Monday, July 5, 2010

St. Paul's

St. Paul's Cathedral was gorgeous, inside and out and the library was fantastic--it reminded me of something out of a movie.

After climbing a seemingly endless spiral stone staircase, Joseph Wisdom, the librarian, took us up past the "BBC View" (where the BBC films when in St. Paul's) and into the first of two chambers that were designed for the library. The first chamber we went into holds "The Great Model", which is what it sounds like--a huge wooden model of St. Paul's. The model was built in 1674 for about £600. Oh, and both chambers open with a skeleton key (I don't know if I've ever seen someone actually use a skeleton key before).

When we went into the library, he first thing I noticed was the smell. It smelled like old books, but other things as well--it actually reminded me a bit of good tobacco. Mr. Wisdom explained that it was caused by "off-gassing" which has to do with the chemical reaction that takes place between paper and leather over time. The library itself looked impossibly old, with dark wood and ancient books on the shelves. There were also numbered artifacts scattered about and--somewhat anachronistically--a Who's Who 2006. I was interested to hear abuot their critreia for donations, and how people are always trying to give them old Bibles. Mr. Wisdom said that they try to find good homes for the old Bibles, but don't usually keep them.

That evening, the British Studies Program had a big welcoming reception at the King's College Chapel. The chapel itself was ridiculously ornate. A few speakers gave us all a sort of pep talk and welcomed us to the program, which was followed by a reception. Afterwards, some of my classmates and I made our way to Leicester Square, where after much discussion we decided to see a movie.

We saw a British movie called Wild Targets, which was actually really good. It starred a bunch of famous British actors (Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Rupert Grint), and we all had a good time. A note on British theaters--they're different from ours. For one, we were in a theater with only four rows, which gave it a decidedly more intimate fell. For another, you get to pick where you want to sit (front, back, middle). Why don't we have a similar system in the States? It was nice having an assigned seat.

Thoroughly exhausted, we took the tubes back to the dorms and called it a night.

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