Sunday, October 16, 2005

Evil mechanical guinea pigs

I really wanted to write about this amazing exhibit I saw at the National Maritime Museum on Friday, but unfortunately all happiness has been wiped out by the FIRE ALARM we had this morning at SIX AM. The fire alarms here are not the pansy Point alarms: "Er, um, would mind if you, ah, that is, if it's not too much trouble, could you please get out of the building? Please?" No, the alarms here are like huge evil mechanical guinea pigs (that's what they sound like, anyway) who will come jumping on your bed in the night, squealing "EEE! EEE! EEE! GET OUT OF BED! I WANT TO EAT YOUR SOUL!" If the Revolution ever comes, all they'll have to do is lock me in a room with these alarms and I will tell them everything. This time, however, I think it was a bona fide fire, at least, I think there was some actual fire and not some stupid fresher toking up in his room. There was about six inches of water in the basement, and I think it shorted out some wiring. So this morning we had no water in our rooms, and they were planning on turning off the power to fix it. And this is me leaving to go exploring for the day. Oy.

So, unshowered but undaunted, I soldier on.

Last Friday I went to Greenwich and saw an exhibit about Nelson and Napoleon at the National Maritime Museum. Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson was a British hero who stopped Napoleon from invading Britain at the Battle of Trafalgar, which happened 200 years ago this year, so the British have all got their patriotism up. The exhibit was SO INTERESTING. I learned so much about the time period and these two men. The great thing about being in a city like London is that all the artifacts in an exhibit like this are real--like the actual plaster cast Madame Tussade made of Louis the 16th's head after he was beheaded, or the actual flag that was flying on the Victory (Nelson's ship) or the actual bullet that actually killed Nelson at the battle. It was pretty obvious by the end of the exhibit which country had put it on, since the tone was very "rah rah Nelson beat this poor crazy Emperor" but in Napoleon's defence, he did start out with pretty much nothing. Greenwich (pronounced "Grennitch") is a pretty but touristy part of London, but there is a lot of wide open green space, so it was nice to walk around in the open air for a change. That's where the Cutty Sark is parked--a cargo ship that was famous for getting back from India before any other ship for about 10 years running. I'm looking forward to going back to the Maritime Museum again--it took me three hours to get through this one exhibit, and I haven't even seen the rest of the permanent displays yet.

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