Oh sleep! ‘Tis a glorious thing! Today I woke up at noon, yup, that’s right noon. It’s so nice after going going going for three days to actually sleep in and wake up whenever I pleased. I will say that sleeping on this mattress wasn’t the most comfy experience. It might be worth investing a few pounds on some memory foam. (Don’t worry mom, we found this department store called Primark which is sells things like clothes and linens ridiculously cheap. I’m talking sweaters for like £4. And you know how I love me some sweaters.) I spent a good hour of my ‘morning’ trying to get the internet in my room to work. It’s the most frustrating thing ever when the University’s Wifi won’t give you any signal. They gave me an Ethernet cord when I moved in, but when I plug it in, all it does is ask me to sign up for a service. Yeah, I’m American, we don’t like to pay for our internet!
I only bring up the fact that I’m American due to the fact that it was a very controversial issue today. We met up with Professor Haskett at the ol' Hotel around four and he suggested that we walk to Hyde Park to see who was at Speaker’s Corner. For those of you who don’t know, Speaker’s Corner is the area in London where anyone can get up on their soapbox and say anything they please! You walk into this pretty little park where groups of people are mingling around a single person shouting about football, God or even, dare I mention it, politics. The beautiful thing about this is that if there are three people standing together, surely two of them are listening to what the one has to say and obviously it must be worth listening to! Why else would you be at Speaker’s Corner? With all of us studying abroad and Professor Haskett, we come to a total of nine. It was pretty funny when he huddled us all together to give us the game plan and several other random people tried to join in. There’s nothing to see here people, nothing to see!
Soooo Matt, Laura and I were kind of mulling around and taking pictures. There’s a man holding a sign that says “Free Hugs” and another that says “Ask me how to make more money!” We stopped to listen to a man talk about how men who cry over football is lame and that he used to take electronics apart when he was a kid (they said anything right?) when up walks this short little black man:
MAN: Can I ask you a question?
My first thought was DON'T ENGAGE!! But Laura and Matt looked at each other and were already saying “Sure”. I almost walked away, but thought, what the hell, the purpose of being here is to say your two cents, right?
MAN: You’re American, right?
My second thought was uh-oh. It’s a set up! We’re trapped! But I decided I’d just let Matt and Laura handle this one. MISTAKE. Hello fiasco of the day, I was wondering when you’d stop by!
MAN: Then can you tell me why the democrats are trying to destroy the country?
MATT: What?! The democrats don’t want to destroy the country! There are just two political parties that argue over how the country should be ruled. The democrats are just one side.
MAN: No, the democrats want to destroy the constitution! Why do they hate the second amendment? Do you know what the second amendment is?!
MATT/LAURA/ME: yesss. It’s the right to bare arms.
MAN: Right, well why do the democrats want to get rid of all the guns, eh?
MATT: They don’t want to get rid of guns! The democrats just want to enforce more gun safety laws.
MAN: No, they want to get rid of all guns! They want to get rid of the army! Do you know what it says in the second amendment about the militia?
MATT: Yes, but that was written many many years ago, during a war. That doesn’t exactly apply to today.
MAN: No, it does!! Don’t you know-
By this point, clearly I could see that the man was crazy and wasn’t going to listen to anything we were going to say. He was also shouting all of this at us and we were beginning to draw our own little crowd. My personal favorite newcomer was this young Indian man in a gray hoodie and track pants who sounded very British and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying this whole ordeal. The angry little man continued his rant about how the democrats didn’t want guns in the country:
MATT: No, they’re just trying to make it harder to own a gun so not just anyone can go by one.
MAN: There are guns all over Europe! We can buy guns here all we want!
COOL INDIAN DUDE: I know, I’m walking in a store and see people’s cart loaded with guns. Mine is loaded with food! What the hell is that?
I just started laughing and gave up on the whole thing. He continued to correct us about why people moved to America and then how oppressive the British government is because they have to pay a licensing fee on their television. At that point I kept trying to jump in to explain to him about the difference between American TV and advertising vs the government owned programming in England, but the man just continued to shout at us. Laura kinda checked out of his yelling too and the two of us joined forces with cool Indian dude; laughing at Matt try and reason with a crazy man and putting in our two cents when we could. At some point though, I had had enough:
ME: Have you ever even been to America?
MAN: No, but I read the news!
ME: No, but have you even been to America? Have you ever gone to experience the country you seem to know so much about?
MAN: No, but-
ME: Well how can you say that you know everything about how our country is run? You’ve never even been there!
MAN: I watch the news!
MATT: Well which news? Fox? That explains a lot!
MAN: No, not Fox News! Do you know who owns Fox News?
ME: Rupert Murdoch.
MAN: Rupert Murdoch! And do you know where he’s from?
MAN: Australia! Do you see what-I gave up again. Clearly he wasn't even listening to me when I gave him the right answers! I was pretty pleased that my film education about licensing agreements and networks had helped me navigate a ‘conversation’ at Speakers Corner. Shout out to History of Broadcasting! Woot woot! Next thing I know, the man wants to try and talk about 9/11:
ME: We don’t want to talk about 9/11. It’s a touchy subject for Americans!
LAURA: Yeah it is!
MAN: Who do you think caused 9/11? It wasn’t terrorists!! It was Muslims!!!
He then grabbed a middle eastern looking man who had just joined our now pretty impressive sized huddle.
MAN: You see this man?! He’s Muslim! He wants to kill you!
MIDDLE EASTERN LOOKING MAN: Why are you listening to this man, can’t you see he’s crazy? He’s been here for twenty years saying the same thing! Why are you listening to him?
The confused and hurt look on the angry little man's face made Matt, Laura, Cool Indian Dude and me burst out laughing. I’m talking full on, loud and hand clapping laughing. Before we had just kind of snickered but the man said the very thing we were all thinking and it was HILARIOUS. (I know what you're thinking, but try and not feel sorry for this man. He was talking in circles and contradicting himself. Plus, he was hatin on Auh-merica!!) All of the sudden crazy man pulls out a Quran and starts quoting things from it trying to prove that this middle aastern looking man, clearly a Muslim, is out for our blood. By then, I noticed that our crowd was large enough that I grabbed Laura and the three of us somehow managed to slip away.
We grouped up with our TCU clan, shook off the few people trying to join in our huddle again (this time there was more of them due to the fact that Matt, Laura and I had obvs achieved Speaker's Corner celeb status) and continued our walk along Oxford Street. Even though we’d already been to this area of town, it was cool to see all the window displays during the day when the stores were actually open. Haskett even showed us this little area of restaurants that was hidden from us down this sketchy little alley. It’s between two buildings that opens up into this beautiful archway with colorful little flags on it and opens up even further to more little shops and a bunch of restaurants. So cool! If I didn’t know it was there, I never would have found it. We went for dinner on the South Bank at a cool little noodle shop and traveled to Piccadilly Circus for some gelato. Mmm gelato. Mmm tiramisu flavored gelato. Apparently the alcohol taste is much more prevalent in the gelato than the actual tiramisu. Either that, or they simply spiked my gelato because halfway through my cone the alcohol was winning in the taste bud arena. Mmmm tiramisu gelato.
We all decided to end the night rather early, around 8:30ish, with talk of getting together tomorrow evening to see a show. Orientation is tomorrow! I’m excited, but not too happy to be getting up at 7:30 to get there at 8:45. Apparently J, Trang and I are the only ones who have orientation in the morning since we’re the ones with internships. Everyone else gets a little lie in and doesn’t have to be there till one. Oh well, we’ll be the one’s with ‘International Experience’ on our résumés, suckers!