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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The English Just (don't) Want To Have Fun

I'll admit, when I came to London, I was expecting a bit more of a class of cultures. You know, the especially irreverant young American coming to England, home of the tea finger and stiff upper lipsort of story. Also, the heirarchy of a school system combined with my radical notions, combined with the fact that most of the kids are rich and that's not something that impresses me. But I've tended to get along with what heirarchy there is, the kids generally don't make a fuss about being rich, and the English don't seem to be all that stodgy. I do have a couple of stories, vignettes, if you will, from the last couple of weeks that mostly amused, and somewhat annoyed me.

Last week, some teachers and I went down to a local pub and hung out for a while, because that is what one does in England. After some time, we went inside. Some music was playing, and they started dancing. It was just goofy little dances (white girl dances, as a friend of mine who specializes in ironic dancing would put it). Meanwhile, some police are over at the bar talking in a policelike way. Moments later, the manager comes over, and tells the dancing teachers that sorry, they're not allowed to dance, because the pub doesn't have a club permit. There Will Be No Dancing!

Yesterday, the kids went on an excursion to Kew Gardens, which is basically a really big, really nice park. Would have been lovely to wander around alone or with a small group, perhaps, but for a bunch of 9-year-olds, maybe not so interesting. So the teacher of the class I'm with says "go over and play on that tree." It's a big tree, old, and with some large low-hanging branches. Fair enough. Well, some of the kids start climbing higher, and I'm sitting and wondering if maybe they should be stopped, cause they always might fall, right? Just then, a tour drives by, and one of the guides asks them to get down. So I head over to start encouraging the kids to climb down, and a middle-aged white woman with a small child is walking by.

Woman: Did they tell you to get off the tree?
Me: Yes....
Woman: Good. This tree has been there a very long time, and you should show more respect!
Me: If the tree has been here that long, then it's seen plenty of kids.
Woman: Well! Not like this!
Me: Go fuck yourself.

OK, the last bit was in my head. But her attitude was pretty vile. It's possible she was a tree-lover, but I got a decided racist feeling from her. For example, she was more concerned with the tree than the kids who were pretty high up it. Then the way she said "Not like this!" made me think that it was the fact that the kids were brown more than that they were on the tree that so offended her. I could be wrong, but that added a layer of nastiness to my thoughts.

In other news, today I met a philoligist. It was kind of exciting. I've only ever read about them in books.
- Rowan Kaiser, 10:52 AM
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