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Notes from London

March 14, 2009, 6:31 am

Finishing up a research trip to the archives in London, I have a number of notes.

  • When you are walking down the street in the center of London (aka the “Tourist Zone”), if a large group of tourists stop suddenly, causing you to have to either a) cannon into them, or b) jump sideways to avoid them, they are almost invariably Germans. Today, Covent Garden, tomorrow, Lebensraum.
  • The most exciting moments of several days at the National Army Museum Templer Study Center were a) discovering a picture of Japanese officers with freshly-decapitated Chinese prisoners in front of them, and b) the moment an elderly gentleman, getting his collection of militaria appraised, unwrapped the hand grenade. (Archivist: “Has that been disarmed?” Gentleman: “I suppose so. It hasn’t gone off in 40 years.”)
  • The congestion charge has reduced traffic in London enormously and made it much more livable. It has also made the bus system usable again.
  • The Public Records Office (which the British have renamed the “National Archives” not realizing that no serious historian will call it anything but the “PRO.” Silly British.) has revamped its ordering and document production process so remarkably that it actually makes it a pleasure to use.
  • The Tank At The End Of The Road Where I Used To Live And Now Visit: Still there. Its name is ‘Stompie.’ It’s currently painted with white stripes, aka ‘The Lion King.’
  • British Prime Ministers cannot seem to manage their relations with U.S. Presidents to the satisfaction of the British. First, Blair was Bush’s poodle. Now, Gordon Brown isn’t getting good enough gifts from Obama.
  • British pubs are heaven for beer drinkers. Even the nastiest, lowest, sleaziest pub has something good on tap. It’s embarrassing just thinking about mass-produced American beer over here.

Another Boxer Post this coming week.

(Posted from Heathrow Departure Lounge)

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