This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,–
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616), “King Richard II”, Act 2 scene 1
A friend of mine from days of yore who shared the beginning of the glory days of academia with me at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater has written to me of his good fortune. He is going to be attending a conference for English Professors in London in 2008 at the Queen Elizabeth 2 Conference Centre.
That’s a rather lovely view of Big Ben, don’t you think?
We used to drive up to Madison from Fort Atkinson together, my friend and I, when he was first chasing after his wife who I had introduced him to because a mutual friend of ours who had transferred to The University of Wisconsin-Madison also knew her and she hung out at the poetry slams and folk music venues. We’d catch her at Steep & Brew a lot. Gosh those were happy times! We even used to take our kids on these forays because they were so G-rated.
He teaches upper classes in a small private college in the southern Midwest these days. It’s warm there. His classes are small and genteel. His students are polite and eager. They are generally there because they want to be and because Mummy and Daddy had enough money to be able to afford to send them there. Or they won tidy sums of money in scholarships because they are very bright.
I live vicariously through him and the letters he writes to me about his eager, sometimes brilliant students. He is living the dreams we dreamt together 20 some years ago that I had to abandon. This will be his third trip to The United Kingdom and London but his first conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre. It all looks rather posh doesn’t it?
I ‘ve been browsing through the hotels in London trying to imagine my very long-haired, hippie friend and his goat milking, yogurt making, pot throwing wife who is most comfortable in a flannel shirt, raggedy blue jeans and PVC boots at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre. Oh my, I mean the artistic kind of pots, not the kind you cook with! She’s a very lovely wife. They are a wonderful couple. Very well suited to each other. No cast iron skillets flying about their cozy farm house that I know of.
They clean up well though so I’m sure it will be fine when they get to London. <heh> I’m just so envious I could spit. Why they’re going to be staying right in the heart of Westminster, opposite the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. Think of the History! The Bard walked those very streets. Not to mention the fact that it’s close to everything that anyone who’s anybody might need to be somebody important so who knows who they might see from which country. Think of the Power!
Maybe someone will get sick at the last minute and I’ll decide to go with them and take advantage of these last minute deals on hotels in London. Check out The Sancutary House. Can’t you just feel the history and 15th century English and the absolute Britishness rushing out of this picture?
I’m thinking I’ll be needing to do a little checking into 15th century courtier costumes for the inevitable ball. Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin queen was quite the fancy dresser herself. Much more into the bejeweled gowns than the current reigning Queen.
Now there’s a dream worth dreaming. OK, so the somebody getting sick part needs a little fine tuning. I’ll work on that. Wouldn’t that be a lovely way to spend a couple of weeks next summer though? And of course I’d make sure I got to the Emerald Isle to visit their ancient ruins after I’ve had my fill of the poh hotels in London. Every Irish lassie dreams of Ireland. sigh…