Thursday, July 24, 2008

England Trip - July 24th, 1983

We checked in to our hotel for five days in London. It's The Onslow Court Hotel, in Kensington. There was a problem with my room and the group guide, Matt Campbell worked with the staff and juggled the room assignments. I ended up in a room with Tom and Mark that contained three single beds and a bath. It forced us to get to know each other. Mark wore Lagerfeld cologne. I think of England each time I catch a whiff to this day. The Onslow was a budget hotel to be sure, nothing fancy there and Matt Campbell planned it that way. There was no sense throwing travel dollars at the place where you sleep and he was right. It was nice enough and they had a concierge booth where I purchased theatre tickets. The hotel also featured a small restaurant and pub.

The restaurant host, a Turkish man of generous proportions, with greasy hair and a burgundy jacket, knew a few English phrases: "How Many" and then he would count your party as you sat down. A typical exchange went this way. The four of us, the three guys plus Melissa Brown walked into the restaurant for breakfast.
"How many?" he asked.
"Four," I said. He gestured toward a table with four chairs.
"One, two, three, four," he said, and handed us menus. Mark did a killer impression of this guy by lunch time. In fact, we all developed impressions, and it didn't matter that they weren't as great as Mark's. We laughed anyway. The food was terrible. Have you ever had a good kipper? Well, if you did it wasn't there, and yet those wretched little fish were on the breakfast menu everyday. I think it was the same three kippers and nobody in their right mind ate those things.

We took a bus tour of London later that day and I felt excited to be in one of the world's great cities. I shot a roll of film from the bus. I located negatives and contact rolls, and I'll post some contact shots, but prints may be hard to resurrect.

We rode into central London from the Kensington area. We passed Herrod's department store, the Royal Albert Hall, and Speaker's Corner at the Hyde Park corner. We drove past a roundabout with a great arch in the middle, and there was a little door inside the arch. This was London's smallest police station. We drove past Big Ben, under scaffolding for refurbishment. In fact, there was a plethora of scaffolding around the city. Old building owners hired companies to scrub the soot off the exteriors. Big business. I saw lots of interesting people on the street. Punk rockers, mod kids, tourists of course. We drove past Buckingham palace too.

That evening after dinner, some group members attended a military exposition and show. This excursion may or may not have included the Imperial War museum. I stayed in and dealt with the jet lag. I was fried after the long plane ride and the time change.

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