16 August, 2012

The Final Word

Having recently read one of the most well articulated valedictions I've ever come across, I hesitate to say goodbye in Jack's shadow. But needs must, and I am shortly to leave the London Center for a new job!  As semesters go by and students return to Ithaca (or go on to so many other parts of the world), I've taken to saying "Travel safely!" and "Come back soon!".  "Goodbye" is difficult to say and I admit that I avoid it.  Now it's my turn to go.  Though I'm not literally packing my bags and catching a plane, I'll be making a new tube journey each morning where I won't be greeting Bill upon arrival with "Guten Morgen!".  He won't ask me what kind of yogurt I'm eating, and I won't offer to make him tea that he will turn down because it's too early for tea (three years at the ICLC and I'm still not sure I understand what constitutes "too early for tea"). 

I think the laughter had something to do with fostering newborn kittens?
My initial feeling when I knew I would be leaving the ICLC (after the excitement of accepting a new job) was one of reflection.  I'll miss explaining colloquialisms which turn out not to be transatlantic.  While trying to explain what it means "to have kittens" I laughed that hardcore belly laugh which leaves you still aching a day later.  The same goes for the pants v. trousers issue.  Most of us remember the first time it was pointed out that Brits and Americans use the word pants differently.  I'll also miss the day Paul McCartney rocks up to 35 Harrington Gardens.  I've probably been too subtle in trying to engineer this, but I have no doubt I will be the first person Bill phones when Sir Paul does arrive.  And when he does, I can't wait to shake his hand!  

And then there's the overly sentimental issue- I'll miss Steve TenEyck's sabbatical in London in spring 2013.  I was one of Steve's first lighting design students in Ithaca.  We go so far back that I remember the master class he taught when he was invited from the job search to teach lighting design at IC.  Steve helped mentor me through my undergraduate education.  I would so love to audit his class next spring!  What do you think, Steve?  He won't be the first of my own IC professors doing a stint at the ICLC during my front office tenure.  I say in all seriousness that my social life had a hole in it until Greg Robbins took me mudlarking on the banks of the Thames.  Jack Hrkach got to spend a year here living in the roof garret of the ICLC, and I really miss the warmth of hearing his jazz music in the evening come subtly down the stairs of the flat and into the third floor hallway.

Kenneth is no less disapproving in a handmade blanket.

The fact that I keep coming up with more items for this list makes me realize how much I will miss about working at the London Center.  I have deep roots here, even though I'm the shortest serving of the current staff.  I look around the front office at all the knitting needles I need to take home, the post that Murray Woodfield has to collect, the stacks of photos from the 40th anniversary that I still haven't put away and the cardboard cutout of Kenneth Brannagh looking disapprovingly at me from the side of the fireplace.  I was welcomed 3 years ago into Elsie's family and I have made myself at home here.  The last staff member who left the ICLC was Fred, and he stayed for 38 years.  Months in advance of his last day he handed in to Bill his keys to the building, which Bill kindly gave back.  But on Fred's last day Bill reminded him that this was the actual day when he would need to turn in the keys.  Fred refused, and there was little conversation to be had about it.  I understand that Fred was expressing how he felt rather than interested in keeping the keys, and I wonder how I will feel in the same position as my day quickly approaches. 

While here I have loved meeting the visiting faculty who have come over.  I've loved climbing steep and wind-swept hills, doing my best not to speak my broken German in Paris and sneaking up on students to take awkward photos for the end of term slide show.  After all, documenting life around the London Center was part of my job.  And speaking of which, I'll miss this blog massively.  When Skint was turned into I See Elsie, I imagine Bill felt a small pang of loss.  Perhaps he was a little relieved, but he had been a driving force behind Skint for most of his time as Director.  Now I'm handing over the username and password of Elsie.  Aside from a creepy presence in the creaking basement floorboards and in the phone lines, this blog is Elsie's main incarnation.  She also discovered Facebook and Twitter, but this is where she was born.  Sarah and I created a test post one afternoon and we never looked back.  Now Elsie's a few years old and I'm already feeling the pangs of missing her.  Bill has been an unfalteringly good sport about being the subject of one facetious blog post after another.  This blog would be half the size it is without his patience.
The Fantastic Four?  I think so!

And finally, I'd like to thank Evie Blackburn for helping me get a foot in here in the first place.  Without her I might still be selling cake south of the river.  On to new adventures!



  1. You will be very much missed at the ICLC, Claire!! Best of luck with your new job. :) *hugs*

  2. Claire!! I hope your new adventures are fantastic and as exciting and fun as your time at ICLC. I will always cherish my time there, and you, your mood, and your fun and positive presence will always be an important part of it. I am about to send postcards to the london center and you are one of the recipents... will you still be there this semester? If not, send my your home address via facebook so you receive it!