01 December, 2010

Reading lists? I don't think so! (Part 1)

Even now, though I'm no longer a student, seeing a reading list makes my pupils dilate.  Just a little.  I should grow out of that feeling soon.  I love reading, and I do it for fun all the time.  It's why I wish my train journey were longer between work and home, and it's why I manage not to fall asleep early on nights when I'm way too tired think think about doing laundry and washing the dishes and even holding my eyes open.  Somehow I find the strength to stay awake to find out why the doctor was willing to sneak a computer into his patient who is being guarded in her hospital room because she is under arrest for grievous bodily harm to a couple of gangsters.

In recent semesters the ICLC has recommended reading particular books to students before they arrive.  The books tend not to be too taxing, as we realize that you have classes and exams and jobs.  We just aim to point you in the direction of something that will start setting the London scene for you.  For the spring 2011 semester we have been having difficulty picking one book that we all agree on, and the thought of sending out a reading list so that we can all have our input seems a little more intense than what we are striving for when we recommend something to read.  Instead we are each having our own separate say for this coming term.  Take from it what you want.

Recently I have been into murder mysteries.  I discovered the author Ian Rankin when my mother gave me two of his novels a few years ago.  He writes gritty crime novels set in Edinburgh.  This is particularly pertinent as Edinburgh is a destination that we try to organize a trip to each semester.  The main character of these books is Inspector Rebus who drinks at the Oxford Bar in New Town in Edinburgh.  Last weekend, when we had our group trip to Edinburgh, Bill and I found the Oxford Bar and went there for a drink.  I would like to say that we then proceeded to solve mysteries and enforce the law, but, if I'm honest, my feet were cold and wet and I was happy to get back to the hostel and warm up.  If crimes were stopped that Saturday night they weren't stopped by Bill and me.  It's possible that Bill may have done some crime fighting on his own once we parted ways, though.
Nope, no crimes being committed here.

On a related note, when I was getting ready to move here six years ago I had a regimen of films that I watched on repeat.  If I remember correctly they were Pride and Prejudice (the BBC miniseries where Colin Firth wins the wet t-shirt contest), Love Actually, Bend it Like Beckham and Four Weddings and a Funeral.  After arriving I also discovered the TV shows The Vicar of Dibley, Little Britain and Doctor Who.  Everything listed here remains a favorite in my library.  Have a look at them if you have a chance.

Sir Bill of Harrington Gardens confers the honour of £10 on Dame Alyssa of Figueroa
The BIG EVENT - other than Arsenal winning the Premiership - next term, is the Royal Wedding on 29/4/11. The USA went 'republican' in1776. Britain remains a constitutional monarchy. There are upcoming films about Edward VIII and his twice divorced US wife and George VI and his stammer. Look at our language: the ICLC is located in a 'Victorian' part of London; our underground and sewers are 'Victorian', we talk of Elizabethan literature, the Jacobean period, Georgian architecture, the calm before the storm in the Edwardian period. We have a Jubilee tube line [silver jubilee] and two jubilee [golden jubilee] bridges across the Thames. Don't forget our subsidised national theatre companies, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre. Our biggest industry, after finance, is tourism. Monarchy is the core institution of tourism. Why do so many people want to see the 'changing of the guard'? Why will the world be watching two 28 year old former college flatmates get married? Why is their wedding day a national holiday? We celebrate three big events in 2012 - the Olympics in the east end, the 40th anniversary of the London Centre and the monarch's 'Diamond Jubilee'. Long may she reign over us because after her comes Charles III and his Duchess Camilla, a prospect very few are looking forward to. We have a great deal of continuity. When Eliabeth II ascended the throne and became head of State, Harry S Truman was US President. In the period since then, the USA has had 12 Heads of State while the UK has had just one. The DNA of the great 9th century Anglo-Saxon king, Alfred the Great, can apparently be traced in Elizabeth II.

The USA doesn't have this system of nomenclature & cultural identification. Nor do they confer knighthoods, peerages, damehoods. We have actors - Sir Derek Jacobi, Dame Diana Rigg, Lord Olivier, Dame Judy Dench -  sports people - Lord Coe, Sir Steve Redgrave [soon it will be Sir David Beckham] - musicians - Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney [unfortunately, Ringo hasn't been knighted yet] - academics, businessmen, politicians, even foreign nationals, receive royal honours.  Imagine if Brett Favre was Lord Favre of Baton Rouge, the Yankee short stop was Sir Derek Jeter, all past presidents were 'lords', etc. And opening comedy week at Madison Square Gardens next month is The Honourable Christopher Julius Rock, CBE. Even humble people who work as lunch staff at schools or 'lollipop' persons (crossing guards) in schools get honoured.

My 2nd choice would be the American Anglophile Bill Bryson's short biography of Shakespeare; 3rd would be Mohsin Hamid's terrfic little novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, for anyone interested in the post 9/11 world in which we live.

Your trivia question for today.Where in the UK is Elizabeth II technically not Elizabeth II?

-Claire and Bill

1 comment:

  1. Scotland? Elizabeth I wasn't Queen of Scotland--the union between the two countries didn't come until after her death.