12 September, 2014

William’s wayward thoughts on IMMERSION, Part 1

Congratulations everyone. You’ve done remarkable things since your arrival in mid – August: housed yourself in local and more distant places, like trendy Hoxton, Shoreditch and Bethnal Green. Most study abroaders don’t have such choices: some, like those at nearby institutions, are dormed locally. I call them ‘prisoners of SW7.’ Their housing is easier and more expensive, yours stressful but more rewarding.
Image by Wall Gobetz Flickr

Our DIY housing style helps with immersion, i.e., getting to know London and its inhabitants. Around the four week mark every term, we pick up rumours of what’s going on. So far, the telegraph has been silent. We’ve had no news of engagements, elopements, or long holiday weekends in Plaistow, Wimbledon, Ealing Broadway or Cockfosters with the young woman/man from your internship placement, someone you bumped into at ‘Pret a manger’, or, heaven forbid, who was the baritone in Millwall FCs notorious ‘choir of abuse’. I would like to be a fly on the wall when you introduce your parents to ‘THUG’ [real name], the Millwall fan, or Tracy, who has Millwall tattooed on her forehead.

Image by Loren Kerns Flickr
Friday week [there’s a British expression], the 19th, Bill promises, weather permitting, a proper exercise in immersion, playing cricket in Hyde Park. Strollers in the park will stop momentarily to observe our antics.  Dog walkers are frequent fans; if unleashed their fleet footed charges reveal themselves as excellent fielders. Playing the game is an exercise in immersion. It will enable you to chat intelligently about the game which was, apparently, America’s national sport before the Civil WAR.
Image by Alan Stanton Flickr

Cricket introduces you to a whole new vocabulary and rules that seem absurd for those familiar with baseball. AS far as I know, no one can satisfactorily explain the LBW rule. It’s a great chat up line, innocent of gender bias, but penetrating to the core. “Have you ever been given out LBW?” Did the umpire make the right decision? how high up the pad  did the ball hit you? Front leg or back? Unlucky or plumb? were you the victim of a Yorker? a googly? a chinaman? Reverse swing? Where did the ball pitch? Was it a full toss? Was the umpire intimidated by the boozy ‘howzat’ of the slip cordon? Was the umpire blind?

Image by J E Mcgowan Flickr

 Armed with (a) these questions (b) your experience fielding with the dogs in Hyde park and (c)  your knowledge of the lifelong bitterness that accompanies wayward LBW decisions, you will not only become fast friends with Londoners, but you will become their teacher, because none of your interlocutors will understand a word of what you’re saying. If unlucky with the company, you might experience what happens to me at staff meetings with my three British colleagues. When I mention I was again the victim of an outrageous LBW,  they generally stare blankly out the window.

Image by Joe Dunckley Flickr

 Other than joining the royal family [temporary vacancy: morning sickness adviser; permanent vacancy: PR Guru to Prince Charles, I can’t think of any better form of immersion. Sure, by all means hang out at our two student unions,  attend the freshers’ fair, join the pot-holing club. But, getting a sound background in cricket, or joining the royal family might be swifter and better options.

Also quick note from Olivia on he subject of the royal family, as some of you know I am a huge fan of the faux reality show 'Almost Royal' and would highly recommend it. A bit Borat-esque (but much funnier in my opinion): two british comedians play aristocratic siblings Georgie and Poppy Carlton who are on a tour of the USA. It is showing on channel 4 and so episodes are still available on 4oD.

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