Monday, November 17, 2008

England, part 8: The beautiful cat endures

It was my last afternoon in London, and I went to Highgate Cemetery, which was quite close to my hostel. Karl Marx is buried there, beneath an enormous likeness of himself, and there's an odd assortment of other prominent people: George Eliot and Douglas Adams; the father of Virginia Woolf, and the baron who oversaw the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway; the inventor of Hovis bread and the doctor who devised the vaccine against typhoid in WWI, and a great many artists and firefighters. In late summer, in the brilliant slanting sunlight of late afternoon, it was an uncommonly beautiful place, and I wandered around taking dozens of photographs.

As I pondered the headstone of Herbert Spencer, a group of women and little girls clustered around a gravestone nearby. One of the children wants to know why the dead person wasn't there -- the inscription said he had "gone home." The adults laughed, and one explained that people don't like to say someone died, so instead they say that person "was called home" or "went to his rest" or "fell asleep." But what it really means is that the person is dead.

The little girls wandered around looking at headstones, and one of them found this one:

The beautiful cat endures

They clustered around it and conferred.

"It's a dead cat!"
"No it isn't!"
"It is! Look, it says, 'The beautiful cat endures.' It is a dead cat."
"Mummy! Mummy, come look! Mummy a cat died and it's really sad."

This concludes my account of my trip to England! (And it only took me 2 months to get through all the photos!) The whole photoset is here -- do have a look at the photos of gorgeous Highgate, in particular.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

England, part 7: Hampstead Heath

My last day in London, a Sunday, was brilliantly sunny and warm, and I went for a long walk on Hampstead Heath. My destination was Kenwood House, but it took me awhile to get there, as I kept getting lost; twice I realized that I'd been walking for 20 minutes in a direction opposite to where I should have been going. But I didn't really mind; I was having a great time rambling around, soaking up the sun and eavesdropping on English people.

Two men in their 40s, walking with wives & strollers.

1st man: ... which worked well with my assistants in Hong Kong, but then it didn't work at all with my assistants in Japan.
2nd man: You have to find a balance. That's the key, finding a balance.

Man in his 40s to female friend: [Happily and somewhat bashfully] ... smart, funny, and she's half-Jewish. Her father's Jewish.
Female friend: [throwing up hands and laughing] Wow!

Londoners make enthusiastic use of their outdoor public spaces in fine weather, I noticed. Both the Heath and Waterlow Park, which I walked through later that day, were full of people having picnics, jogging, playing with their dogs, or just lolling on blankets reading paperbacks.

Leaves and shadows

Full photoset here.

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