Time Stands Still
This was my first ever trip to England in 2018. Not much has been written about my attraction to England. What there is can be read if you click this link. If you read it, Time Will Stand Still as the regular readers will attest. Suffice it to say that this trip was fraught with chaos, even before we left Toronto airport.
The Sword of Illness lay over my head and most of this trip was conducted under immense stress, as chronicled here.
It is also true that we, me, perhaps burdened by the thought that this would be my one and only opportunity to visit England, had rather overpacked the schedule of events a bit, or a tad, where a tad is approximately 11.49579 bits, or 3.95748 bytes.
What we are about to read is the story of a time when it stood still.
Indeed, the bomb scare probably did make a few people stand up, pay attention and say “I felt like Time was Standing Still, when that idiot created a bomb scare!”
This was our third day on The England Tour of 2018. It was a bright, sunny day and the temperatures were heading into the low 30s on the Celsius scale as we started out. This was our second full day. Day 1 was about Arrival, Hyde Park and a general losing of ways, which is now becoming the norm. This was the day I wanted to straddle Time in a place where Time Stands Still.
In fact, after all those years, Time stands still as a reminder of the ingenuity of humankind and the creation of abstract concepts that morph into tangible chunks of, well, Time, with a Capital T. We can see Time as the hands of our clock move, or the digits on our modern watches update.
Then we know, we have wasted time, spent an intangible thing that is now very tangible. And you’re now thinking “Ah, for the love of mike, get on already and tell us about the bomb scare!”
I created a bomb scare. ’twas I. Me, myself and me alone, showing early signs of absent-mindedness. I cannot tell a lie.
Our hotel was around the corner from Earls Court, so we partook of a generous breakfast, included in the rate charged by the lovely Hotel K+K George and walked down to Earls Court. Here we took the District Line to Cannon Street. At Cannon Street we looked around for our connection and took the SouthEastern line train to Maze Hill.
It was a bright, sunny day and the temperatures were heading into the low 30s on the Celsius scale. On my back was my camera backpack. It contained the drugs I use to keep me interested in life, and a real camera. The camera is a DSLR and it came with a strap that you could use to put hang the camera around your neck, thus marking you out to all and sundry as a Tourist.
See photo of said Real Camera with Shoulder Harness as carried by me.
I found that carrying a camera that way, especially a real camera with a real lens, was a drag on me neck muscles. So I had invested in a sling that clipped across my chest and allowed the camera hang discreetly at my hip where I could, as required, disguise its presence or bring up with one hand directly into a shooting posture. Very convenient, very weight stress reducing and um very professional looking.
At Maze Hill we got out from the train and started walking. The walk from Maze Hill to the Greenwich Observatory is about 15 – 20 minutes. Now this was in the days before I learned to walk longer distances without collapsing in a heap.
It was a bright, sunny day and the temperatures were well into the early 30s on the Celsius scale. The walk is a lovely walk through swathes of green grass, past the Boating Pond.
Bear in mind, that very quickly, it starts to climb up.
For the Observatory is up on that hill. Right there, see it?
Ah yeah! Wow! You probably have a great view of the city from up there. (Corrrect answer: yes. You do.)
We arrived at the gates of the Observatory and the museum where Time Stands Still. From the promontory, is that a word, you can get a view of the city. Important landmarks can be seen, such as the JP Morgan building, the cupola of a church or cathedral, and The Oval Gasholders, which iconic landmark will be well-known to cricket lovers.
The museum of time is not a large museum like the Smithsonian or the Louvre, but it is interesting. We see artifacts that tell us tales of the scientists and thinkers who tried to measure the abstract concept of time. Also, we see instruments that these thinking men, they’re usually men, in those times, used to capture an intangible item of Tycho Brahe’s imagination.
Amongst these is the International Date Line.
Of course, Britannia ruled the waves and Britannia it was who told the world what meridiens were (“We invented this thing. Now you have to use it or else. Anyway, you don’t have a choice because you belong to us.”). Naturally, the Prime Meridien that divides Earth into the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, runs through the yard of the Observatory. I mean, of course, it had to, and it does.
So I stood over it and took a picture, with one foot in the East and the other in the West, very pleased at myself at having made it here.
Finally, we walked down to the river past the Fastest Ship in The World, The Cutty Sark. Forever now, doomed to living in a cage moored and trampled upon by, you guessed it right, tourists.
Not us. We walked along, my real camera hanging at my hip with the shoulder harness.
The Boat Ride to Westminster
It was a bright, sunny day and the temperatures were well into the mid 30s on the Celsius scale as we boarded the ferry. We had earlier taken a London Pass that allowed us a free ride on the Thames. A word on this ferry on the famous river. Don’t bother. The river is below the banks and what you are left with is a predominant image of sewers from the past.
We sat inside, where it was cooler, my camera still around my shoulder. I made trips up to take shots of London Bridge, The Wharf and The Mayflower or some other pub, which, we were informed is now owned or was relaunched by a famous actor, whose name I have now forgotten.
The plan was to get off at Westminster, walk along the Mall, check out Le palais de Buckingham, Picadilly and then take the train back to Earls Court.
Remember, it was a bright, sunny day and the temperatures now in the afternoon were well into the late 30s on the Celsius scale. My real camera lay at my hip.
As the boat started it’s final assault on the dock in Westminster, we collected our things in preparation for getting off. She had a backpack on her shoulder and was standing there watching me search for my camera bag.
I had the real camera at my hip and my phone in my pocket.
“I must have left it on the upper deck.”
I raced off and searched the boat from stem to stern. Nary a camera bag could I find.
We got off and decided to take the next boat back to Greenwich, because it was free and the timing was just right.
And so we rushed past the Cutty Sark again and headed back to the Observatory.
It was a bright, sunny day and the temperatures were well into the high 30s on the Celsius scale.
The Observatory Security Guards
I ran, I walked, I ran, I panted, I gasped for air, I ran and I rushed. Uphill. Till I reached the Observatory. She decided to wait for me down the hill.
Finally, I reached the lady in uniform with a walkie talkie on her shoulder.
I gasped, “Excuse me, did anyone report a lost bag? I think I left my bag behind when I was here earlier today.”
She looked at me, sweat pouring anxiously down my forehead, my armpits soggy, my chest heaving from anxiety, exhaustion and the heat, not necessarily in that order.
“What’s your name, sir?”, she asked, finally.
I told her.
“Please wait here with me, please.” she said.
She spoke into her walkie-talkie softly, and briefly. She stood there looking at me, an inscrutable expression on her face.
Finally, a big, burly guard walked up behind her. I could see he was carrying a bag. No, he did not have tears in his eyes as he spoke to me.
“What is your name, sir?”
I told him.
“You do realise we had to clear the area? A bomb scare is not something we enjoy. We looked inside your bag. We tried calling the pharmacy who issued your medications, we could not raise them.”
“I’m really sorry! Can I have my bag back? The pharmacy is in Canada and they’re not open, I think.”
He gave me the bag. I took the real camera off my shoulder, packed it in, with the shoulder harness, slung the backpack on my now definitely sagging shoulders and headed back down the hill where She was waiting.
We walked back to the boat and got off at Westminster.
Westminster, Buckingham Palace, St James Park, Picadilly
It was getting to dusk. It had been a bright, sunny day and the temperatures were well into the mid 30s on the Celsius scale. It was now a tad cooler, but still hot, as a chastened and thoroughly exhausted Punjabi ignored Westminster, walked through St James Park and the Mall, took a desultory photo or two of the flowers outside, the Nelson Column.
And this photograph of the sun setting.
The Next Day
It was still a bright, sunny day and the temperatures were well into the mid 30s on the Celsius scale. And on this day, Day 4, we started late because I was completely spent from the heat and exertion. But I had a tryst with an Abbey and a maze.
More on that later!
The Real Camera and the Shoulder Harness went on one further trip to Italy (including a day in Switzerland) in 2019. Then the pandemic hit, and post pandemic, the Punjabi made trips to Portugal, UAE, England, Turkey, but with airlines being difficult, the real camera doesn’t get out much now.