so freaking quaint and villagey. It's London's answer to Montmartre:

Here's the village church. I went inside and there was nobody there. Just a giant grand piano. Draw your own conclusions:
A detail from the church window. I thought I looked kind of like this guy:
Flask Walk:
Great little Georgian flat on New End Street:
Typical front porch:
After hiking (literally) through the village, I moved into Hampstead Heath itself. It's a 3 square mile mass of trees, paths, brambles, woods, meadows, and lakes. It's so dense that I got lost a few times. Lucky thing that I'm an eagle scout:
The view of Hampstead village from the Heath. London City is in the background:
Some really awesome plane trees I found:
This is the public toilet. Even the public toilet is basically a fairy tale:
After exploring the Heath until a homeless person sort of scared me, I moved back into town and found Fenton House, which was built in 1686. Handel spent time there. So did Robert Louis Stevenson and A.A. Milne:
And then I was back in town. Sorry if I went a little overboard on pictures. There are about 50 I didn't post, if that tells you anything. Hampstead Heath sort of blew my mind for an afternoon.
After making my way through town I bought tickets to see Inception, a movie that absolutely nobody has been talking about incessently on facebook. I saw it here, at the Everyman Theatre.

I was warned when I bought my ticket that I would be on the second row (assigned seating, now there's an idea) and that it might be a little hard on my eyes. I just smiled, knowing that the Hampstead Heatheans have no idea what a real movie screen looks like. The picture was crystal clear, the sound was terrific, but the screen was about the size of a Twister mat. All the same, I got to sit in an overstuffed recliner with a special button you could press if you wanted to summon a waiter with Diet Cokes! The movie, incidentally, is fantastic. It's a really complex and creative treaty about the workings of the subconscious, and it was a perfect way to end a day that felt, for a guy who needed some fresh air, like a dream.