Saturday, November 03, 2012

London, Day 2 – November 1, 2012

London, Day 2 – November 1, 2012

The day started off badly; I was not able to open my computer.  The screen was completely dark and nothing I tried caused the screen to light up.  I worried that the change from 110 current in America to 220 in London had ruined my computer, or at least burned my battery out.  I decided to ask at the front desk of the hotel where I might find a computer repair shop, but when I talked with a young woman at the front desk, she suggested instead that the hotel IT man take a look at my computer and give me his advice.  He did not arrive at work until 9:30 a.m., so I waited for him.  When he arrived at my room, he examined my computer and told me that he thought the computer was actually running (although it was soundless), but that the screen seemed to be off.  After a time, he asked if he might shut my computer down, and I agreed (I had thought it was already off).  He then made sure that it was off, and then he restarted it.  Immediately the screen went on, and all was well.  He said that sometimes the screen on laptops goes off, but will come back on when the computer is restarted.

I then took off on a day-long walking trip; I had decided to walk up to Oxford Street along Bond Street and back on Regent Street.  As I began walking, I passed the National Gallery of Art, and decided to step inside for a quick look.  I looked through the Impressionist paintings and then the Turners, along with numerous others.  When I left the Gallery, I heard bagpipes playing, and outside I saw a pipe and drum band playing in front of the Gallery.  After a few minutes, I was able to take photos of the band as it marched off. 

Nearby was the National Portrait Gallery, and I wanted to stop inside to look at the photographs of famous people; I like to see how other photographers take their portraits.  Soon, I noticed a full size, standing photo of Winston Churchill, and I stopped to look at it.  It was a portrait of him as a young man, about 35; he was thin and had hair.  As I was looking at the photo, a woman came up to me and said that she noticed that I seemed to be studying the photo.  She said that she was with the BBC and asked if she might ask me a couple of questions.  I agreed, but told her that I was just a tourist from America, and she might prefer to talk with someone from the UK.  She seemed pleased that I was from America, and wanted to ask her questions anyway, so I agreed.  A cameraman appeared and began to tape the questions and answers.  She asked me to describe my first impression of the photo, and I said that my first impression was that in the photo, Churchill was a young man, thin and with hair.  She pressed on for other impressions, and I said that I noticed that the portrait showed him in a serious mood, not smiling, but very serious.  I wondered if he might have been impatient with the photographer.  She asked if I thought he looked sad in the photo, and I replied that I had not thought of that, but since she mentioned it, perhaps his look might be thought of as sad.  She said the portrait was taken at the lowest point in Churchill’s life, although she didn't say why.  I said that I had not thought of that – to me, he looked serious and very intelligent.  I told her that I liked the photographic technique – it showed Churchill’s personality, rather than simply asking him to smile for the camera.  She thanked me and the cameraman continued to tape as I studied the portrait for a moment before moving on.  She didn't say if the interview would appear on the BBC; if it does, I am sure that I will not see it.
When I left the Portrait Gallery, I walked along to Piccadilly Circus.  It began to rain quite hard, and I decided to stop for lunch.  I located a restaurant named Richoux, where I had eaten on a previous trip to London.  I thought it would be fun to return to that restaurant, and decided to wait in the line that had formed.  The restaurant was not as nice as I had remembered, but I was not sorry that I had waited.  Afterwards, I continued my walk.  I walked up Bond Street, a major upscale shopping street, all the way to Oxford Street, the major shopping street in London.  I walked along Oxford for some time and then turned back down Regent, another major shopping street.  The crowds were amazing, and the scene was amazing, with walls of red, double-decker busses going in both directions.  Christmas decorations were being installed over the streets and on buildings.  Slowly, I walked along, taking photos, and it was a wonderful feeling. 

Eventually, I walked back to the hotel, put my things down and went out to get dinner.  I just wanted a hamburger, so I stopped into a very British-looking pub – the Albert of the Taylor-Walker chain of pubs.  It was packed with no place to sit, but I noticed a sign indicating a restaurant upstairs.  When I got upstairs, it was quiter and there was a small table, where I sat.  I noticed three women sitting at the next table, and soon, I overheard them talking with an American accent.  I asked them, and they said they were from Los Angeles, and they were in London to catch a cruise back to America.  It turned out that they were on the same cruise as I am on, and we talked as we all ate.  They said that the following day a group of 20 people would be meeting at the same pub for a pre-cruise get together, and they invited me to join.  After dinner, I returned to my hotel room and collapsed in bed.  I was very, very tired. 

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