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London, Brighton, and Scotland

  • Submitted by: Mark R. Leeper
  • Submission Date: 11th Feb 2005



London




August 22, 1987 (3:23 AM): And it really feels like it's 3:23 in the morning. That is because I woke up about 12:30 in the morning yesterday and couldn't get back to sleep until about 5 AM. I went into the den and watched THE BIG COUNTRY while playing with my new graphics calculator. Maybe I will be able to do the impossible and sleep in this little square seat on the plane. We are flying Virgin Atlantic to Gatwick.

Our last meal, as Dale Skran drove us to the airport, was Wendy's hamburgers. Okay as hamburgers go but probably better than any hamburgers you can get in Britain. This is in keeping with my belief that the British love hamburgers but have no idea how to make them. Sort of like the United States and candy. So we got to the airport and as no surprise to me they made us check our 'carry-on' bags. Evelyn had told me that the airlines were cracking down on too much carry-on luggage. She was really pleased because she claimed she never tried to carry on too much. I opined that the amount she takes would never be allowed. Evelyn claimed that her knapsack would count as just a big handbag and that her suitcase was called a carry-on so of course the airlines would think it was just fine. I seem to remember a two-against-one disagreement on this very point at my in-laws' house. I lost that argument; the court ruled that Evelyn was right (big surprise). Confident from her victory, Evelyn knew she wouldn't have to check her luggage. Then we got to the ticket counter and the man told Evelyn she would have to check her bag. Evelyn told him it was all right, she could stow her suitcase beneath her seat. The man produced a wooden box half the size of Evelyn's luggage. 'It would have to fit in that box.'

Life is a give-and-take proposition. Some things work out well; some do not. A sense of optimism is good to have but not always easy to maintain. Some people at better at it than others. But when I saw my wife pick up that big suitcase and try to fit it in that little box, I got a lump in my throat. I mean, there are limits to how much I can stretch my optimism.

Actually, it is probably the tightness of the plane that requires the heavy restrictions. This is a 747 packed as tightly as any plane I can remember. It is 11 across a row and four rows of seats for each three that the plane was designed to have (you can tell that by looking at the overhead compartments). This is tighter than the Russian Ilushun that we flew in China. Someone eight rows ahead decided to take a nap and reclined his seat and everyone behind him in the cabin had to recline theirs too or be crushed. Now I am headed for some clear air turbulence. That means that the plane is flying smoothly but I am getting a real bucking from the knees of the guy behind me who would prefer that I sit up with the head of the guy ahead of me in my lap!

Actually I have gotten a little ahead of myself describing the inside of the airplane before the outside. I must describe the outside. The airline is called Virgin Atlantic and there is a giant painting of a woman on the side of the plane wearing a swimsuit and flowing silks. I don't know if she is the same woman on the side of each plane or if sh illustrates the particular plane's name, 'The Scarlet Lady.' The plane has a big red tail that says 'Virgin' in big letters across it.

I mean, come on, guys. Let's put some dignity back into flying.

(8:24 AM): Wow! I've been able to sleep on a plane. I've never been able to do that before. I've only been waking up for meals. I fell asleep shortly after getting on the plane and woke up about 5 AM for a small, semi-palatable steak and a brownie. I have been dieting and the brownie tasted awfully rich and sweet, but only because I have had nothing of the sort for a month and a half or more.

The diet makes this trip come at an awkward time. After a while on a diet, the body becomes extremely efficient. That sounds good, doesn't it? It is a horrible dirty trick of nature. It means that it takes far fewer calories to maintain a fat level. You can diet until you are blue in the spirit but you will lose little if any weight and that one brownie probably did worse things to my weight than a piece of Black Forest cake in normal times. After dinner I fell asleep and woke up to find two rolls and an orange juice in front of me. It really feels like morning. With luck I may have no jetlag in this direction at all.

Evelyn just discovered another Virgin Atlantic exclusive. There was a large ant crawling on her. I have never seen an ant on an airplane before and one wonders how it would even get there. One presumes this particular ant will have a harder than usual time getting home. The guy behind me, by the way, turned out to be a young woman with (it would seem) Olympic-class knees. She also puts a fairly hefty slam on the plastic window-shade which is 4' from my ear. By the way, we gave them back our rolls. They weren't very good according to Evelyn so after one bite out of an ersatz mockcroissant she gave up and I skipped them entirely. It is now 8:51 AM and feels it.

(10:05 AM): We just landed at Gatwick. Why does England look so much more pastoral from the air than does the United States?

(11:37 AM): Things have changed in Britain. Time was they used to just wave you through Customs if you were a Yank. No more. These days there is nobody to wave you through; you just walk through and if you look suspicious (or rather, if they not only look but are suspicious), they stop you. Nobody is in a position to gave you the wave. I missed my wave and felt a lot less secure not getting it. Just to do my bit for security I waved through a number of people who they had already let walk through. The odd thing is they looked at me as if I was committing the faux pas. Eventually I did get my friendly wave-through by a nice Customs man. (Note: I must find out what 'bugger off' means. Probably a sports term.)

We got an exchange rate of about $1.70 per pound and exchanged $400 worth and boarded the train for London. Ev and I could not get seats together. I am sitting next to a guy who is coughing, sneezing, and reading a cookbook. I hope he doesn't prepare food in this state. We are getting to London. Lots of brown brick buildings, several churches that are of an older style with tall steeples. Ah, now we are in Victoria Station (12:03 PM).

We took the Underground to Sloane Square and carried our luggage three blocks to the Wilbraham Hotel where they had lost our reservation. 'Very unusual,' the clerk said. Not for me, it isn't.

(9:32 PM): Well, they got us a room but it is three flights up and it is quite warm during the day. There is no television and the lights don't all work, but for London it is still a pretty good deal.

We took a look at a list of points of interest. The map listed an 'Historic Ship Collection.' We went where the map claimed it was. What we found was a marina with nothing particularly historic. Well, on to the next thing on our list, the H.M.S.Belfast over on the other side of Tower Bridge. That is the other side of the closed Tower Bridge. However, we did find an unexpected attraction, the London Wall Walk. A medieval wall has been excavated that was built on a Roman wall base. The London Wall was really the wall of a fortress from the Middle Ages. To see the various pieces excavated you have to walk a mile. At each piece there is a tile 1-1/2' by 2' explaining what you are seeing and a map telling you how to get to the next piece. There were eleven of these stations in all. The fourth was made out of paper, not tile, just as a temporary measure. The fifth was not only paper, but it had gotten wet and rotted somehow. In ant case, the map of how to find the next piece was destroyed so that was that.

The next site that we wanted to see was St. Paul's Cathedral. This was more something Ev wanted than I wanted. Admission was free, but much of what might have been interesting to see Evelyn did not want to see because it would require climbing. So we achieved the status of being able to say we had been there, but not that we'd actually seen St. Paul's. For me, the most interesting thing was a monument to General Charles Gordon, who had successful campaigns in China before being sent to Khartoum to defend it against the Mahdi. I was curious if there was any of Gordon's remains in the casketshaped monument. There was nobody to ask in the Cathedral, so we went to a Tourist Information Centre across the street. They were not sure.

We stopped for sodas; we'd walked a long way in the heat. Most of what we'd seen were closed insurance companies. I told Evelyn that a bus tour might have been a better idea. Particularly since tour buses seemed to pass us every five minutes or so. Our next stop was the Old Bailey, the courthouse. It was under renovation and you couldn't even see the building.

Next Evelyn wanted to go to the Sherlock Holmes Pub which she has wanted to see for years. We got there a little after 5 PM and it wasn't open. One of the kids on the street told us the pub opened at 6. So we went to Leicester Square to see if we wanted to go to any of the plays they offered at their half-price booth. The choices that looked good were ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD by Tom Stoppard and BREAKING THE CODE, a new play about Alan Turing, a major name in computer science. Evelyn took a look at the plays and said that she would be unable to stay awake. I was a little disappointed but I didn't insist since there were still three more nights.

We had some friends in town from Massachusetts and the plan was we would meet them at the Holmes Pub for dinner Monday night and after dinner we would go to see THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Well, if the pub didn't open until 6 PM it was going to be impossible. So after some effort we found the telephone number for our friends' hotel and left them a message to meet us at the play. This was to be the default plan anyway so the call really did nothing. We started back to the pub, but part of the way Evelyn realized we would not be able to see a play on Sunday; no plays are done on Sunday. That was disappointing, to be able to see only two plays in four days in London. Broadway puts in mostly fluff plays. The London theaters do more serious plays, and at bargain prices.

We then went back to the pub and got there about 5:50 PM. Already there was a crowd forming, almost all Americans. In fact, as far as I can tell the pub is entirely for tourists, like wax museums and Ripley's Believe It or Not Museums. But Evelyn is a bug on anything to do with Sherlock Holmes. 6:00 rolled around and the pub stayed close. All the tourists stood in the rain waiting for the pub that wouldn't open. We all talked. By 6:20 finally we saw a woman going in the back. She said the pub opens at 7 PM. Evelyn and I decided to eat at a fish-and-chips place we'd seen and come back to see the pub. We got back at 6:54 and talked to some more people going to the pub. At 7 it opened and we went in. The walls were decorated with photos from Holmes films and with supposed artifacts from the Holmes stories. Upstairs a small room is decorated like a versions of Holmes's study. But the centerpiece of the downstairs in a showcase was the head of some poor hound dog. It has been stuffed by a taxidermist and then they painted parts of the head with garish green luminous paint. It was pretty gross and disgusting. Even Evelyn called it tacky.
After that we went to the theater playing THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and bought a program and a booklet giving background to the play.

Then Evelyn got concerned that our Massachusetts friends might not understand our phone message so she decided to walk to their hotel; we might even spend the evening with our friends. It should have been only about a 2-mile walk but Evelyn based her route on a description we got from a friend that the hotel was in sight of Victoria Station. After getting lost a few times we found Victoria Station and it is a city clock big. From the front we couldn't see their hotel. I told Evelyn a few times that this trip seemed silly, that our friends would probably not be in. But the whole way Evelyn kept giving responses that we were almost there. But also as we walked Evelyn's memory of the description of where the hotel was became hazier and hazier. Either the hotel could be seen from Victoria Station or Victoria Station could be seen from the hotel. We had no other description. We headed off in one direction that the description might have indicated and no hotel. I asked someone where it was but they were as new to the area as we were. Finally Evelyn got directions to the hotel. Our friend had engaged in hyberpole. The hotel was in the neighborhood of Victoria Station, but neither could be seen from the other. We finally got to the hotel after walking out of our way for about 75 minutes, though in the heat and after a day on our feet it seemed more. Evelyn had been too tired to go to a play but still had arranged this little junket for herself which was in itself pretty exhausting.

At any rate, we are at the hotel and call up our friends' rooms. They are, of course, not in. Evelyn wrote them a note that repeated the phone message, and we headed back to our hotel. We took the Underground and paid the same price we would have from the theater. After we got off the Underground we stopped at a grocery and bought two cans of soda. One was ginger beer; one was shandy (lemon soda and beer, 1.25 proof). After we got back to the hotel, I put our cassette of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in the Walkman and, so Evelyn could hear, I put the earpieces each into a cone of paper made from magazine covers. It worked and the paper cones became decent speakers. We re-arranged our plans so we could see all three plays. Well, it's now 1 AM Sunday. Ev is already asleep.

August 23 (9:46 AM): I was too before long. I recently saw a film called ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS, a remarkable musical. One of the scenes shows a cutaway of a boarding house and what is going on in each of the rooms. It is an English film and if I look out our window, I can see what may have inspired that scene. I can see a cross-section of a partially demolished building. Only the wall towards me has been removed (and most of the floors, though there are still metal supports for the floors). It looks a little like a scene out of the Blitz.

(2:17 PM): Well, I skipped breakfast and we took the Underground to Hyde Park and Speakers' Corner.

The subway in New York saves themselves a lot of trouble by saying it is one fare wherever you go. The result is that it is a bargain for going long distances and nobody wants to take the subway for short jumps. It costs too much on short hops because you are subsidizing longer trips. The question is how to charge by distance without incurring too much overhead. Well, the British Underground improves on the situation. You pay by distance to exit. They check your ticket as you leave. IT is marked by where you got on. As a check, you feed your ticket through a machine as you get on and it verifies you have a local ticket, unlocks a turnstile for one turn, and passes you your ticket back.

I think England has had things pretty good the last few years. I think when we were here last time there were more malcontents speaking at the Corner. Today, except for a couple of religious speakers, everybody seemed to be there for a good time. There was very little political comment.

The first speaker we saw was one we'd seen eight years ago and is still around. At that time he'd had a rough edge. 'I am a dirty Jew!' he used to proclaim. These days he seems more interested in getting laughs than in shocking people. This time around he saw me and picked out that I was an American because I had a striped shirt (well, he said it looked like a cross-walk). He said Americans were a very friendly people but that he'd like them to do one thing...take their MacDonalds and Burger Kings out of England. He said that that food causes children to be hyperactive and people should not eat fried foods. But if they do, the best fish-and-chips restaurant in England is 'such-and-such' and he gave instructions on how to get there. He clearly had no interest in being taken seriously.

The next guy we went to was from the Unification Church. Dull! The next guy claimed to be a scientist and was explaining why as a scientist he believed in God ('life is a low-probability event' sort of argument). There seemed to be holes in his arguments.

From there it was back to the ex-dirty-Jew who was now giving a pro-Israel speech but also throwing in that he wanted to see the West Bank turned into a homeland for moderate Palestinians. That is generally a pretty inoffensive policy.

The final speaker we heard was advocating thinking about the great questions.

(Ah, hold that thought; I missed one.)

After the pro-Israel guy, we went to the Socialist Party's gathering. The main purpose of this one was, I suppose, to sell copies of the newspaper of the Socialist Party. All the talks are heckled to some extent, but the Socialists really seemed to depend upon it and would have had virtually no audience without it. They were presenting repartee with some regular hecklers in the audience as a come-on to attract an audience to sell papers. Not that the hecklers were shilling, but they all seemed to be on a first-name basis and it had the taste of the kind of arguments that go with professional wrestling. It was kind of fun to listen to, but could not be taken seriously. (Not that I listen to pro wrestling arguments a lot. A barber I used to go to would have pro wrestling on his television.).

Then we went to the guy who talked about confronting the great questions. This talk also depended mostly on heckling and when it wasn't, the speaker was usually joking with the audience. Evelyn and I were having some fun with the speaker, mostly Evelyn. I will let her cover the talk. He claimed Americans were always chewing gum. We gave him a stick of Dentyne which he clearly didn't like but put the gum into his handkerchief (after having chewed it for about 20 seconds) and said he would chew it later.

After that we headed out for Hampton Court by taking the Underground to Waterloo Station, then taking the train to Hampton Court. Every country seems to have the 'luxurious palace of exruler so-and-so.' Hampton Court is much like Peter the Great's digs near Leningrad, opulent and dull and done in excruciatingly bad taste to act as evidence of somebody's wealth. This one had not so as much gold as some, but it still could have rated a picture spread in HOUSE GARISH.

Cardinal Wolsey, one of the richest and most powerful men in England, built his country house up to magnificence, rivaling the royal palace. When he lost henry VIII's favor, he gave Hampton Court to henry as a gift in a vain attempt to win back henry's favor. It didn't work, but Henry kept Hampton Court, built onto it, and turned it into a royal palace.

Several monarchs used it as the Royal Palace, notably William and Mary. The last was George II. In 1838, it was opened to the public and has been dedicated to tourism for a century and a half. You enter it passing a number of stone animals holding shields and bearing constipated looks on their faces. Following that you get to the Clock Court, seen over by a giant clock face. The clock shows the hour, the minute, the month, the day of the month, the Julian date, the phase of the moon, that state of the tide; it has eight alarms, a stopwatch, a calculator, and it unfolds into a robot. Many of these features Henry did not understand and when Wolsey tried to explain them, Henry thought Wolsey was making fun of him and it only made him madder. 'I just want to know what the bloody time is!' Henry is reported to have said. Anne Boleyn apparently mastered the intricacies of the clock (it took 250 of the Thousand Days), but on the day she was beheaded, Duke Edmund of Casio, who had had the clock constructed, fled to the Netherlands with plans for the clock and something he was working on that he called a 'PCinterface.' The plans were on a Dutch ship to the Pacific sometime in the next century but were lost with the ship and a descendent of Edmund. History is sometimes stranger than fiction. Sometimes.

Well, what can I tell you about the innards of Hampton Court? The paintings cover some of the walls mural-like and sometimes continue up on the ceiling with the transition between the two rounded. The painter was Antonio Verrio, who did most of the painting about the turn of the century (well, the turn of a century, about 1700). His motif was Greek mythology. There are Muses, Ceres, Flora, Pomona, and river gods. Hercules shows up because he was William III's favourite hero (I spell it 'favourite' because, of course, Billy was a Brit). Unfortunately William died too soon to see a Steve Reeves movie, which might have either enthralled him or changed his mind. If I ever strike it really rich I will have my walls painted with pictures of Quatermass, Galois, Thomas More, and Doc Solar. Maybe I can make it into HOUSE GARISH. The King's Guard Chamber has the walls decorated with over 3000 arms which I thought was some kind of record until I got back to my hotel room and found four millipedes crawling on the wall.

We didn't any bathrooms, but you should see how impressive the King's Privy Chamber is. It is also called the King's Audience Chamber ('different countries, different customs, don't be too quick to judge'). The King's Drawing Chamber had all the king's drawings removed and had paintings by other artists.

Wolsey's Closet was a walk-in and also had paintings all over.

The Haunted Gallery is so named because Catherine Howard, Henry's fifth wife, ran along it trying to get to Henry and protest her innocence to charges of hanky-panky. (Apparently all six wives were guilty of fooling around on the side and only Henry stayed pure and virtuous through his entire reign. It has never been determined which of the wives gave Henry syphilis.) A guard caught Catherine and dragged her back along this gallery (in fact, he dragged all of her). Her ghost is said to still shriek along this corridor.

The Great Hall is impressive and quite a place to entertain (we never entertain in our hall). The kitchens and wine cellar are huge.

The Cartoon Gallery is decorated with ten cartoons by Raphael, none particularly funny.
There is also a Chocolate Court, so named because one of the kings ate chocolate candy every morning for breakfast like my nephew. Well, I suppose the royal portrait painters were adept at covering up acne.

Afterwards we walked around the huge gardens and the maze. We traversed the entire maze traveling by the right-handed rule. Then there was just time enough to get a cool drink and we took the train back to Waterloo and the Underground to Leicester Square where we ate Indian food, walked around for a while, then returned to our hotel where we worked on our logs.

August 24 (4:13 PM): Well, today was the most anxiously awaited day of the trip and very possibly of the whole year. In one day we are going to see the National Maritime Museum and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is booked through April of 1988. How we got five seats together on three months' notice seems to have been a stroke of luck. I thought they charged a premium on us, having to send the stuff to the United States. Nope, they charged the price of the tickets. They asked for a stamped, selfaddressed envelope, but we were all out of British stamps. So we asked them to add the postage to the charge. Apparently they didn't. But I am getting ahead of myself. I am sure I will have plenty to say about the play later.

Ev slept late this morning and I wrote in my log. If you want to know what I wrote you will have to look around the part about Antonio Verrio to the beginning of this passage. I could tell you, but I am afraid of falling into an infinite regression. I might never get out.

At any rate, once Evelyn woke up we had a quick fight about a snippy answer she gave that was totally uncalled for. Then we boarded a train for Tower Hill and the pier for the boat to the National Maritime Museum.

August 25 (8:27 AM): We got to the pier about 10:30 AM and it didn't open until 11. I wanted to get a souvenir for our 'chatchka' table. Not the best place for the kind of souvenir I would like to get but sometimes you have to settle. The Three Laws of Chatchkatics are:

It should represent some aspect of the place you visited and remind one of that place.
It should be small and cheap, unless this is in conflict with the first law.
It should be something a native might buy for himself, unless this is in conflict with the first two laws.
Law One rules out buying a tin of Bayer aspirin.

Law Two rules out buying an ornate pin for holding a tartan sash in place.

Law Three counsels against getting a three-inch-high tin Big Ben.

Ideally you want to get something common and cheap in the visited country but that would be much harder to get and more expensive in the United States. (Uh, I guess non-perishable should be added as Law Zero. Otherwise I might get a local brand of candy bar.)

What did we settle on? You'll be disappointed. It isn't that imaginative. It's a child's toy version of a double-decker bus. About 1-1/2' long, made of metal. Cost: 1.50 pounds, or $2.50 American. Well, the actual exchange rate is about 1.6969. Evelyn says just divide the price by 6 (and multiply by 10). As a continued fraction approximation, I get that the best fit fractions for smallest numerator and denominator are: 1/1, 2/1, 5/3, 17/10, 39/23, and 56/33. Multiplying by 17 is tough so I skip the 17/10 on. That leaves me with 5/3, so in this case Evelyn's approximation is about right. 5/3

10/6, so you multiply the price by 10 and divide by 6. You are off by one part in 56. The 17/10 is off by about one part in 552. So for once Evelyn's rough guess worked out, though if I were a little better at multiplying by 17 I could do much better. Generally, I find that Evelyn in roughly guessing an easy conversion will find something like a reasonable approximation but I can get something a little closer to the correct value with a slightly easier computation. For converting turn-counts between VCRs at home she used 13/6. Not a bad approximation, but 11/5 turned out to be a closer approximation and is the same as 22/10 which gives you nicer numbers to work with. 400 easily becomes 880 while multiplying 400 by 13/6 would be difficult and would give you a poorer approximation of 867. Okay, enough of this. At least this trip we agree that 10/6 is a good conversion factor. One problem with England is their unit of currency is larger than ours. It is demoralizing to see a price tag that says '1.50 but in your currency that 2.50.' I guess we may go to Italy at some point.
The National Maritime Museum is one of the great museums of the world when the people running it let it be. Unfortunately, last time we were here a quarter of it was closed and this time better than half. There is one big building and two smaller buildings which put together are roughly the same size as the big one. The two smaller buildings and part of the big one were closed this time. The smaller buildings are preparing for the presentation for the 400th Anniversary of the Defeat of the Spanish Armada (no doubt Spain will have a much smaller celebration, if any). And part of the big building was closed off for a press reception about a new display of nautical art in watercolors (which seems an appropriate medium, I guess).

(11:24 PM): Lots of catching up to do. Mostly about seeing plays.

Now, where was I? The buildings that were closed are mostly art museums, but they are very good art museums and most of the art is nautical. Most art museums are filled with abstract art that doesn't look like much, portraits of uninteresting people, uninteresting landscapes, still lifes, over-pious Bible scenes, and scenes of mythology that somehow miss the whole fantastic thrill of the mythology. Some of that is worth seeing; a lot is only vaguely diverting while you are looking at it. Nautical art is full of action or scenes of sleek ships. I'd hazard a guess that not one picture in a hundred selected at random from the Louvre would be of more than average interest for me among the art at the National Maritime Museum.

After the National Maritime Museum, we bummed around Greenwich, going into bookstores but not buying. Then we headed for the train, on the way asking directions at a grocery and buying some ginger beer and Indian puri chips.

I should say something about ginger beer. I cannot stand the taste of alcohol and so drink no alcoholic beverages at all. But I do like ginger beer, a strong drink that needs no alcohol to add to its punch. It is a non-alcoholic beverage akin to ginger ale but with a really strong gingery punch. In the United States you can get a fairly good brand called Old Tyme Jamaican-Style Ginger Beer. If you really look you can also find Schweppes Ginger Beer, but it is much weaker. There are other minor brands around, but Old Tyme is quite deservedly the most common. A friend, one Lance Larsen, once recommended to me ginseng soda and I recommended to him Old Tyme Ginger Beer. We agreed to trade off one serving of each. His soda tasted like carbonated potato juice. Not so hot. I never went to his apartment again without him offering me a ginger beer. He knew when he was licked. That ginger beer is good stuff.

The puri chips are a local brand, Phileas Fogg, that specializes in international favorites.

Well, after that we got on the train, went back to the room, changed for the play, had dinner at Garfunkel's (which was pretty American-style), and then walked to theater. The Massachusites showed up. And we went to the play. As it turned out Margaret Thatcher chose that very night to see THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. I didn't actually see her, but the people in front of us could lean far enough forward so they could. The play, reviewed elsewhere, was big success with our group. Everyone burbled afterward about how great it was. We walked to Leicester Square discussing it, got some ice cream, then some of our group was still hungry, so we went for fish and chips, discussing the play and just talking. Then we head back to our hotel, leaving the Underground just at midnight while they were locking up. I was up until 2 AM writing my review, which will appear elsewhere [Attachment 1].

Argh! I just finished talking about Monday and it just turned Wednesday, so I am still a full day behind. Yesterday dawned rainy and stayed raining until evening. Evelyn was late waking up so we didn't leave for Leicester Square until about 10:30 AM. The first order of business was to get myself a hat warmer than the suncap I brought. Readers of previous logs may remember the helicopter cap I got trading away another cap on the Amazon. We got breakfast of sorts; Ev got tea and a brownie. It was 11 AM and I was thirsty so I settled for a can of soda. I found myself a nice stylish rain hat at a men's store, paying 5.95 pounds.

At 11:30 AM we queued up for tickets, talking to a traveler from Montreal. It was raining so we all stood under the awning (this is all at the Leicester Square half-price booth). There were two plays we wanted to see: BREAKING THE CODE and ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD. There were only three plays that had tickets available. Two were the ones we wanted to see; the third was a play with the dubious title WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR...TROUSERS? London theater seems to have a fair number of plays like NO SEX PLEASE, WE'RE BRITISH with vaguely suggestive titles and situation comedy plots that thrive on tourist business. Last trip we took a tour that included two plays. One was AIN'T MISBEHAVING and the other was NO SEX PLEASE, WE'RE BRITISH. Two nights wasted. The listings seem to categorize the plays as 'comedy,' 'thriller,' 'musical,' or 'play.' The last is a catchall for plays that don't fit into neat categories. I enjoyed THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA a lot, but the two London plays I have seen and respected the most have fallen into the catchall category 'play.' One was NIGHT AND DAY by Tom Stoppard which we saw last time. This time we got tickets for a new play called BREAKING THE CODE. I will say more about it later, but I will say that it was so much better than the touristy sex comedies like WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR...TROUSERS? that it is amazing that fluff can survive. Well, perhaps not so much amazing as disappointing.

August 26 (12:54 PM): So we are in line, maybe third or fourth in line, and a large Israeli tourist with a girlfriend (or wife) says something about 'The man says the line starts here' and pushes ahead of us in line. It is obvious that he has pushed into line, but he just stands there. I tell him that the line starts further back and he pretends not to hear. His wife meanwhile has disappeared somewhere. Since he has cut in between Evelyn and me, I push forward to get up with Evelyn. He doesn't say anything. I am getting ready to tell him that the three or four people behind us (whom we were talking to) are all one party and should also push ahead of him, but after five minutes or so of standing there he goes off, apparently to find his wife. It has nothing to do with my politics, but Israeli tourists in London seem very pushy and shortsighted. They make very poor ambassadors of good will. No, that is too broad a generalization. We have met quite a few and most seem very nice. But a high percentage of rude tourists seem to be Israeli. My father claims that it is because conditions are hard enough in Israel that Israelis grab for all they can when they can. Possibly true, but not much of an excuse. All they need is a bunch of individuals going around making a bad name for the country.

(4:01 PM): Better than a day behind and on a bumpy train to boot.
We got the tickets and waited in the rain until Dave and Kate showed up. They did not show up until fifteen minutes late and it took about another five minutes to make contact.

From there it was bookstore-hopping for a couple of hours. Then back into the tickets line for the evening performance. Kate was with us and time was growing short, so she agreed to stay in line while we rushed to our 3 PM play, BREAKING THE CODE. I have not yet reviewed that but the review will appear elsewhere [Attachment 2].

Good play. I hope it makes it to Broadway, but somehow I don't expect it. It wouldn't be a high-enough-profit play and would not attract enough of an audience at New York ticket prices. [Actually, it turns out that it will open on Broadway on November 15.] It is a biographical play about Alan Turing, who was one of the great computer scientists and is credited with having cracked the German 'enigma' code, but later in his life was arrested for homosexuality. The play starred John Castle who played on of the more interesting characters in THE LION IN WINTER ('Why does nobody say 'king' and think 'Geoffrey'?'). (My gosh, a sentence requiring five punctuation marks at the end. Must be a record!!!!!!) The play follows four or so different plot lines in Turing's life. In some ways, I suppose, Turing was Britain's Oppenheimer. Following the play we bought a copy of Turing's biography, on which the play was based. The biography is entitled THE ENIGMA OF INTELLIGENCE. Like the play, the title has, of course, a double meaning.

Well, about 5:30 PM Kate met us for dinner. We tried the foolhardy. We went with Kate and Cynthia to an Indian restaurant. Kate is a hamburger, Coca-Cola, peanut butter sort of person and we keep dragging her to exotic restaurants. Ordinarily, people with a taste for prosaic food find Indian food distasteful. Ah, but there is a secret to starting people on Indian food. Just about everyone likes Tandoori Chicken. It is basically just grilled chicken without spice. It comes colored red, for reasons I don't know, but with your eyes closed you'd think it was grilled on a backyard gas grill. Kate actually claimed to like Tandoori Chicken. She may have been just being polite, but she certainly appeared to eat it.

We finished just about in time to go running off to see our evening play, ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD by Tom Stoppard. This play has been recommended by friends over the years so I was anxious to see it. It was Stoppard's first and he built his reputation on it. As the first work of a new writer, it is good. It is sort of ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET HAMLET with a few minor philosophical twists. But overall it was nothing to write home about. So I won't.

After the play we returned with Kate to Victoria Station (via Underground) and then continued on to Sloane Square--our stop. And went back, wrote in our logs till midnight, and went to bed.

When we got up this morning we had to decide what to do. At some point we would have to go to Brighton but we had a whole day to do it in. Evelyn thought we should go early and see the boardwalk. My reasoning was, where was time likely to be more valuable? London, where we'd already spent four days, or Brighton with its Crystal Palace and its boardwalk. No question in my mind at all. London. Ah, but what to do? Well, last time I'd enjoyed the Imperial War Museum. It has a good collection of artifacts from the two World Wars. Lots of military hardware, uniforms, the like.

Well, we went there and it was a worthwhile look at the army and the home front for the two wars. Of interest were Lawrence's Arab robes and a lot of interesting propaganda posters. Particularly interesting were the type that said, 'Ladies, don't you think your husband or boyfriend should be in the army? Other women have given up their men and they are protecting you. Will a man who is not faithful to his country be faithful to you? Tell your men to enlist.' Downstairs they had goodies like unexploded V-1s, war planes, etc. There were taped discussions on things like what it was like in the trenches (Bloody Awful!).

Well, I was thinking through this that we'd seen the Navy's museum (the National Maritime Museum) and the Army's museum (the Imperial War Museum). What I would like to see is a museum for the Air Force. Well, on the way out we saw a small poster that said some sort of aircraft paintings would be seen at the RAF Museum. So there was one? We could go to Brighton a little later and have time to see it. So we hopped a train for Collindale where there is the Hendon Aerodrome. There they have the RAF Museum right next to the Battle of Britain Museum, right on an RAF base.

We went to the RAF Museum first. It is considerably smaller than the other two museums. It is on two floors around a large floor that has a collection of maybe thirty aircraft from the biplane days forward. The planes were worth seeing. The museum part is full of models of airplanes, instruments, etc. The Battle of Britain Museum was similar, smaller, and concentrated on one battle. I like seeing airplanes. Evelyn sort of went along, but as she pointed out, she'd lived half her life (actually I pointed out it was less than half) near Air Force bases. Can I help it if I grew up without all the advantages?

August 27 (1:47 PM): The RAF Museum takes you on a chronological walk where you see things like engines, trophies, medals, flying suits, and propaganda posters--that sort of thing. Well, when we finished that, we head back on the train to our hotel to pick up our luggage. Our feet were starting to get sore from all the walking.






Brighton




There was an uneventful trip to Brighton except that we have already bought more books than we wanted to on the whole trip and the lug-around is getting a bit much. Our room is nice for 41 pounds/night. The Massachusetts people are three to a room, further from the festivities, the room is older and has a bath but no shower, and they are paying 75 pounds per night.

We got to Brighton about 6:15 PM and got to our hotel by about 6:45 PM. At 7 we went out for fish and chips. I had a giant slab of skate and chips for about $5.65 American. We talked to some local fans from Scotland over dinner. Afterwards we looked for a nice place to have our anniversary dinner (which will be tonight).

The weather is just about perfect for Brighton, which is to say grey and cold but not raining. I hope this weather stays nice through the weekend rather than turning grey and cold and rainy.

We went back to the room and listened to a humourous radio play (as far as I can 'humourous' is like 'humorous' only drier). This one was about some poor benighted fool who was bucking the system to try and get his train to work to run on time. It was not really science fiction but was in many ways like HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY.

I wrote in my log. After a little while the phone rang. Dave Bara had arrived. We went over to his hotel and talked with him and Kate until about 11:30 PM, occasionally being entertained by a very strange hotel manager who talked in baby-talk to the hotel cat.

Well, then back to the hotel and I stayed up and worked out on the graphics calculator on the problem of how far away the horizon is at very heights above the water (mid-ocean).

This morning I discovered my stomach did not like the skate last night as much as my mouth did.

We had English breakfast (it comes with the room), including things like grilled kidney, grilled tomato, fruit, and a few things a little more prosaic. The mushrooms were pretty good.

After breakfast we registered for the convention, cashed a check, bought some lime candy, and returned to our room to map out what we wanted to do for the rest of the convention: what talks we wanted to go to, etc. (Oh, we did go to the Dealers' Room to see what books were for sale.) At about 3 PM we went to the discussion on what are the style differences between British and United States science fiction. Now, I had thought that United States science fiction was pessimistic, but the general opinion of this panel seems to be that American science fiction has much less downbeat writing than do British books. Toby Roxburgh bemoaned that it is getting harder for new British writers because each book has to be a known quantity to make a profit. American writers sell much better here than British writers. I see this as affirming my belief that readers don't want downbeat stylistic experiments. One editor told the story of getting one of her company's books returned to her by mail with a note saying, 'Please refund my money or send me another book. There is something wrong with this one. It doesn't make sense.'

The next panel was a retrospective on H. G. Wells. It started with Brian Stableford quoting Wells talking about the forwardthinking man versus the man more rooted in the present. He had his giants in FOOD OF THE GODS represent that forward-thinking man.

Wells himself turned against his own 'scientific romances' later in his career. He began to think and write about them in a condescending way.

This panel was not so much discussion but Stableford reading a lecture.

Before this lecture, in fact, at the British science fiction panel, I talked to a sightless fan who happened to sit next to me. I asked him about his science fiction reading. Apparently this is his first convention. He reads some of the classics but as I had guessed, he could read only what someone else thought was a classic. He'd read authors like Clarke, Asimov, Wyndham, a little Ballard, but he was hearing about the new writers for the first time. A sightless fan who can read only what has been translated into Braille is really reading a different science fiction than the rest of us.

It is interesting that my writing of travel logs, which I started eight years ago, has spread to Evelyn and now Dave Bara is writing one too. The three of us are sitting in the Wells lecture writing logs. There is a room full of people listening and in this one little pocket there are three people writing like mad while they listen. It must be an odd sight.

New point made by Stableford: between the World Wars Europe was rebuilding and the speculative writers were more used to seeing horrors of the present, so stressed more horrors of the future. Again a reason why European science fiction is more downbeat than American science fiction. I guess I hadn't realized European science fiction is considered so downbeat. I have been complaining that American writers who might be catching the imagination of youth are instead writing anti-technology diatribes thinly veiled. When a nationality gets in a position where wonder is dead and the future is something to fear and dread, then the young decide to make it while they can and the prophecies become self-fulfilling.

In Japan the popular entertainment is full of high-technology and battling robots. Now the robots thing sounds bad but it retains its sense of wonder. The philosophy is that we may have bad times ahead, but technology and a human will-to-live will eventually triumph. The way of the future is to live among the magic machines. Authors should be allowed to write about whatever they want, but science fiction is more self-fulfilling prophecy than self-averting, and a civilization that never dreams and only has nightmares really does have reason to fear the future.

I guess once you get into the practice of having nightmares, your nightmares get to be worth having.

Well, after the Wells presentation we met up with Kate, who'd left early, and Saul Jaffe who is a big honcho on the electronic bulletin board SF-Lovers Digest. (He edits the digest from Arpanet). Dave, Kate, Saul, Ev, and I went to the Aberdeen Steak House. I had lambchops; Ev had the grill platter. From there it was back to our room for some writing. Dave and Kate went to their room but later brought Cynthia to our room and we talked till about midnight. Then the women went to their respective rooms. Dave and I went to the Odeon Theatre to see EXPLORERS. The con has rented a local theater next to the convention center and after it would normally close they are showing two films a night--theater prints. That is a very nice touch.

EXPLORERS is the kind of story I loved to read when I was 10 or 11 years old. It is not great science fiction, but it has some charm and considerably more than I had expected. It came out of the Spielberg factory about the same time as an actively bad film called THE GOONIES and it got tarred with the same brush. I gave it a +1 and Dave gave it a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale. While it had a fair number of in-jokes, it also had a great respect for science fiction films in general and science fiction films of the 1950s in specific.

That went to about 2:30 AM and I set my watch to wake me up at 5:30 AM to see a film running in our hotel. I slept right through the alarm and woke about 6:30. It is now about 7:30 AM.

August 28 (1:13 PM): Breakfast was mushrooms, eggs, the like. After that we went to a poor excuse for a film called 99 and 44/100% DEAD. It had a good three minutes at the beginning and another good minute at the end. The rest was action scenes stuck together like pop-it beads. I rated it -2. Dave gave it -1. Evelyn liked it apparently and gave it a +1. Richard Harris plays Harry Crown, a sort of James Bond in an American gangster. He is the main character and the greatest characterization they give him is that he takes his glasses off and puts them back on a lot. This was directed by John Frankenheimer, who once did things like THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. This is sheer garbage except for Bradford Dillman, whose inconsistent speech defect and erratic performance don't even reach the standards of this film.

Following that I saw the last half of two American television writers, Alan Cole and Chris Bunch, talking about why American television is so bad. At least a third of the talk was how they accepted garbage assignments and did them for the money only. It quickly became obvious that these people were Joe Valachi's of television. They were not so much critics of the system, but part of the system who were willing to talk about it. They were schlock writers talking about their own contribution to the problem. And the audience cheered them.

Next Greg Bear and Brian Aldiss had a discussion about Olaf Stapledon. Olaf Stapledon was one of the great original writers. He writes books without characters that go on for more than a page or so. Instead he writes things that seem like history books but they go billions of years into the future. Aldiss told a story about how he stole a two-volume set of LAST AND FIRST MEN, the only book he ever stole! He was in the army in the Pacific during the second World War and found them on the shelves of an abandoned plantation. The Army had taken over the house and the books was so much better than the banal conversation of soldiers so he looted them. And they were with him for the rest of the war.

Then came a panel on science fiction in the 1950s with a moderator whom I did not recognize, together with Bob Shaw and Bob Silverberg. They reminisced about Peter Hamilton, who edited NEBULA SCIENCE FICTION. Silverberg talked about seeing Destination Moon in 1950 and when the lights came up he discovered John W. Campbell was sitting in front of him. (Ah--I am writing this as the discussion goes on. The joking moderator is Kenneth Bulmer.) As a thumbnail, what happened in the 1950s was a flowering of magazines, then books (both paperback and Science Fiction Book Club) killed off many of the magazines. Then the books backed out and at the end of the decade, other than a couple of magazines, Doubleday Books, and the Science Fiction Book Club, science fiction seemed dead. One of the audience asked why there was a move away from true science into psionics and similar false sciences. Silverberg seemed to want to ascribe it to the questioning of authority in the 1960s, but it clearly came much before that. It is tough to keep Bob Shaw on the subject. He is a heavy-drinking, joking Irishman.

Harry Harrison and George Hay next talked about John Campbell. Comment from Harrison: 'Talking with [JWC] is like tossing manhole covers.' Harrison thinks that modern science fiction writers 'all have their finger up their nose.' On one hand, he says that science fiction was invented by Campbell, but also that the modern writers do not write enough like the old days. Someone asked, if JWC were alive today, whose stories would he be buying? Harrison says it would be a bunch of better authors whom Campbell would have developed himself. Also, there is the old story about Godwin's story 'The Cold Equations,' about the stowaway girl who added too much mass to the rocket. Godwin rewrote it eight times saving the girl. Campbell would not accept the story until Godwin killed the girl. Either physics says the girl added too much mass and would have to go or there was no story. Of course, it is a better story without weaseling around the laws of physics.

The next presentation was on 50 years of Superman in various forms. A few interesting points were made. Clark Kent was a combination of Kent Taylor (the actor who was the brother-in-law of one of the creators of Superman) and Clark Gable. Kryptonite was invented because the radio actor Bud Collier wanted to go on vacation for two weeks and so they wanted to reduce the character he played, Superman, to a state of just coughing for two weeks. A number of interesting writers have written for comics, including Edmond Hamilton, Alfred Bester, and Ed Binder.

(11:13 PM): This is one of those 'you had to have been there' stories, but I will try to tell it anyway. I was walking back to my hotel a few minutes ago and in front of the Metropole Hotel was a man handing out convention news update sheets out of a Gestetner stencil box. He had apparently just told a non-convention member how to find someplace in Brighton. In a slurred voice, the nonmember was saying, 'Sanks. You have been a big help.' Then as he walked away, he said back over his shoulder, 'Good company, Gestetner!'

After the panel we went to a Greek restaurant for dinner. Evelyn, I, Kate, and Saul Jaffe went. We rushed back after dinner to see Lars von Trier's 1984 Danish film THE ELEMENT OF CRIME. All the scenes were shot in near-darkness and what you can see is in sepia tones. It involves a policeman investigating a crime in a post-destruction Copenhagen in which the whole city is flooded six feet deep in water. The soundtrack is indistinct and the film moves with a snail's pace.

August 29 (11:27 AM): So it was back to the room and a discussion with Dave as to how bad the film seemed to be.

At about 8:30 PM we went to the netnews party. I am sure that Evelyn will cover it and it was described on-line at the party. I talked to various people about what they already had done in Britain and what they will be doing for the rest of the trip. Not thrilling but it passed time.

After being there an hour or so, I returned to our room for a while, somewhat ahead of Evelyn. I did some reading and a little before midnight Evelyn showed up and I headed out for a movie at the Odeon. Like EXPLORERS, this was to be a theatrical print of a film shown in a genuine theater. I had better than a half an hour so I stopped on the way for what was billed as a reading by horror writers Ramsay Campbell and Clive Barker of their own stories.

Barker is a new, young, horror-story writer who has some really off-beat ideas for horror stories. Stephen King is popular but he really does not have enough new and original ideas in horror fiction. Barker is considered to be the real current superstar by most people who read a lot of horror novels rather than by those who read best-sellers. Barker, however, did not show up. Campbell did. Campbell's novels have a great deal of respect among horror readers. He is sort of the grand old man of horror writers. A case could be made that either is the most popular British writer of horror fiction.

Barker did not show up but I did see what Campbell is like. Campbell has the same sort of looks that Bob Shaw has. Campbell looks a little younger and more jolly, but they are both plump and red-faced. However, if you notice, their most prominent feature actually changes. Each has at the end of his right arm a piece of glass, a mug-like object. But it changes in cycles. It will be full of a clear, brown, foamy liquid, then it will be half full. Sometimes it will be nearly empty. Then suddenly it will be full again and the cycle will begin again like it did ten minutes before.

I had time to hear one horror story from Campbell, a sort of whimsical thing about going to see a neighbor's slides of a holiday trip and not realizing the neighbors did not come back quite human. GASP!

After that I had to be off to my film. MUTANT is a low-budget American film that is a re-telling of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD--as many cheap horror films are--with toxic waste given this time as the reason for the transformation. I gave it a zero rating. Dave gave it a -1.
August 30 (8:30 AM): Well, I am now a day behind. That is a pretty constant state. At a convention, a trip log can not stay up-to-date for more than a few minutes at a time or it is a bad science fiction convention.

Breakfast was a carbon copy of every other breakfast at this hotel. I had a spirited discussion with Evelyn about science fiction. She would like to see the category just go away. In fact, she wants to see all categorization of fiction go away. I cannot represent her reasoning but I think it revolves around the fact that borders between types of fiction are not well-defined so she wants to remove all distinctions. I guess this would involve having just one big fiction section in libraries and bookstores. She would still have non-fiction categorized because it is useful to have it categorized. From my point of view she is forgetting that the distinction between categories of non-fiction may be just as indistinct and indeed the distinction between fiction and nonfiction. Her same arguments, carried to their logical ends, would mean just having all books alphabetized by author without regard to content. This is really, I believe, at basis an old complaint that Evelyn has had that there is a science fiction ghetto. People look down on science fiction and other people will read only science fiction. What results is a 'categorism' (to coin a word) that is akin to racism. I agree that the current system of categorizing fiction has problems, but it is still more useful than not having genres of literature acknowledged. I was also a bit surprised when Evelyn asked me why my approach in the argument was to pick holes in her proposal rather than to defend the current system other than to say it seems to work. This seems to me to indicate a fundamental misunderstanding in the rules of logic. One does not have to defend the Status quo in logical argument; if a change to the Status quo is proposed, it becomes the battlefield. One side defends the change; the other side attacks it. A discussion of whether the status quo is good or bad is pointless.

In any case this is all moot. People categorized literature because it was useful to do so. I think most people realize that categorizing fiction or anything else may have problems, but it is more useful than ignoring distinctions. When Evelyn convinces a single branch of B. Dalton to alphabetize all their fiction I will believe her proposal might catch on. When I was growing up most public libraries did alphabetize all fiction together. Then they started putting stickers on the spine of the book. A rocket in an atom meant it was science fiction. Then many of the science fiction books were pulled out and put in a bookcase labeled 'science fiction.' Today most libraries acknowledge genres and have sections for science fiction, mystery, westerns, etc. It would appear most people like it that way. To the best of my knowledge, bookstores depend on the fact that people really do find categorization useful and have for a long time.

Following breakfast Evelyn and I continued on to see the art show. It is a fair-sized art show but not really all that great. It is spread out over two rooms but nothing all that impressive. One mother was carrying around a three-year-old. She pointed out one of Charlene Taylor's 'Teddy Bears in Space' pictures, assuming the teddy bears would interest the child. In a loud voice the child said, 'I don't like that.' I told Evelyn that I hated to admit it, but the child was absolutely right. At one time Taylor was promising but her cutesy artwork now is just a little sickening.

Evelyn then went to do some autograph hunting and I looked around the huckster room. The noon panel was on horror writing. This time Clive Barker did show up. He looks a lot like a young version of Eric Idle and he smokes big Cuban cigars that smell up the room. Campbell was there with his beer, too. Someone suggested that the popularity of horror might stem from its unfamiliarity, that these days very few of us have ever seen a corpse. However, as Campbell pointed out, the Italians surround themselves with dead in catacombs but they also make films like TOMB OF THE BLIND DEAD with very realistic-looking corpses on horseback. They were asking who in the audience actually were in professions where they had to come in contact with the dead. One nurse talked about it, but what really surprised us was that Kate Pott in our own group did the most. We all knew she worked in a nursing home and we figured it was doing things like caring for people and cleaning up. Apparently a big part of her job is what she called (and what got a big laugh) 'post-mortem care.' This involves dressing and making up the dead before they are removed to mortuaries. Kate knew she was fascinated by Clive Barker and his work. Now Barker seemed to be just as fascinated with what she does. Barker interviewed her for about five minutes in front of the audience, getting details of what post-mortem care was and what various tasks it involved. Barker had a real curiosity for detail. He made wisecracks through the whole thing, but it was clear the details might be useful to him in horror writing.

A couple of other interesting points of the panel: One told an anecdote about a hospital that had hired a hunchback to carry around the dead bodies. It apparently included carrying them across a courtyard. It was not the kind of job that has a whole lot of applicants, nor could it pay very well. This rather scruffy-looking unfortunate was willing to take the job. But the hospital had to fire him because patients would look out their windows and see this hunchback carrying around dead bodies and the image was a little too evocative of cheap horror film.

For a couple of hours we walked around and socialized. I had a ginger beer with Cynthia and Kate. I went back to the room, got the book catalog of all our books, returned to an inexpensive book- seller, and bought a couple of inexpensive books of horror stories. I sat and talked with Dave while he drank a beer. Then at 3 PM I went to a panel on how necessary violence is in literature. There were people like Ramsay Campbell and Orson Scott Card. These are people who do tend to put some violence in their writing. They discussed the recent Hungerford massacre in which a gunman killed a dozen or so people. These are relatively common in the United States but in Britain this sort of massacre is very unusual and has been front-page news for over a week. They talked a little about the psychology of reaction to violence. When people hear that the gunman killed 13 people there is not a lot of reaction. When they say that the first woman killed was a mother who was laying out a picnic lunch for her two small children, that personalizes her and people feel a lot worse. What they said was more profound than just that personalizing makes writing more real, but for brevity I won't go into it all.

One comment I ought to make. Last British convention I was impressed with how much more polite and interested in science fiction British fans were. Things seem to have deteriorated somewhat in the last eight years. There seems to be more drinking, more drunkenness. The punk movement seems to have made rudeness more of an 'in' thing. The partying sort of American fans were less willing to cross the Atlantic so the Americans fans are no better or worse than they were eight years ago. But now that same level of etiquette is much closer to the level of the British fans. If anything, on the whole Americans seem better-behaved than the British.

Next came one of the more interesting discussions, at least as far as I was concerned. Several people who had written books on the science fiction film got together to discuss the question of when was the 'Golden Age' of science fiction film. Most seemed to share my feeling that it was the 1950s when it has its greatest number of new ideas. When THEM!, for example, came along the producers were trying to create a new science fiction idea. After that, a lot of films just tried to recreate THEM!. I think one thing that contributed was that science fiction films were only a small part of the studios' budgets so they afford to be somewhat experimental. In 1965, 2% of film ticket sales were for science fiction/horror/fantasy films. By 1985 that figure jumped to 58%. One of the more interesting and humorous speakers is Bill Warren. Warren really knows science fiction films, has a good sense of humor, and actually looks very funny. He must be extremely nearsighted; his glasses are very thick and shrink his eyes down to looking like they are about 2/3 scale. The effect is sort of like Ernie Kovacs used to have for a character he called something like Percy Dovetonsils. In any case, it really adds to his facial expression.

(5:00 PM): People were meeting in the lobby of our hotel for dinner at 6:15 PM, so I went back to my room to work on this log. On the way we stopped at a local candy store and I got some very good lime chocolates.

Cynthia came up to the room with us and we talked. Dave came up later. At 6:15 Dave, Cynthia, Evelyn, I, Dale, and Jo went out to eat. We found a very good Italian restaurant. I had an appetizer of Spaghetti Carbonara. First time I tried it and it was very good. I also had chicken in a cream and tomato sauce and it tasted very good also.

The convention masquerade was scheduled to start at 6 PM, but these things never start on time. Well, after dinner Cynthia and I set off to see the masquerade. Well, for once apparently the masquerade did start on time and was over by the time we got there. While we were in the convention center I did see the local newspaper had done a big spread on the science fiction convention. Now this convention and most these days try to discourage the wearing of costumes (except at the masquerade). However, the paper had managed to find some attendees who'd come in costume and their picture was plastered over the front page (whose headline was 'The Force is with us'). They then got some women, dressed them up in outfits that tastefully combined a futuristic look with the look of hookers, put dayglow orange wigs on them, and sat them into the convention center to sell the newspapers with the odious story. Regrettably, nobody strangled them and unfortunately some people actually bought newspapers from them. Newspaper coverage of science fiction conventions uniformly misinterprets things to an appalling degree. I am not too impressed with a lot of fans, but they are a heck of a lot better than they appear in the papers.

Dave Bara had said that he'd read that the BBC would be showing THE DEVIL RIDES OUT at 8:45 PM, so we went back to our room to watch it. Unfortunately, it was actually scheduled for 10:55 and we'd already planned to be busy at that time.

Back at the room we read and eventually Dale and Jo dropped over to join us watching the movie which we weren't going to see. So we did have someone to talk to. At 11 PM, we went to the Odeon to see DEATH LINE, a very weak British film concerning a killer in the London Underground. He apparently is the offspring of Irish laborers trapped in a cave-in in 1890. There are some humorous lines, but overall it isn't that good. So that was it for Saturday, day 3 of the 5-day convention.

Sunday is Hugo day. It is now 8:05 PM and I am sitting at the Hugo awards. Evelyn slept a little late, having gone to the Odeon movie last night.

ANSIBLE just won for fanzine. Brad Foster was fan artist. Dave Langford won for fan writer. LOCUS wins as semi-prozine. Terry Carr--editor. Jim Burns--artist. ALIENS--dramatic presentation. TRILLION YEAR SPREE--non-fiction. 'Tangents' by Greg Bear--short story. 'Permafrost' by Roger Zelazny--novelette. 'Gilgamesh in the Outback' by Robert Silverberg--novella. SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD, Orson Scott Card--novel. Karen Joy Fowler--John W. Campbell Award.

August 31 (11:09 AM): If the last words are hard to read, I wrote them in the dark at the Hugo awards. Well, I am now over a day behind in covering the con in spite of setting aside writing time. The faster I run the behinder I get. I now have a good deal more respect for people who write convention reports. I thought it was pretty tough just writing a trip log where you might do two things that need a describing in a day. At a convention you are doing something different each hour and what you do for one hour may need as much description as a visit to Hampton Court. What is more, when you are done at Hampton Court you get on a train whilst Hampton Court is still fresh in your mind. Here you go running to the next event and you cannot write while you are running. Okay. So here goes. Back to the fray.

Yesterday we had a late breakfast, much like every other breakfast we have had here. The major variation is whether there are kidneys put out on the buffet. Some days there are; some days there are not. It actually does not impact greatly on my breakfast, but is a noted variation.

The first panel I went to was at 11 AM and was 'Gothic SF-- Where Horror meets Science Fiction.' This discussed things like science fiction novels with vampires. Someone talked about how horror intersects with science fiction. In the 18th Century the concept was that the universe worked like a well-oiled clock. In the 19th there was the same concept but occasionally there was a mouse in the gears. Things can go wrong with the orderly progress of the universe (I would have to say, as the speakers did not, that this concept is mostly late 1800s with authors like Wells.) Even Verne seemed to believe in the orderly progress of the universe. There is a vast spectrum in writers. John Campbell believed all things were knowable In 'Who Goes There?' we have the humans confronting the alien and defeating it. by analysis of the alien's blood and our analysis works. The other extreme is H. P. Lovecraft, where you may not see some of the true lands of the earth. People who see as little of them as their shadows on the wall go mad. One says that the universe is all-knowable; the other says that we are incapable of handling any knowledge at all about the universe. All science fiction novels fall somewhere on this axis.

Following that, I met with Evelyn and we went back to our hotel to see an episode of an old British television show called COL. MARCH INVESTIGATES. Its claim to fame and the reason it is being shown at the convention is that it stars Boris Karloff. The story involved a skull, supposedly of a missing link, stolen from a museum. The solution to the mystery involved the jawbone being from a very old species and the cranium being from a murdered member of the scientific expedition that found the supposed fossil. For many years of intense scientific study, nobody noticed that the two didn't really go together. I suppose this was inspired by the Piltdown forgery, but that was many years earlier. The idea that the forgery would go so long undiscovered is absurd. Someone was asking this weekend why filmmakers didn't hire scientific experts to clean up technical problems in story plots. The answer is simple: in a story like this, to clean up the inaccuracies would be to throw out the entire story.

After that it was back to the room for 'writers' workshop.' Actually, writers' workshops are officially a convention activity to help people improve their writing style, but we have come to use the expression for working on the logs.

After about an hour we went to see another half-hour television show from the 1950s, THE ADVENTURES OF FU MANCHU, with Glen Gordon playing the Chinese arch-criminal with a really absurd accent. This episode was about a plot to ruin the United States economy by counterfeiting billions od dollars with perfect copies and then dropping them on major cities, hence making real money worthless. Curiously, the stories are set in the United States with a Denis Nayland Smith on loan from England and an American Dr. Petrie.
Next we went to the Guest of Honor film show and interview with Ray Harryhausen. Growing up, I had two real heroes connected with film. One was Peter Cushing. He is an actor who was vastly underrated because he was known mostly for horror film roles. He claimed never to do his roles tongue-in-cheek. I might disagree about one or two films, but on the whole there were many films that were vastly better for his performance. The other hero was Ray Harryhausen, who for 20 years did the most creative and imaginative special effects of anyone alive. His films include BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA, SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, VALLEY OF GWANGI, GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD, and most recently CLASH OF THE TITANS. He talked about his experiences filmmaking, particularly in making SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD. It was a project that he had sketches for and wanted to do for years, but nobody thought there was much money to be made with an Arabian Nights film. He had worked up sketches of what he could do with the concept in 1948. In 1951 he'd made BEAST FROM 20,00 FATHOMS, which brought him to longtime partner Charles Schneer's attention. Schneer wanted to do a film which in which a monster destroyed the Golden Gate Bridge (I wonder if the term 'low concept' might apply). He'd seen BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS and got Harryhausen for IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA. Harryhausen had done the octopus--actually a hexapus to save animation work. The two worked together, making many science fiction films with good special effects but otherwise mediocre production values. The films included 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH and EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS. They were looking for new projects and Harryhausen pulled out the Sinbad sketches to show Schneer. Schneer liked the idea. Columbia Pictures was less than keen, but was eventually convinced. They were given a budget way too low, particularly because the material called for Harryhausen to use color for the first time. His main technique was stop-motion, with which you build a metal skeleton with ball-and-socket joints, put a rubberized hide on it, sculpt features, and then film it a frame at a time.

They wanted a better score than the usual cheap Columbia stuff, so they took the film to Bernard Herrmann. It really wasn't Herrmann's sort of film since it was basically a children's film. I could be wrong, but the only previous fantastical film Herrmann had scored was DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. Herrmann's usual reaction to overtures that he should do this sort of film was 'Why are you showing me this garbage?' To the filmmakers' surprise, he responded to SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD with excitement and in the years that followed he scored several Harryhausen films and became associated with them as he became associated with Hitchcock films.

It occurred to me watching his clips of CLASH OF THE TITANS that artists have been drawing the winged horse Pegasus for 3000 or 3500 years. In all that time Harryhausen may have been the first artist ever to give serious thought to how a winged horse would land. The film shows it in a very smooth and believable motion of the horse landing back legs first and then lowering the forelegs. I might almost say the motion is natural, but it occurs to me that no normal horse would have anything like an analogous motion. When jumping they land forelegs first and if they do that from too great a height they break their front legs.

During the question-and-answer, I asked how he made a motion no horse could duplicate seem so natural. He first gave some credit to FANTASIA for doing winged horses in motion but added that threedimensional animation forces realism constraints that are not present with flat animation. Why rear legs first? The wings would be over the shoulders giving less support at lower speeds to the rear portions.

Harryhausen also mentioned that he had done sketches and test footage for a WAR OF THE WORLDS set in Victorian times. I was curious to find out how the tripod war machines would walk, but I never got a chance to ask.

For reasons I wasn't clear on, Caroline Munro was at Harryhausen's talk. Rarely do female stars get attached to the science fiction/fantasy genre. Caroline Munro is fairly attractive and was in several fantasy films back in the 1970s, including Harryhausen's GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD and STARCRASH. I got a picture of her. Now, I saw Elke Sommer when I lived in Detroit and the first quarter-inch of her was solid make-up. I expected that was pretty standard. Caroline Munro is no raving beauty, but she looks pretty much the same close up as she looks on the screen. And oddly, I had the feeling she could go back and shoot scenes for GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD at least 12 years later and they would be indistinguishable from the originals.

We were at that presentation for about 90 minutes, then I went back to the room to write and at 5:15 PM we met with Dale, Jo, Kate, Dave, and Pete and went to eat at a Greek steak house. I had lamb.

We then went en masse to the Hugo awards. This is really one of the big events of the convention. The Hugo Awards are given in an event much like the Academy Awards. This is the big fan-awarded prize. Well, we started to line up for the award ceremony. Evelyn had asked at the information desk where to line up and they told her where to go. We were lined up with a fair number of people lined up behind us. A little German woman came over to talk with us and join us in line. She is the same woman who pushed to the front of the line before the Hugo ceremonies last year in Atlanta. Dave also remembers her. If she pushes to the head of the line in New Orleans next year it may be to her disadvantage. As it turns out, where they told us to line up was the wrong place. So getting in was a hassle. Earlier in this log I recorded who won the various Hugos. Greg Bear's story 'Tangents' was the only winner I really wanted to win.

Following the awards there was a very nice fireworks dispay on the beach. It lasted about 20 minutes but had enough for 60 minutes of display the way they would be done in the United States. Then it was back to the room to talk a little while and I slipped out to see STATIC, the last of the Odeon films. This was an odd film about a man with an odd invention. It is a tough film to describe without giving too much away, but it is about a rock musician who goes to visit her boyfriend who is working on some sort of strange invention. On the way back to the hotel, Dave and I ran into Kate and Cynthia. Kate had seen STATIC, so we could discuss it with her. After a little while it was back inside and to bed.

Monday is kind of a wind-down day. Evelyn was late getting up. Breakfast as usual. The first panel was 'Science Fiction is History's Dustbin.' Nobody had any idea what that was supposed to be about, including the panelists. It was a less than enthralling panel and I spent most of it listening with one ear but writing my log.

The next panel, 'The Unnatural History of the Vampire,' had four writers of vampire novels talking about traditional monsters. To begin with, each of the authors (George R. R. Martin, Tanith Lee, Suzy McKee Charnas, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro) talked about the traditional vampire rules that he/she broke in his/her writing. I later asked the curmudgeonly question: 'Where do you draw the line between writing stories about vampires who do reflect in mirrors and about giants who don't happen to be tall?'

'Well,' they farbled, 'it is intrinsic to a giant that he is tall. The only thing intrinsic about a vampire is that he drinks blood.' Someone else corrected them and said, 'No, some vampires drink lifeforce,' then they went off on a tangent about Japanese vampires who drink spinal fluid. But the audience reaction to my question had been pretty good.

Martin puts vampires on riverboats, so clearly they are not afraid of running water. Tanith Lee says that her vampires are very modern and can walk around in the daytime on cloudy days. Charnas said, 'I discarded all the old rubbish.'

There was some discussion of why vampires and werewolves were so popular. Someone suggested that it is because ordinary people like us become them. Ordinary people do not become mummies. Mummies are an ineffective monster because they move so slowly. Someone quoted Bill Cosby as saying, 'Anyone caught by the Mummy deserved it.' They talked about how it is pretty tough to show a dragon on film and so much cheaper to do a vampire or a werewolf. Also, we seem to know the mythos of vampires and werewolves.

Tanith Lee told an interesting anecdote about a kindergarden class in the United States who was asked to draw pictures of wolves. They drew pictures that were mostly mouths and teeth. Then a semidomesticated wolf was brought into the classroom and the children were allowed to pet it. The only moment of trouble they had was when it came time to take the wolf away and the children started crying when they didn't want to see it go. After that the class was told again to draw pictures of wolves. This time they drew bright eyes and sleek coats and giant feet since wolves do seem to have very big feet. This is the kind of lesson meant more for parents and is more lost on the kids.

There was some discussion of zombies and their basis in reality. It has been only relatively recently that we have been able to determine with some certainty that a person is dead. That is part of the reason for laying a person out for a few days before burial--to give the person a chance to change his mind and get up. A headstone is for the opposite reason; it marks the grave but it is also to hold the departed down.

In a previous panel it had been noted that vampires were upper-class, werewolves were middle-class, and zombies were lowerclass.

Once again someone noted that vampires were upper-class, and Evelyn asked how many of the panelists had read VARNEY THE VAMPIRE. The is the famous pre-DRACULA vampire novel. Dover Books reprinted it. Tanith Lee claimed to have read some parts. Nobody else had.

After that panel, Ev and I and Jo and Dale went for lunch. We ate at a French restaurant and had the worst meal of the trip so far. Neither the selection nor the quality was particularly good.

After that the panel was 'Lysenko Lives--Scientific Myths That Serve the Cause.' Again, it was half an ear listening and half an ear log-writing. One interesting comment I did glean is that the United States government does know plague containment techniques and might use them against AIDS, but doesn't dare because the far right and far left don't want to see it done. The far right wants to see AIDS run its course against homosexuals and minorities. The far left doesn't want to see minorities restricted by quarantines.

Next I went to a discussion of science fiction in the 1980s, but soon decided they were going to talk only about conventions and fandom in the 1980s. So instead I decided to walk out on Brighton Pier.

This was Banque Holiday and the beach and pier were thronged with people. The feel was very much like British must have felt after World War II. The town had put out striped beach lounges. There was a sort of makeshift bandstand where someone in a white suit and flat straw hat was singing 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles.' A lot of older people were sunning themselves and listening. Perhaps beach is the wrong word to what was there. It was more a bank of pebbles going into the water. People seem to walk on it barefoot which may mean that the British still have what it takes to be an empire.

One amusement pier has corroded away already and the one that is used is showing some signs that it may follow in another few years. A pier does not offer a whole lot of space, but it is enough to put up some rides and have a couple of pavilions for gambling. It has shooting galleries, sellers hawking plastic swords, prefabbed practical jokes and the like, bouncing chambers, candy-floss sellers, lots of stuff like that. I guess one of the stranger things there is a bookstore. I don't think you'd find much of a bookstore at most of our amusement parks. Mostly it was for the older people who were reading on the pier, but a lot of the books for sale were for teenaged readers. They were things like Mack Bolen novels. On the pier they broadcast popular music hosted by a disk jockey who advertised a place to buy sunglasses. I am pretty sure he was broadcasting only for the pier and the places he advertised were certainly on the pier.

I walked through one of the casinos and saw people playing slot machines--not the one-armed bandits of Nevada, but ones that looked more like you'd expect in an amusement park.
As you walked along, you heard all sorts of British accents, particularly Cockney and what I think might be called toffee-nosed. One little girl talking to her father called him DAH-dee. I tend to think of that as un upper-class accent, but one look at the family killed that theory right away.

If you continue on out toward the end of the pier, past the guy selling used records, you suddenly find all the noise dying down. At the end of the pier things are pretty quiet. People sit there looking out over the water. The railings of rusting metal frame the peaceful scene of the water.

Well, I headed back to the hotel to see a movie. I ran into Dale and Jo doing their last sightseeing along the beach. Said goodbye and continued on to our hotel to see the film THE WHIP HAND. It has to do with a reporter who stumbles onto a Soviet plan to loose germ warfare on the United States. The film was made in the early 1950s. They don't make films like this any more. Today the hero would be teenaged, the music would be rock, and it would be in color. Otherwise, it could be almost identical.

At the film I met up with Chuck, Evelyn, Kate, Dave, and Cynthia. We went out for fish and chips. I had haddock and 'choclate' ice cream (as the menu misspelled it). Afterward, Cynthia, Kate, Dave, and I walked out on the pier so that they could see what I saw earlier. We also rode the ghost train (Dave didn't). Cynthia got candy floss (a.k.a. cotton candy).

After that we went to our last con activity, a play made up of four short stories by Alfred Bester. One of the stories, 'They Don't Make Life Like They Used To,' I recently spent a half-hour trying to find because I did not remember the title or the author. I only vaguely remembered where I had read the story. That didn't work. Well, now I can find it when I get home. As this finishes the England part of our trip, let me make a few short random observations:

POTATO CHIPS: Here called potato crisps. For some reason, most of the chips you get in the United States taste burnt. Lays also has some coating that seems to coat the teeth and make them feel like I've been sucking lemons. British potato crisps are much better.

DRINKING: There is a lot more beer drinking in England than I remember from the last trip. Most British males seem to drink gallons a week. In the cities everyone seems to pub-crawl. I hop this isn't a sign of things to come.

CARNIVAL: In England, held Banque Holiday weekend. It seems to attract people from all over the world. Not as big as Brazil's yet, but getting bigger. It was in London while we were in Brighton. Each year there is a crime wave with it. This year it was also the occasion for a riot and drinking (q.v.).

WALKMAN RADIOS: Jeez. They're everywhere over here. Perhaps more than you see in the United States. And the batteries cost about a dollar apiece.

CHOCOLATE BARS: Everyone knows the Brits cannot make hamburgers and the United States can't make chocolate. No point in repeating that. Instead, what I am commenting on is the odd agreement between Cadbury and Nestle. Every Underground tunnel has a Cadbury machine. Every train station has a Nestle machine. And they each stay off the other's turf.

JAPAN SF: The Japanese are becoming a major presence at international science fiction conventions. Dave asked one when they would be having their own World Science Fiction Convention. They said they hoped they wouldn't. There would be too many rules 'like this convention.' The Americans don't have so many rules and they (the Japanese) feel they can cut loose at an American con. That is just the sort of thing American cons are trying to avoid. I think this guy will discover the Americans will have more rules in times to come. A book I was reading said the Japanese like to lead double lives, being tame and respectable at home, but when the family cannot them they can be pretty wild. Supposedly this principle explains how such a civilized people did some pretty uncivilized things in World War II.

SURFACE CURRENT: Cynthia knows what I am talking about and has the same odd talent. So does her mother. What is this all about? It seems I have a very rare power, or perhaps the correct word is 'sensitivity,' though that seems to make it sound occult. I can feel if some appliances are plugged in or not by running my hand on them and feeling some kind of surface current. I can't really explain it. At one time I thought everybody could do this. Take our electric fan at home. Leave it turned off but plug it in. If I run my hand down the side, I can feel something that almost feels like it is vibrating. Unplug it and the vibrating stops. I have tried to explain it to other people, assuming that they could feel it too. Nobody has ever known what I was talking about. I slowly began to realize that almost nobody could feel this surface current. At the L5 Society I could even feel the current in a metal table that had a plugged-in television on it. I had Chuck Divine plug and unplug the television and without looking, only by feeling, I could tell him when he had the television plugged in. Evelyn still assumed I was playing some sort of clever trick. Admittedly that is a very reasonable suspicion but, in fact, she was wrong. I shortly thereafter discovered the electric fan in our den also gets a surface current. I had Ev plug it in and unplug it and that fairly quickly convinced her I really could feel something different when there was power to the fan. I mentioned to Cynthia that I have this ability and she at least claimed to know what I was talking about and that she could feel it too. It may be that the appliance has a small short in it and you get very small shocks when you rub your hand over it. Perhaps some people feel these shocks and some do not.






Scotland




September 2 (7:31 AM): Well, we are now halfway into our trip, or will be today. We are in Scotland and I'd hoped that I would be caught up on this log by now. I am still 24 hours behind in spite of writing through the train ride yesterday. We got up earlier yesterday. Had our last Brighton breakfast and had a cab called and went to the train station.

We caught a train for Victoria Station. On the way we talked to a local fan, a security guard, who is a fan of hard scientific science fiction. There are a lot of these people who are just making ends meet and who travel the cheapest way possible to get to the few local science fiction conventions. I talked about BBC science fiction plays we get in the United States which he also liked, but when we told him the best we'd seen was AN ENGLISHMAN'S CASTLE, he'd never heard of it. The problem, apparently, was that it didn't sound like science fiction so he probably didn't watch it. Subtlety has its problems. In the United States you know what is science fiction on television because it gets names like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. Of course, you also get science fiction of the quality of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, which is much worse.

At Victoria Station we caught the Underground for King's Cross and there caught the train for Edinburgh. As you travel you see a sort of movement backward in time. You see a city built high with brown bricks and homes with laundry hanging in the back yards. This eventually gives way to smaller towns placed one against another. Then smaller towns with field land between them. The fields get wider. Soon you have rolling grassy hills with sheep grazing. It becomes serenely pastoral. The sky becomes very blue, the grass very green. (The two colors really don't go very well together; someone will have to manage it better next time.) There is one stretch where you see a beautiful blue vista of the North Sea with a giant rock island jutting out from the green fields and the sheep. Fantastic! We did have some grey weather on the way, but by the time we got to Edinburgh the sky was clear again. I spent most of the time writing this log and looking out the window.

At the train station in Edinburgh there is classical music playing in a pleasant arrangement. There is a queue for taxis. We waited about ten minutes and got to the head of the queue. The cab afforded our first view of the city. It is a combination of modern-looking stores and older architecture. Spires seem to be very popular. At the end of town where our hotel is, the most notable landmark is the Scott Monument. There is not much to it but spires. It has spires on the four corners, leaving the center section open where there is a statue of Sir Walter Scott. To keep the statue dry there is a bigger spire in the center.

One thing that I suppose was a little unexpected: plaid patterns are rarer than I'd have thought. Plaid seems to be mostly reserved for things connected with tourism. I guess if you don't have claim to some tartan, you don't wear it. Very rarely but occasionally you do see someone wearing a kilt on the street.

We were taken to the hotel by our taxi. As we opened the door, a large round grey and white head with two different colored eyes popped out of the door. It was a sheepdog whose weight, I'd guess, is closer to mine than to Evelyn's. He seemed friendly enough (and it was a darn good thing!) and like most dogs I found him very likable. The Scots, I must say, like no other people, understand the relative merits of dogs and cats. Cats are household parasites that can be good company. I have seen no sign that they are particularly popular as pets. Dogs too seem to be recognized for what they are, creatures who live in a close symbiosis with humans- -a sort of partnership in which neither expects something for nothing.

This is the city that erected a (small) statue to a dog, Greyfriar's Bobby. Bobby guarded the grave of his master for twelve years in the hopes, presumably, that his master would one day return. Dogs seem to exhibit very human virtues, often unrestrained by what we would consider common sense or self-interest. Bobby spent almost all his life mourning a master who it is hard to imagine warranted or even would have wanted such loyalty. The military museum (I have yet to describe it) honors a dog who was given the Victoria Cross, but allowed to wear it only once a year. I don't remember the full story but Paddy was honored for his courage in bringing humans to safety under the fire of enemy bullets. It is difficult to imagine that Paddy benefited much in terms he understood except for perhaps a little extra affection from his master and maybe a nice meal or two. As you can tell, I have a lot of respect for dogs. And canines in general.

Well, that was an extensive digression. At any rate, we went to the desk of the hotel and the woman asked us 'Leeper?' This is not a fancy hotel; it is really just a converted house, but it appears that we are the only guests. We got our room key and went up to our room. I'd say the windows in our room are six feet wide and must be ten feet high. The room has a single bed, a double bed, and a pre-fab shower stall stuck in a closet. There is also a sink but the toilet is public, though just outside our door. The room may be twice the size of a room in Brighton and it was larger than our London room.

We dropped off our stuff and at 6 in the evening, we set out to see the city. One of the first interesting things I saw was their variation on the parking meter. There is a machine on the street that sells adhesive tickets with a time on them. For 20 pence, say, it will give you a ticket with a time one hour in the future. That makes parking a real pain in the rain, particularly if your car is some distance from the ticket machine. Feeding the meter is probably a pain too, since the tickets are not additive.

So, off we went. We saw the Burns Memorial and puzzled over what it might be until I read it with binoculars. Continuing to Princes Street, we puzzled over what turned out to be the Scott Monument. Then we looked at some shops, went into a bookstore but didn't buy. Then we set off looking for dinner and finally went to a pizza restaurant, one of a chain that seem to be all over Edinburgh. The pizza was expensive and mediocre by United States standards. We then went back to sit under the Scott Monument and write in our logs. After half an hour we went back to our hotel and claimed one more day under our belt. Evelyn dropped off to sleep early and I (guess what?) wrote in my log. When I caught up to 24 hours behind, I started reading a Scottish horror story.

I woke up about 2:15 AM, shut off the lights, and went to sleep. This morning I woke up thinking about a mathematical problem.

September 3 (7:06 AM): The problem revolved around what it is that binoculars actually do. Suppose you have eight-power binoculars. An object of one foot in height will end up looking eight feet high. Yet the viewer does not have to look up at it. Once the problem is expressed that way, it is relatively easy to resolve. But there is more than that. The original question was, why is it when one stands next to a tall monument and looks at the top does it appear to be leaning over the viewer? If all points are brought to one-eighth the distance, the result is still a figure that stands vertically.

Well, breakfast was fairly good. I had oatmeal (Scott's Porage Oats), which had much smaller grain, almost as small as something like Wheatena. I also had eggs and, of course, toast wedges.

We then rushed out to catch a city tour. We got one and our first stop was the Castle. There are two 'towns' in Edinburgh, an older one and a newer one. Why they don't consider that a town that just expanded I am not sure. Old Edinburgh is 1333 years old this year, having been founded in 654 with the building of the Castle. The newer city, founded in 1768, lies on the other side of what is Princes Street.

The Castle overlooks the city and has a big gun fired every day at 1 PM. The idea was inspired by the Paris lunch gun that was fired twelve times at noon. The economical Scots decided 1 PM was a better time for lunch. It is funny that the traditional Scottish attitude toward money and the supposed Jewish attitude are much the same, but the Jews seem to get more flak for it.

The Castle seems to be used now as a collection of museums. The first is a museum of military regalia. Included is Bob, a heroic dog who was stuffed on his death. In a way he is still providing service after his death. I also saw a ram's head that was turned into a table snuff mull. These days I think all table snuff mulls are made by Tupperware. Continuing on, you see various historic rooms. There are the crown jewels of Scotland which the Queen of England is specifically forbidden to wear. This is in the Crown Room. Go a little further and you find the Scottish National Naval, Military, and Air Force Museum. It is an impressive name, but small compared to the military museums in England. The Hall of Honors (a separate building) has, by regiment, a book listing all Scotsmen killed in war from World War I and World War II to the present. We also saw the graveyard for military dogs. The bus driver/guide said that anyone who came back with the name of the most famous dog would get to drive the bus. Not that I was greatly anxious to drive, but we copied down the names from all the gravestones we could read. He said it was none of those. Later he told us about Paddy, whose name cannot be read off the stone; you have to feel the letters.
After the Castle we went to St. Giles Cathedral, though it is considered a cathedral only under a technicality. Since it is Presbyterian these days, it ought not to be considered a cathedral. Apparently for Edinburgh to be given certain political rights, there are criteria it has to fulfill--I don't quite follow it. In any case, the locals needed to be able to claim that there was a cathedral in Edinburgh. So St. Giles was designated.

On the stained glass windows I noted that Christ and people they like are done in light translucent colors; Romans and other people the Church doesn't like are done in darker, opaque colors. Hence the windows are programmed to give mystical religious experiences whenever the sun shines. You know, 'when the sun shines, the Son shines.' I know just standing there I had a deeply moving, spiritual, mystical experience of seeing a glowing Christ in the middle of a stained glass window. Like Ahkaton, I now worship the sun. Send me one million dollars or the sun is going to call me home and I'll end up crispy like the marshmallow that fell into the campfire.

A side chapel has a memorial to Robert Louis Stevenson, who as far as I know was not a particularly religious figure. He wrote popular novels of adventure which did nothing to bring people to the Church. So after his death his name is used to bring people to the Cathedral.

Also buried is the Marquis of Montrose, who was executed for treason on the accusation of the Duke of Argyll. The Duke was also beheaded for treason and likewise interred in the Cathedral. Our driver thought this was a great joke because the two headless ghosts would duel every night. I frankly doubt that the ghosts would have fought more than two or three times. Probably less.

At one time the Cathedral housed four religions at once. I think they were Catholic, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Collegians. The last is an off-shoot of Catholicism that allows priests to marry. I think also one believes you put milk in tea and the other thinks it should be lemon. In any case, each religious group felt magnanimous since the people in the other three religions were going to burn in Hell for all eternity anyway, so there was little point in extending the torment to their pre-death lives. It wasn't like they were Jews or Hindus or something.

Humor aside (and yes, that was intended as humor), the Scottish seem an incredibly temperate and tolerant people. The English classics were things like THE MERCHANT OF VENICE which, let us face it, does about as much for brotherly love as a burning cross. Scottish national classics include books like IVANHOE which was a long way ahead of its time in its message of tolerance.

If you don't believe in Scottish tolerance, you need only take a good look at Edinburgh itself. It is hard to imagine a city of more architectural styles that all live together peacefully. You have, in one little city, classical Greek, classical Roman, German village, Gothic, English village, Spanish castle, modern, and who knows how many other styles. The only place that has more different architectural styles in closer proximity is the Epcot Center.

Well, we also saw Anchor Close. It should be explained what a close is. There are three kinds of alleys in Scotland. When they build a new alley they take a man in average health about 60 years old and have him walk to the end of the alley. If they can walk there and back without problem it is an 'okay alley' or just an 'alley' pure and simple. If he dies of heart failure it is a 'death' alley and will be condemned eventually. If the man is not killed by the walk but it is close then the alley is called a 'close.' Off of the Royal Mile every block or so there is a close.

Anchor Close is famous because the ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA was first published there. The symbol for the BRITANNICA includes the thistle that is the city's symbol (if I remember correctly). Of course, these days the BRITANNICA is published in Chicago. Now one of those things that I tend to take for granted is that the national encyclopedia of Britain would be published in...well...Britain. Sorry. It just sounds better to call it the ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA than the ENCYCLOPEDIA CHICAGICA.

Then we went to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This is the Scottish palace where the Queen stays when she is in Edinburgh. I am not sure where, since it is mostly open to the public and would afford a certain measure of inconvenience. The current palace was built for Charles II, who never actually saw it, to the great relief of Sir William Bruce (who built it).

As you enter it you pass tapestries with mythological subjects like satyrs. From there you see:

the royal dining room which has never seen a toaster waffle
the throne room with a painting of Victoria's coronation. It is legal proof that Victoria was at one point young.
the evening drawing room with its portrait of the Queen Mother fully clothed
the morning drawing room where the Queen and her Privy Counsel get together for yucks
around the corner is an audience chamber whose whole point is to prove that royalty is rich even though the country is on the brink of financial ruin. It includes chairs nobody is allowed to sit on like my mother used to have in the living room.
next was a bedchamber that for some reason the King would never sleep in. I think it was too fancy. He slept on a couch in one of the other rooms, I guess. With his money I'm sure he could afford one that folded out. The chamber is decorated with pictures of Hercules. He was popular with nobility, it seems.
the picture gallery (now this is serious) which was commissioned by Charles II and all the paintings, which were painted in two years. They are pictures of the kings of Scotland, all with Charles's large nose, whether the kings had large noses or not. It is part of Charles trying to establish his ancestry back to--are you ready for this?--Moses. Yeah, Moses as in Charleton Heston. This was the sort of twelveupmanship the monarchs of Europe played. The older paintings were painted darker to artificially look aged. Some seem a bit rushed and seem more like caricatures.
climb the stairs and you get to Mary Queen of Scots's bedroom. It was there her husband, Lord Darnley, had a bunch of conspirators break in on Mary and her secretary David Rizzio. They killed Rizzio with 56 stab wounds, all in the hopes that the 6-months-pregnant Mary would miscarry and Darnley would be closer to the throne than he would be if his own son was born. Also I think he thought it would be a funny practical joke of the 'Boy, you should have seen your face...' variety. Not only did she not miscarry but it cured a stubborn case of hiccoughs.
on the way out you see at some distance from the Palace Queen Mary's Bathhouse, a separate bathhouse connected by an underground passage to the Palace. There Mary would take baths in white wine.
Well, did I ever tell you these folks were normal? After the tour we returned (or rather, were returned) to

Princes Street. We made some plans for the evening, namely we picked out a walking tour for the evening. There were a number advertised at the Tourist Information Centre. We picked one called 'Ghosts and Ghouls of Edinburgh' that met at 8 PM at the Mercat Cross, just outside St. Giles. Then we walked back to the Royal Mile. This day we did mostly wandering and reading about places in a guidebook we'd gotten back in New York called EDINBURGH: A TRAVELER'S COMPANION. It is a much more literary guidebook than most, consisting mostly of what people have said through history about the various sites. I don't really remember the order in which we hit the various sites but I think first we went to Lady Stair's Museum, which was hidden away in a close. It is a museum to Scott, Burns, and Stevenson. It has paintings of them and relics of their lives. Interesting but about what you would expect.

We walked the Royal Mile a little way, then left it to see Greyfriar's Kirk where Bobby's grave is the most prominent feature. We sat there in the kirkyard for a while writing our logs and reading the Edinburgh guide. From there we headed to Grassmarket where the public executions took place. This was the site in 1736 where a Captain Porteous was supposed to keep the order during an execution. He arrived drunk and in a foul mood. When some of the local boys threw stones at the executioner, as they usually did anyway, he ordered his troops to fire on the crowd. They were less than happy about the order and some aimed high, but even some of those killed people. Porteous was tried and given a death sentence for the incident, but then was given a reprieve. The populace rioted at the news of the reprieve and went after Porteous. Scott describes the lynching in THE HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN. The title THE HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN, incidentally, is remembered in a brick heart on the ground near St. Giles.

We then walked up the twisted crooked street of West Bend. Around 1670 this street was the home of Major Weir, a tall, dark, likable man with a tall walking stick. He would always take the walking stick when he made his rounds to local merchants. And when he didn't feel like going out, the stick would make the rounds for him. One day he fell sick and in his sickness admitted to foul crimes including, apparently, wizardry. The full extent of his confession is apparently unknown. Why nobody suspected he was a wizard before is unclear, but both he and his magical walking stick were burned at the same public execution.

After that we returned to the Royal Mile for more walking, but the only place we went in was the Museum of Childhood, a museum of toys from the last century. They ran a documentary of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and their various super-marionation television shows. That was interesting but the documentary also claimed SPACE: 1999 was a big hit in the United States. Au contraire, although it went for two seasons, which counts for something, I guess.

Dinner was at an Indian restaurant so I could get my vegetarian day this week out of the way. I eat vegetarian at least one day every week for ethical reasons. Indian restaurants are particularly good for eating vegetarian. Most Chinese and Japanese restaurants have very poor selections of vegetarian dinners. And the vegetarian dishes are not as enjoyable. I like Indian food, but the meat dishes are not much better than the vegetable dishes. I am generally fond of vegetarian thalis. That basically is just 'vegetarian platter,' so they vary from one restaurant to the next, but usually they are enjoyable. We finished about 7 PM and our tour was about 8 PM, so we wrote until the tour started. Basically it consisted of a guide telling traditional ghost and murder stories while walking people around to where the stories took place.

The first story was a graphic description of a flogging and torture that took place at the Mercat Cross. It described in graphic detail how one of the floggees had his tongue removed, the other his ear removed. And the reason for all this was that one of the men had toasted to King Charles's health while most of Scotland supported Cromwell.

The second story told how Richard Lawson heard a midnight announcement by the Devil of all the people he would call to hell after James II invaded England. Lawson sat listening until his own name was read, then he threw some silver coins bearing crosses at the image of the Devil. Lawson spread the story until James forced him on pain of death to say he had imagined it all. Of the names listed by Lawson, only Lawson himself did not die in the invasion.

The next story was of mass murderer Barton who showed no sign of fear when brought to trial. When he was to be executed each executioner died while Barton remained alive. Under torture Barton revealed that he'd sold his soul to the Devil and part of the deal was that no man could kill him until he was 70. The King asked for volunteers to execute Barton, to no effect. Finally an executioner volunteered and succeeded in executing Barton--the executioner was the wife of the first of the first executioner.

There were descriptions of witch dunkings and wife dunkings in the local body of water that served as a sewer.

The Lady Stair whose museum we'd seen earlier was also the subject of one of the stories. She was from a wealthy family who did not want her to marry a poor man. She finally did marry the son of the richest man in Edinburgh only to find out he'd married her for her money since he could not inherit anything until his father died. He drank and womanized and eventually tried to murder Lady Stair. He failed and his family secretly sent him abroad and told him never to return. After seven years he'd be declared dead. But after three years Lady Stair asked a fortune teller what had become of him. In the fortune teller's mirror she saw her brother fighting a duel with her husband. It turned out to be true. Her brother was in Holland and was invited to a wedding of another Scotsman--some Dutch friends had been invited and they asked him along. The brother saw who the groom was and when asked if anyone could see cause why the marriage should not continue, he spoke up and said the groom was already married. The groom drew his sword on the other Scotsman and the two were separated.

Now Lady Stair had only to wait out the remainder of the seven years to be legally a widow but the husband's family said she would have to wait until seven years after the duel to be included in her father-in-law's will. Well before time was up she had another suitor. She resisted him so he visited her one evening and said he'd let himself out. Rather than leaving, he hid in the basement. The next morning as people were going to work he paraded naked in front of a window. Soon tongues began to wag and to save her good name she married the suitor and gave up the right to be heir to her first father-in-law's fortune.

(Correction here: Our guide called her Lady Stair, but she only got that name by her second marriage. She was actually Lady Eleanor Campbell.)

The next story dealt with a George Lockhart, who murdered a judge he felt awarded too much alimony to his ex-wife. No punch ending--his hand was cut off and a handless ghost was seen haunting the site of the murder.

Another story was of a murder of a Constable McMoran, who was trying to stop a student strike.
A sort of semi-hero whom I'd read about before was Deacon Brodie. There is a pub and a close named for him. By day he was one of the most respected men in town. Brodie was a locksmith and a deacon of the church. As deacon he met many rich people and was able to make wax impressions of their keys. Months later he'd sneak into their houses and rob them. He could travel across town just going from roof to roof. A trap was laid for the mysterious thief by spreading the word that there were jewels in the excise office. Brodie sprang the trap and still escaped but not without being seen. He fled to Holland where he was apprehended and eventually hanged on a scaffold built by his own company. The pious citizen by day who was a criminal by night inspired Stevenson to write DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. It occurred to me that in the film (and I think the novel by Muriel Spark) THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE, Jean Brodie talks about how one of her forebears was a criminal for the adventure, not that he needed the money, and was hanged on a gibbet of his own devising. This is probably a reference to the real Deacon.

A final visit to Cannongate Kirk to see where victims of plague were buried in mass graves. Those who had paid 4 pounds for the tour rather than 3 got to go to Cannongate Tollbooth Pub for a drink and more stories.

One I'd read about before. It seems on the day of the signing of the Act of Union with England, the Duke of Queensbury (who'd arranged the signing) had his whole household go with him to the Parliament House. The only people left in the house were a small boy who turned the pig on the spit for the banquet later and the Duke's retarded son.

When the Duke returned he found his son had killed the pig-spit boy, put him on the spit, and was in the process of eating the cooked boy.

Another story concerned a suitor who discovered his intended claimed to not own the house she lived in but would not say how she came by the house. The suitor came in drunk one day and, discovering some locked rooms, broke into them to find that a meal had been served there, dirty dishes still abounded. There were two corpses in the room also, as well as a ghost moving about.

Soon after a man came visiting and claimed to know the suitor had found the rooms. His intended saw the visitor and fainted. The suitor took her away and she told him that the visitor was the real owner of the house. Years before he'd found his wife cheating on him and killed wife and lover, then locked up the room and left the house to the maid, never to return, until that night. His return had released her from her vow of secrecy. Returning to find the former master of the house, he'd disappeared.

There was also some discussion of weird happenings in the pub where we were meeting.

All in all it was fun evening.

The next day was spent mostly fooling around. I think it was largely wasted. We walked the Royal Mile, getting pictures of Queen Mary's bathhouse and the Deacon Brodie Inn. We saw Deacon Brodie Close. Then we spent an hour looking at the Royal Scottish Museum. We returned to the Tourist Centre to make reservations for our night in Perth and got a drink of tea/soda at the train station. We climbed the Scott Monument. Evelyn went all the way to the top. I, however, have a fear of heights that was sort of goosed up by hanging off of a mountain in Massachusetts. I stopped one landing short of the top and took pictures while Evelyn went to the top.

Following that we went to two museums housed in one building, the National Portrait and the National Museum of Antiquities. This was a marginally better choice than the Royal Scottish Museum because the latter had little to do with Scotland. It was basically a standard natural history museum. The other two museums were more specific to Scotland, but the Portrait Gallery was only minorly interesting. From there it was back to Princes Street to pick up a fiction book and a 'non-fiction' book of Scottish ghost stories. (This was part of the deal I made with Evelyn. I wanted to go on another macabre walking tour; she was tired. I agreed if I could get my ghost stories, I didn't need them live.)

I also got my Scotland souvenir. It was six swaths of tartan cloth. They are actually sold as coasters for glasses. At Marks and Spencer we bought some sweet biscuits and some potato crisps. Then to the base of the Scott Monument for log writing for about an hour or so. The search for a good place to eat dinner led to the usual problem. There are no Scottish restaurants. We've seen Italian, French, Indian, Chinese, pizza, burger--lots of different kinds of restaurants. Nobody ever claims to have Scottish food. I can't swear to know what I am looking for, but I am reasonably sure that pizza is not Scottish. I am waiting to find a restaurant that serves lamb with oats and barley, I guess. We finally settled on a Stakis Steak House, apparently one of a chain. I had Scotch broth with barley and rib-eye steak with baked potato. The steak was not so much steak as the platonic form of the perfect steak. The steak was large and very nicely broiled. And juicy. And tender. And reasonably priced. Nice baked potato, too. Given the opportunity, I will find other Stakis Steak Houses.

Then back to the room for writing, packing, and reading. And then another day was gone.

September 4: That brings me to this morning. We had our last breakfast in Edinburgh. For the first time we saw two other couples at breakfast. The television was on and was talking about the Hungerford Massacre and what was the BBC going to do about it? After all, the killer was dead. You can't punish him anymore. Someone has got to take the blame. Without a shred of evidence, the BBC is guilty of egging the killer into murdering people. All those violent programs. I suggest the following laboratory experiment. Let the rest of Britain watch television for a year. If there are no more massacres, stop blaming the the poor BBC. Nobody knows what all contributes to the massacre mentality and people who claim that censorship will cure it are succumbing to the witch-hunt mentality.

Well, we got a cab to Budget-Rent-a-Car and discovered that even though we'd reserved and confirmed, they didn't have a car for us. They told us, however, that they had one at the airport. They drove us to the airport and we got a Ford Orion. I am actually fairly impressed with it as a car. Presumably Ford is starting to get its act together. The dashboard is designed like a Japanese car--lots of electronics and a very convenient design. Lots of pockets. The sunroof is a clever design. Crank it one way and it elevates the rear; crank it the other way and it pulls back like the door windows. The car has a good radio with a scanner. The bugle symbol on the horn makes me think that it probably is of Japanese design. Evelyn, being the better driver, is doing the driving first. I want to start in a less populated area. It is a little hard to flip around your thinking for driving on the left side of the road.

We had a beautiful clear day and the scenery was spectacular. Much of it is old villages by the sea. We stopped a couple of time to stretch our legs and to take pictures. You see a lot of sheep and cattle grazing in the broad green fields. To them life must seem pretty good. Of course, they probably don't realize that a nasty surprise is coming to them. That steak I enjoyed so much the night before had probably been enjoying the sun as recently as when we left for England. The farmer or shepherd that takes such good care of them actually doesn't have their best interests in mind.

Our route took us through St. Andrews. You pass by a ruined cathedral. It was started around 1144 and completed in 1318. However, John Knox, who was instrumental in turning the country to Presbyterianism (mostly from St. Giles), gave several discourses against it and cathedrals in general in 1559. It was in large part demolished and its stones taken to be used for secular purposes. This demolition continued into the 1800's. I suppose it is sad, but in its stripped state it is far more dramatic than it must have been even before Knox's attacks. We walked around it in the warm sunlight under the blue sky, taking pictures and reading old gravestones. There are also the ruins of a castle nearby. The castle was built first in 1200 or so and rebuilt two centuries later.

In the 1500s it was besieged by Catholic troops of Scotland and France, after it was used as the stronghold of the murderers of Cardinal Beaton.

Most of the day was spent driving. We did stop at three ancient sites and saw three souterrains. They dated to about 1000 AD and were sort of dug-out houses. They looked very much like World War I trenches except that the sides were shored up by rocks. At deepest they were only waist- or at most shoulder-deep.

The first souterrain was behind somebody's barnyard. Apparently the Department of Environment sells all but a small radius around the site to a farmer, but the farmer must keep access to the site open to the public. The Tealing Souterrain is just a sort of crescent. Like the other two we saw, it is currently roofless. It is perhaps less spectacular than Stonehenge, but it is certainly less commercialized. It may get visited maybe once a week (as a wild guess). The Carlungie and Ardestie Souterrains are about a mile apart. The Carlungie takes you right through a field where oats are grown. There is a path about a foot wide giving access to a narrow pull-off on the road. Both of these souterrains are somewhat more complex---roughly the complexity of a Japanese ideogram. These souterrains were each used by Picts in the First to Third century AD. Usually these souterrains would have stone roofs and would be lit by torches. In this climate they could probably get pretty cold.

By the time we finished with the souterrains there was not a lot of time to see Glamis Castle. It might have been one of the better castles. But we will be seeing several castles in the days to come.

Instead, we continued on to Perth, where we had reservations for the night. Evelyn drove and I re-wrote and expanded my PHANTOM OF THE OPERA review. Much of the day we listened to it on the car's cassette player.

We found the Tourist Centre in Perth and made reservations for Inverness. A restaurant had a good-looking menu there so we found it in town. We walked around to see if there was something better. There wasn't. So we went to the Grill. Unfortunately, we had to order off their high tea menu because we got there before 6:30 PM. Neither of us particularly liked what we got.

We found our B&B, the Jacaranda, and were in for the night. We both wrote most of the evening. At some time the husband of the woman who ran the B&B came home--apparently angry about something. Well, none of our business.

September 5: We woke up about 7 this morning and had breakfast about 8 AM. This gave us some chance to talk to the woman who ran the B&B. She'd seen jacaranda trees in Africa and Australia and liked the color, so that was the name she gave the hotel.
A little after 9 AM we headed for Scone Palace. We got there about 9:20. had to wait about ten minutes until it opened, then went in. For several hundred years, up through the crowning of James VI in the late 16th Century, kings of Scotland were crowned at Scone and for more than 500 years it was the seat of the Stone of Scone. At the Stone and only at this Stone may a king of Scotland be crowned. In 1296 Edward I moved the Stone to Westminster Abbey as a move to control the Scots. Legend had it that this was the Jacob's Pillow of the Bible. Where the Stone really came from nobody is sure but it may have been holy to the Picts or the Belgic Kings. In any case, the mere fact that the Stone was at Scone (and may still be) hasn't done too much for the fortunes of the residents of Scone Palace. The Earls of Mansfield, who have fallen on hard times, moved to the second floor and let tourists see the first floor for a fee. (Oh, why do I say the Stone may still be at Scone? One of the legends say that Edward I got a counterfeit. The real Stone may be hidden somewhere at Scone. I happen to think the real Stone is hidden inside the Maltese Falcon, but that's another story.) In any case, the Earls of Mansfield love in a modest castle near Perth. The Earl is William David Mungo James who is considered the 8th and 7th Earl of Mansfield. Why both? Well, his father, Mungo David Malcolm, was the 7th and 6th Earl of Mansfield. I am not sure I have figured out the double numbering, but I figure that somewhere in the family tree something dirty happened that people would rather not talk about.

I have lost a lot of respect for myself this trip. Well, some anyway. I though I was interested in seeing castles. Well, I've discovered that a lot of seeing castles is looking at dishes trimmed in gold with pretty artwork, or chairs that are oh-so-nicely upholstered, or how ornate a ceiling is. This aspect of castlewatching is just not for me. What I want to see in castles are guns and swords and dungeons. I like artwork with mythological beasts. I'd rather look at the kitchen than the beautifully appointed drawing room. I don't want to see how people lived in luxury; I want to see how they dreamed and killed. I am hardly going to be impressed by all the gold people surrounded themselves with if they didn't even have indoor plumbing. My house in New Jersey is more luxurious than most castles I've seen.

The lands of Scone Palace originally belonged to the Earl of Gowrie. David Murray, a forebear of the present Earl of Mansfield, was just passing by the lands when he heard King James VI shouting from the tower. It would seem someone in the Gowrie family was trying to kill him. David ran into the fray, sword drawn, and suddenly the lands were his, a gift from a grateful King.

From there we went to the Moot Hill Chapel over by the former resting place of the Stone of Scone. There we read how the king of the Picts, King Droston, together with his nobles, was invited to a banquet by Kenneth MacAlpine, a Scot. They all got drunk and when the Picts were good and drunk, MacAlpine pulled the bolts out of the benches and they turned into traps that held the Picts until they could be slaughtered. Beware of Scots bearing drink.

The weather was rainy and ugly, so after a quick look at the castle graveyard, we set out for world-famous Pitlochry and Queen's View, a lovely view of mountains and river. Only it wasn't a beautiful view--it was darn dismal in the rain. So we continued to Blair Castle.

Now this is what people think of when they think of Scottish castles. The walls are decorated with thousands of guns, hundreds of elk skulls, hundreds of knives, swords, pikes, etc., etc. Not that I approve of sport hunting, which someone here was obviously into, but at least guns are more interesting than upholstery. This castle is full of old musical instruments, pictures of famous people, miniatures of buildings, costumes, and more guns. It tells you more about an age and less about one family's rich lifestyle. It has tea services, but it also has suits of armor. It also is the home of Europe's only remaining private army, the Atholl Highlanders, though what anyone needs with a private army is beyond army.

When we finished with Blair, the sun had come out and Evelyn suggested we give Queen's View another try now that you don't have to stand in two inches of water to see a water-logged vista. This time it was an impressive sight. We took a few pictures and then headed to Drumnadrochit, where our evening's lodgings were. Drumnadrochit is a bedroom suburb of Inverness, with a bustling population of nearly 400 people and nearly three restaurants.

We were interested in staying in or near Inverness and we ended up in Drumnadrochit, which turns out to be the Loch Ness capital of the world. Which is to say that this is the pretty end of the Loch and the touristy stuff connected with the Loch is around here. Evelyn is more interested in the Loch Ness Monster than I am. I know it is all a plot to drum up tourism. I'd like to believe in real monsters but I really don't. But the museum of Loch Ness is convenient so we will probably go. We are on a one-car-wide street here. We checked in, worked on our logs for a while, found a place to eat it Inverness (I had haddock and chips), then it was back to the room to write. It is now 10:11 PM on September 5, 1987, and for the first time in quite a while I am caught up in this log.

September 6 (7:32 AM): Ah, friends, what can I tell you? It is part of the human condition to discover that that which looks good is often bad, that which looks bad is often good. One cannot trust appearances. Yet if appearances cannot be trusted, what can be? This appeared to be a very modern bed and breakfast with all modern conveniences. It could have been built in the last five years. Well, I woke up a little cold. As you may know, in Europe buildings are kept a bit cooler than in the United States and the economical Scots keep their houses doubly so. But right outside our room there is a bathroom with a shower. A nice warm shower was all I needed. A warm shower is a luxury in much of Britain. Most places have bathtubs. In fact, I have yet to see a sink that has one faucet rather than one for hot and one for cold. I am told that the British say that mixers on faucets have not been perfected yet. Presumably when science figures how to put a single faucet on a sink and mix the water so we don't have hot parts and cold parts of the stream (which endanger the user by scalding him when he touches the wrong part of the stream), then the Britons will jump en masse on the one-faucet bandwagon. (We now have super-conductors you can stir your tea with, but the single faucet sink remains an unattainable goal and a puzzle to science.)

So here I am, anxiously awaiting my warm shower. The water is regulated by a Triton T-80, a fancy-looking electrical device that has one electrical dial for temperature of water, a second for amount of flow. Funny, I didn't think that electrical equipment and water mixed really well, but there it was staring me in the face. The chill was added to by the fact that I was dressed for the shower. I won't go into that in detail, but I think the reader gets the point. I reach out and turn the dial for water. It clicks into place. I wait shivering for the warm water expectantly. And wait. Not a sound. I turn the switch again. Silence. The power light remains out. I start frantically looking all over the Triton T-80 to find some sign that I have done something wrong that I can yet do right. My hands shivering from the cold, I look and feel over the sleek body of the Triton T-80 in the hopes of finding a hidden switch. Nothing. Inside I know it's all over, but I go through the motions of twiddling the only two knobs that the Triton T-80 afforded me. Nothing and soon even the hands gave up hope. Shivering, I went over to the sink and started to brush my teeth.

(12:22 PM): There were two other couples staying at the bed and breakfast. They are sort of following our path but backwards. I was a little shy at first, but eventually we talked with them. They were from Surrey. We were going the same place they were first thing--Culloden Battlefield.

April 16, 1746, the last battle was fought on British soil (I'm not sure how much consideration was given to the Battle of Britain which was certainly fought above British soil). At Culloden, Bonnie Prince Charlie fought government troops in the employ of King George II, a hated enemy. There is a sub-text in what we see in that Charlie was not all that Bonnie and that the enemy was not all that hateful. If you read between the lines at the presentations, you discover that Prince Charlie was not really all that Bonnie and the government he was rebelling against waited 50 years for tempers to die down and to have some trouble with some colonists in the New World, and then started building up Scotland's industries. Even at the time of the battle, there was a sizable Scottish faction that sided with the government. Today, in fact, the Jacobite Rebellion is framed more as a civil war between anti- and pro-government forces.

What happened was James VIII had what would have seemed like the rightful claim to the crown of Britain, and he was a Stuart and hence Scottish. He was a Highlander and had the background to preserve the Highlander way of life. Parliament passed him over and put in George I. Among other reasons there was that George was the 'right' religion. The Stuarts were Catholic. James's son Charles led a second rebellion--there had been one previously--to put his father on the throne, and incidentally make himself heir to the throne. He got some fierce Highlander warriors together and some Jacobites along the way (a Jacobite supported Jacobus, James's name in Latin). Charlie fought his way south from the Highlands from July to December of 1745. He had stunning victories and in December he was 127 miles from London in Derby. King George started to make plans to flee the country. Charlie had problems of his own. He'd expected more Jacobites to join him as he went along. He got fewer and his own men wanted to return home to plant the next year's crops. Without a defeat to his name, Charlie and his troops were demoralized, and on a date called Black Friday his troops set off for their homes. George II's son, the Duke of Cumberland, gave pursuit. The two armies met at the field of Culloden and the rest is history. But so was the preceding stuff, so I might as well continue.

The Duke had 8000 troops and better guns, but his army was hired. Bonnie Prince Charlie was in his own land fighting for what he believed in. He had 5000 brave Scotsmen. Forty minutes later 1000 Scots were dead and only 400 government troops. Charlie had to think fast if he were to save the day. He couldn't think that fast so he fled.

After adventures of hiding and being smuggled from one group of supporters to another, he was smuggled (some say reluctantly) to the Isle of Skye by Flora MacDonald, who disguised him as her maid. According to one source, he never even wrote her after she risked her life for him. Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped from there to France where he did little notable but drink the rest of his life. Supposedly the Highlander lifestyle died out as a result. The Duke's men raided Scotland, killing about 3000 more people. Kilts and bagpipes were outlawed. Jacobite supporters were executed. A modest reparations bill was exacted. Then the government went in and built schools and established land reform. After another forty years the Jacobite cause was dead, confiscated lands were returned, and kilts and bagpipes were once again legal. Scotland pretty much felt that the British government might not be so bad for Scotland even if the King wasn't a Stuart.

We went to the battlefield and saw displays and a short film. Then we walked through the battlefield. It is a pleasant enough walk, but not very enlightening. You just see stones where the various clans began the battle.

From there we went to the nearby Clava Cains. A cairn seems to be much like a souterrain but entirely above ground. It is a house made of piled stone. These cairns seem to be each surrounded by 12 stone monoliths. They are each about 100 feet in diameter. These are impressive sights that date back to the 2nd or 3rd Millennium BC. While we were there we saw another couple and I offered to let them read my copy of GUIDE TO ANCIENT SITES IN BRITAIN. As it turned out, they had the book and had already visited most of the sites. Though they were from Seattle, they'd been several times to Britain.

Next stop was Cawdor Castle. Most of these castles have long, dull prose descriptions of the contents of each room. Cawdor Castle is unique so far in that the room descriptions are full of wisecracks. If there was a low passageway, they'd say something like, 'Please watch your head unless you are a Papuan pygmy.' Nothing hilarious but usually unexpected.

Legend has it that the Thane of Cawdor was given permission to build a fortified castle. His local black magician told him to put his treasure on an ass and where the ass sat down to rest, build his castle. The ass sat in the shade of a hawthorn and there the castle was built. (I'll bet you thought this was a joke.) We saw the Seattle couple at the castle.

Well, next we wanted to go to Craig Phadrig Vitrified Fort, a site from our ancient sites book. Nobody knows how these forts got vitrified, but apparently stone forts somehow had their stones melted and fused.

Unfortunately, the roads had been very much changed since our books was written. The ancient sites book gives directions on how to find the sites and they are usually pretty good. This time they were completely inaccurate. It took us a long time to find the site and then it was strenuous climb to find the fort. And what did we find when we got up there? The hill it had on had a flat top and a dent in the center. That's all. And for once the picture in the book had no resemblance at all to the actual site. I suspect that the authors couldn't find the fort and didn't want to admit it. Besides a nice view of the valley around it, there wasn't much to see. We'd spent about two hours on it and it looked like a dent in the ground.
Evelyn was near tears but I was there to lend a strong hand and keep her spirits up. (Of course, that's not the way she remembers it.)

Well, it was getting late and we had one more site Evelyn wanted to see. There is a Loch Ness Monster Museum. I gave up my belief in Nessie a long time ago, I'm afraid. And I certainly don't think a tourist museum is much of a place to get a fair presentation of the facts, though I will say that the museum was even-handed. It did not assume the thing existed and give a one-sided argument. The museum is very small and hardly worth the 1.65-pound admission.

We had dinner in a bar near the museum. It was mediocre. Then a stop to get pens so I could continue this log and we returned to the B&B. There is a Japanese couple and a German couple on our floor tonight.

September 7 (8:02 AM): Evelyn figured out why the shower wouldn't work for me yesterday. There is an electrical switch in the hallway that turns on the Triton T-80. Now, silly me, when a shower doesn't work, I just don't think to ask myself, 'Did I forget to flip a switch somewhere?' Well, I was able to play Phantom of the Opera for one of the other guests this morning. I heard them clicking the dials of the Triton T-80 in a vain attempt to get water out of it, much like I did yesterday. I made myself presentable enough to be seen in the hall. By this point the poor person had given up, and I flipped the switch in the hall. The water turned on in the bathroom, probably to the surprise of whoever it was in the bathroom.

The weather today seems much like yesterday: bright sunshine, cloudiness, rain, and bright sunshine again in relatively short succession. Yesterday it rained twice, both at times we were outside looking at ancient sites.

We are now through sixteen of our twenty-two days in Britain (Saturday to Saturday; I don't count the final Sunday because we won't be doing much but traveling). That's about 73%, or about 85% subjectively. At the beginning of a trip, time moves more slowly than at the end. Time seems to pick up speed the later you are in a trip at a rate, I guess, proportional to the amount of the trip that has passed. I figure that is because you have more to compare it to. In any case, the math says you take the proportion of the way through the trip and take its square root. I'd draw the graph to show this but I have been warned not to write anything in my log that cannot be typed in. :-)

An integral part of British breakfast seems to be toast and lingering thereover. Anything else can be left out of breakfast and they will somehow muddle through. If there's no toast, it's not breakfast. A group yesterday at breakfast, the group from Surrey, were talking about how some place didn't serve toast until the end and how inconvenient that was.

Well, we are here at Urquhart Castle. I can't hear the name without thinking of Robert Urquhart, whose claim to fame was that he played Paul Kremper in CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. The Castle is right down on the Loch. I can remember seeing it when driving across the other side of the Loch. Apparently Edward I besieged a castle here, destroyed it, and built another one.

(11:16 AM): Correction: this is not the castle I saw from the other side of the Loch. This one was blown apart in the first Jacobite Rebellion. It stands in ruins and being in ruins, like St. Andrews Cathedral, it is more interesting than had it been left intact. There still is a high tower well worth climbing that yields an impressive view of Loch Ness.

I took a lot of pictures with Evelyn for scale. (She really needs a better shampoo.) She will show up in a lot more of the trip pictures than I will, for which the people who see the photo albums will no doubt be grateful.

On top of the rocky vitrified fort of fused rock, the Castle just reeks medieval. From there we went to change some money in Drumnadrochit. The radio had an interview with someone who'd just written a book called TALKING FILMS. One of the more interesting things he said was that John Gilbert was to marry Greta Garbo. She did not show up at the wedding. Louis B. Meyer asked Gilbert why did he have to marry Garbo if he'd already slept with her. Gilbert got upset and knocked Meyer down. This was a major faux pas. You didn't do things like that to a studio executive. Gilbert was already highly paid and Meyer wanted an excuse to be rid of him. Sound was just coming in and Meyer instructed the sound department to make Gilbert's voice sound higher on the soundtrack. Audiences quickly decided Gilbert was not their cup of tea in sound films.

We listened to this on the way to Corrimony Cairn. This again looks like a pile of stones with a circle of monoliths around it. The book says there are only eleven monoliths, but in fact there are the usual twelve, though one is broken so it is not as big as the others. Seen from the top, the cairn is an anulus with a circle at the center maybe ten feet in diameter and an outer diameter of forty to fifty feet. The stones are piled maybe eight to ten feet high at the highest. There is a path to the center in most cairns. In this case it is covered for a distance. The tunnel is about two feet high, so the cairn must be entered on hands and knees.

As you may have gathered, the ancient sites of Scotland are not at all commercialized. There are no stands selling guidebooks, souvenirs, or drippy ice cream cones. There is no Corrimony Restaurant offering pleasant views of the cairn to be enjoyed with greasy hamburgers and watery Cokes in sweaty paper cups. You can't even buy postcards with faded color pictures of the cairn. It makes you wonder if these Highlanders will ever be civilized.

From there it was back to the center of Inverness for the last time. We got our reservations for Ullapool. We had to come back in a half hour to find out where we'd be staying. We popped over to a grocery. We got some cookies and I got some Idris Ginger Beer. I guess at 1 proof this is the most alcoholic beverage I really enjoy. I needed more film so we walked around Inverness. There's a Marks and Spencer. It is much like our department stores with a grocery section. Of course, they also have the usual departments like cosmetics. Just like in the United States, they are decorated with pictures of good-looking women wearing gawd-awful makeup, which is just the opposite message as they are trying to send.

Well, we got our reservation and headed for Ullapool with a diversion to the vitrified fort at Knockfarrel.

I am not sure I would know what I am seeing isn't natural. Except for a large piece of rock in the ground, it doesn't appear to be special. In fact, nobody is really sure how this rock was melted and fused. It is thought that wooden pilings and ramparts of the fort, during an attack, was set on fire and burned so fiercely that the very rock walls melted. The ferocity of the attack must have been truly impressive. The ancient sites author suggests that instead it might have been an intentional process of the fort builders.

This fort required a good deal of back-road driving. The instructions in the book on how to find the place were ambiguous. Also the road numbers have changed since the book was written. We did finally find the fort. From where we parked, it was about a quarter-mile walk, but steep, to the top of the hill. Again, it looked flat on top with a dent. In addition, it was clear a lot of sheep had been at the top recently. A whole lot! Walking where sheep hadn't been was a real problem, but walking where they had been was worse.

After about a half-hour we returned to the car and continued on to Ullapool and our B&B.

I think that more about sheep might be in order to tell. As we have gotten to the west coast they seem to be just about everywhere beside and in the road. I guess a sheep is a pretty good investment. You put them in a field and they pretty much feed themselves. Your main concern is getting them back at the end of the day. Sheep don't return home when it rains--it is unclear that their 2-1/2-watt brains even know the difference when it starts to rain--so I doubt that they return when it gets dark and mealtime is all day long, so they don't return for meals. I think the sheep are marked in some way so that their owners know them. Most seem to have a big red spray-paint mark on their backs, which must be for identification. Unless maybe it is so the lamb's wool won't be stolen.

One difference one notes in sheep here: in the United States we tend to dock sheep's tails. It was explained to me that they are in a very poor place and tend to get filthy and smelly. So farmers tie rubber bands around the tails and they die and fall off. Sheep naturally have wide, fat tails that go from halfway to 3/4-way to the ground. Here all the sheep have tails. It looks a little strange at first.

The sheep seem all over the place blocking the roads. Occasionally you see cows doing the same. We saw one truck that had been surrounded by six or eight bulls trotting down the road. Luckily they were going in the opposite direction. You ever see a full-size bull drooling and watching your car out of the corner of his eye as he trots past? Let me tell you, it is some sight.

Actually the animal that blocks the road most is woman/man. (I guess that's the non-sexist way of saying it.) The roads are narrow. The good roads have a wide lane going in each direction. That's like superhighway over here. Then there are narrow two-lane and one-lane roads. The one-lane roads have occasional widenings called 'passing places.' You find yourself facing another car head-on and one of you backs up to a passing place. It's not fun.

But with even the two-lane roads there are problems in that people work on the roads. That blocks off a lane so that the highway becomes one-lane with no passing places. How is this handled? They put a traffic light at each end of the one-lane stretch. There are portable traffic lights for this purpose. Each way has a red light most of the time. If you get a green light, the other side will have red long enough so that cars in your direction can all get through. It takes quite a bit of time and I'd guess that if your car breaks down on the one-lane stretch, you have serious problems.
One thing that speeds traffic up is the cycle of all traffic lights, not just the portables. They go green, yellow, red, red/yellow. The last tells you when the light is about to turn green so you can be ready to go.

Plaids are a little more common than I first claimed, but still not all that common. You do occasionally see men on the street in kilts, but it is only occasionally. A cartoon in Cawdor Castle showed 'A Tourist's View of Life in the Highlands.' Everyone was in plaid, living in a castle. The children were dancing a fling. There were three or four Scottish terriers. All the men were in kilts. I would have liked to get a picture, but it was covered in glass and would not have come out well.

(I am picking up here a number of small comments that should have come earlier.)

One little thing I found strange. You go through these peaceful idyllic Scottish villages and the ones which have cinemas seem mostly to be showing LETHAL WEAPON.

Evelyn suggested I repeat this comment in the log. Last night we were in Drumnadrochit; tonight we are in Ullapool. My comment was that you have wasted you vacation if you haven't stayed at least one place that people at work won't be able to pronounce. It goes with my longtime comment that you have wasted your vacation if you didn't come back exhausted. I have to collect 'You've wasted your vacation if...' statements; Evelyn is collecting 'I didn't come 5000 miles to...' statements (as in 'I didn't come 5000 miles to eat at a Pizza Hut.').

We tell ourselves that religion is perfectly rational. Then whenever an archaeologist finds something he/she does not understand, that seems useless and irrational, we attribute it to religious ritual. The early Scots apparently had carved balls out of stone. Nobody is sure why, but of course what is assumed? They were used for religious ritual. No logic need apply to it. That says something about what we really think about religion.

September 8 (6:58 AM): Well, we continued on to Ullapool. It took about 45 minutes and three trips to the Tourist Information Centre, but we got our next reservations made. Ullapool is as predominantly white as London was brown. It is really a fishing village that has made tourism one of its industries. The guidebook says it was built to catch and process herring late in the 18th Century. Then the herring and town dried up. After being a ghost town for a while, it revived fishing. It has a lovely view of the water and an interesting view of the fishing boats.

Before dinner we drove to Lochinver, another fishing village. Mostly we went for the scenery which no doubt will not seem all that interesting in the pictures. A lot of the loch pictures will undoubtedly seem very similar. They are too beautiful not to photograph. The weather is dramatic. There are usually mountains nearby with their tops shrouded in clouds. In any hour you will generally have a period of bright sunshine and a period of rain, often both at the same time. A rainbow is rare at home, but here you see two or three a day. Evelyn and I both commented that Scotland looks geologically a lot like Norway. However, as Evelyn adds, no glaciers.

I guess there is more distinction made in roads than I realized. The map distinguishes between a single-lane road where you can usually see the next widening so you can pass oncoming cars, and one where you are more likely to have to back up. That is the kind of road we tried to take from Lochinver back to Ullapool. As someone in my family used to say, 'It was no pitnic.' After about four miles, it was clear we would not be to the B&B by the time we said we would, so we turned around. We still took better than an hour getting to Ullapool.

We dropped off some bags at the B&B so they'd know we were coming, then went for fish and chips. An ad that they had up said, 'Everybody's favourite: British Fish and Chips' and showed three burly sports figures, their eyes gleaming, as they looked at big plates of fish and chips. It struck me as odd since trying to export fish and chips to the United States turned out such a cropper. I guess if you are used to burgers, fish and chips with a good malt vinegar is an acquired taste. Ev claimed you do still get fish and chips in the United States. Any fishery serves fried fish and French fries. I would claim that has some of the ingredients of fish and chips, but that it is a very different dish.

The Fish: It must be a piece eight or nine inches long, batter-dipped, not breaded. It is fried enough to make the batter very crispy, but the fish should still have sufficient texture to break into rounded slices 1/8' to 1/4' thick.
The Fries: not golden brown, but white and dark brown. Just a little surface grease from the frying.
The Salt: Put on the fries.
The Vinegar: A rich, tart malt vinegar. Once the fries are salted, it is sprinkled indiscriminately over both.
If possible, a good ginger beer on the side. Good stuff.
After dinner back to the room for more writing and early bed.

I was up early enough to write a little in my log and to mysteriously lose a pen. It seems to have disappeared totally without trace into the bedclothes. Extensive search did not turn it up.

At breakfast we talked to a vacationing English couple from Manchester. They were somewhat interested in my politics. As an odd note, his politics were very similar to mine. We both believe that the nuclear arms race is probably better than any feasible alternative, an uncommon viewpoint these days.

Today the driving is mostly around craggy cliffs and lochs. We saw someone hastily patching a smashed windshield in a falling-rock zone.

Beside the road was a waterfall at Measach. These are no great tourist attraction, but they are worth a few pictures. Evelyn was at first afraid to cross a ramshackle bridge over the falls that I had no problem with. From this I conclude that Evelyn trusts herself but not the tools she uses. In the Scott Monument, she had little problem climbing up narrow stairs without a handhold but she was afraid to trust a bridge. I was just the other way around; I trust the tools but lack the self-confidence. Oh, well.

What followed was a fair amount of narrow-road driving. We hit some of our heaviest rain while I was driving, but this was one of those days when it poured rain when it wasn't bright and sunny. We saw another World War I memorial. We must have seen a dozen so far and not one World War II as far as I remember.

Midafternoon we arrived at two brochs near Glenelg. A broch is an ancient structure found only in Scotland. What is a broch?

Take a paper cup. Put it upside down on a table. Tear out the bottom. Roll up a piece of paper, put it in the hole of the top of the cup, and let it unroll to a cylinder with the same diameter as the hole in the cup. Now cut off the paper protruding over the cup. You are left with two walls. One is cylindrical (the paper); one is a truncated cone (the cup). A broch is a two-walled structure shaped like the paper model but the walls are made of shaped, piled stones without mortar and with no apparent holes through the stone. These two are about forty feet high, though there are smaller ones. They are big enough that you can fit stairways between the walls. Also, some stones are longer and are part of both walls. One source says that brochs were used as forts and people lived in the center part; another says that people actually lived inside, between the walls. The latter is usually agreed on, but whether cattle or people lived in the center was unclear.

There are shelves on the inside of the innerwall going completely around what is left of the brochs we saw (Dun Telve and Dun Troddan Brochs). At the base the space between the walls is six or eight feet wide and the walls on either side as wide or a little wider. We could walk into a number of chambers in the walls and climb stairs to get to the second floor. Both brochs are in ruins, but what is left stands respectively 33 and 25 feet high (though they would have been a few feet higher originally). They come from about the First Century BC and are the most impressive architectural achievements we have seen from the ancient sites book. They are worth the hour drive each way to see them.

On out way to see the two brochs, we passed by a castle that we had not known we would be passing. I took a quick photo or two and we resolved if there was time we would tour this majestic-looking castle. There was time, so we went back about 4 PM.

In fact, this castle had recently been used for a fantasy film and so we had reason to think it looked familiar. The film, incidentally, is called (appropriately enough) HIGHLANDER.

Eilean Donan Castle had a long and violent past. In 1214 the castle was begun on the vitrified remains of a Pictish fort. In 1263 it was given to the Earl of Desmond and Kildare for his services against Norwegian Vikings at the Battle of Largs. That battle won back the Western Isles from the Vikings.

The Earl's family later became the Clan MacKenzie and their constables at the Castle were the MacRaes. In 1539 Donald Gorm of the McDonalds assembled 400 warriors for a rebellion. Having heard that Eilean Donan was weakly guarded, Gorm determined to take the Castle. With several galleys full of warriors, he headed for the Castle on Loch Duich. Duncan MacRae, an ally of the McKenzies, happened to be passing, saw the attack about to happen, and beat Gorm to the gate. He killed a number of warriors on the first galley, then barred the gate. Gorm's men tried to beat down the gate, but were chased away with thrown rocks. There followed an attack with arrows in each direction. The then-current constable was killed and only Duncan and the watchman were left.
The invaders then took down the masts of their galleys to use as battering rams. Duncan held back his final arrow until he could hot Donald Gorm. When he finally could shoot at Gorm, the arrow was inaccurate and only hit Gorm's foot. Gorm pulled out the barbed arrow, but in doing so cut a main artery. The bleeding refused to stop and Gorm retreated to a reef where both he and his rebellion died.

In 1719 the Jacobites in the Castle allowed Spanish allies to use the Castle as a base. Three English frigates were dispatched to attack the Castle, but their cannonballs could do little against the 14-foot-thick walls. They did manage to set off some Spanish gunpowder inside the Castle and that did the trick. The Castle was totally destroyed.

In 1912 a wealthy MacRae decided to rebuild the Castle and an architect, Farquhar MacRae, claimed to have dreamed what the Castle looked like and wanted to do the work. As odd as it sounds, plans for the old Castle were eventually found and MacRae's dream was totally accurate--at least so the story is told.

September 9 (8:03 AM): The guide for the first room in the Castle (there are only two rooms open to the public, but there is a long lecture in each and a fair amount to see around the outside) was one of the best we've seen on this trip. Sort of a Margaret Rutherford type with a real enthusiasm for history.

After we saw the two rooms inside, we walked around on the outside. This is not one of the bigger castles. It might seem almost tiny compared to something like Blair Castle, but it looks considerably more feudal and that counts for a lot somehow. Apparently parts are still lived in at times, though not very much, according to the guard. Having a castle seems to be the ultimate status symbol in Scotland, and rich families want to live in their ancestral homes. Taxation on castles has made this very difficult, so what oftens happens is that a family like the Mansfields of Scone moves up to the second floor and opens the first floor to the public. I don't know if there are tax advantages in letting the public see a castle, but it is possible to charge an admission and make some income that way. At any rate, many of the castles we have seen double as somebody's home even while open to the public.

Scotland was actually something of a travel find, I think. It is a country with the scenery of Norway and the odd feudal past of Japan. At least in some ways, it is similar. You have the same sort of clan heritage fighting for power, with feudal lords massacring each other. Japan's past has been better publicized in films--'romanticized' might be the better word--but Scotland had much the same sort of past until the Battle of Culloden stamped it out.

After the Castle, we drove a relatively short distance into Kyle of Lochalsh, where we found the Tourist Information Centre and had them make arrangements for our next B&B. They said it was too late to get arrangements back, but if we came in in the morning, they would probably have things all arranged. We asked about restaurants and they suggested a 'whole food' restaurant. 'Whole food' is one of those double-think words that really mean the opposite of what they say. 'Whole food' is what we call 'macrobiotic,' and it is a philosophy that says you can make oatmeal and lentils taste almost as satisfying as meat and it is a whole lot healthier and better on the conscience.

Well, the thing was, I had to eat vegetarian food one day this week anyway. So I figured it might be a good evening for it. The restaurant itself is run by four women in their early to midtwenties. It could well have been their first business out of school. The building was new and rather spare. It might have been intended as a house that just had a large living room. Somehow it was very reminiscent of the type of thing you'd have found in Amherst, Massachusetts, back in the days I was there.

I had lentil soup and curried vegetables on a bed of rice. Evelyn, who had a little more courage than I did, ordered the peanut roast. I think she discovered that courage in a whole food restaurant may be misplaced. Curried vegetables are a pretty safe bet. The peanut roast was a poor imitation of meatloaf. I suppose it could have been worse. It could have been a good imitation of meatloaf.

For dessert I had the lemon sorbet. It is much like I used to make at home. You make double-strength lemonade, freeze it, and then scrape it to get a slush.

If you are British I mean lemon squash. Here lemonade is just lemon-flavored soda. It's like here French fries are called 'chips.' What we call chips they call 'crisps.'

From there we went to our B&B. We had the town name, Balmacara. From there, the address was 'The Farm, The Square.' Well, we found The Square and sure enought, there was a farm. At first, all we could see was a barn in not very good shape. We had to drive into the farmyard to see the house. It looked a little better. It was, however, the least comfortable B&B so far. The room was cold, the bed narrow, the bathroom downstairs, and we were given no towels. It was, however, a perfect setting to read Scottish horror stories before sleep.

Today the drive has been eneventful. The drive has not been scenic because it has been so gray and dismal.

(9:08 AM): Well a day that started rather dismally has had an upswing. Stirling, our town for the night, is a very pleasant town. Our real goal here was to see Stirling Castle.

There is, unfortunately, no short description that could do justice to the history of Stirling Castle, which is long and complex. I doubt if I remember enough or know about enough Scottish history to put it into context. I know James III was born there. James IV probably was also. James V and Mary Queen of Scots had their coronations there.

Mary's initials are written in the battlements: 'MR 1561' at a place called Queen Mary's Lookout.

The Castle has been expanded many times, so that seeing all of it is now extremely difficult and time-consuming. I found a number of strange passages that lead to rooms, at least one of which is probably not thought to be open to the public.

One piece of interesting history. When Not-So-Bonnie Prince Charlie was retreating, he tried to take the Castle, which was then in Hanoverian hands. There are still holes in the walls where his cannonballs hit the Castle.

This castle was also a stronghold of Robert the Bruce. I have to do some boning up on Robert, considered Scotland's greatest hero.

The Castle is also the home of a museum of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, with artifacts from the fighters who distinguished themselves as the 'Thin Red Line' at battles like Balaklava.

Well, when we got to the Castle it was still raining and while Evelyn did not see it, it was even snowing at one point. But while we were there the sky cleared and some of the vistas from the walls were very nice in the sunshine. One looked down on a kind of sculptured park called the King's Know. The grounds form a sort of three-dimensional pattern, sort of the land equivalent of a topiary. I did tell Evelyn that I hoped somewhere near it there was a pub called the King's Knot Inn.

Well, following the Castle visit we went to the bookshop and I purchased for myself all the Richard Hannay novels I didn't have. Until this trip I was unaware that John Buchan (who was, as it turns out, a Scottish baron) had written more Richard Hannay novels than THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS. Our book catalog, in fact, says we don't even have that one, though I thought we did. We do have GREENMANTLE, but I bought the three Hannay novels that follow it. I don't know if there are more than the five. In fact, THE THIRTYNINE STEPS is rather skimpy, while the other four are really much more full-sized. I look forward to reading it on the trip home. (I might point out that it is not the pallid story Hitchcock made. I am told the third film version, which for my preference is the best of the three, is also the most accurate to the novel. The first version had Robert Donat, the second had Kenneth More, and the third had Robert Powell.)

Next we found the B&B only a few blocks from the Castle in a very nice part of town. It is the cheapest B&B at 8.50 pounds/night/person, which is odd because it is also the most comfortable. We have basically a private floor of a house with color television, clock-radio, very nice furniture, in-room coffee and tea, and ginger biscuits.

The woman who runs it recommended a restaurant for dinner, Littlejohns. We went there and it was very enjoyable. I got a Tbone and the steaks are quite good here. Evelyn got a Rob Roy. That is a steak rolled in oats in a special sauce made with whisky. I tried some and it was good too. I asked to try their mustard and they brought a tray with ten jars of mustard from different parts of the world. I tried each in turn (but the Grey Poupon and the French's American). There are some made with wine, one with whisky, and a deep-brown French. The best was English and very strong, a lot like my favorite in the United States, a concoction called Mr. Mustard which feels a little like you've been punched in the nose. Good stuff.

The news tonight had a story about British Telecom's chairman resigning. They talked a lot about British Telecom's problems and how much better phone service is in the United States. There was some, but not much, mention of degradation of service after the AT&T breakup. Before and after, the British telephone situation was always worse than the telephone situation in the United States. If AT&T can be profitable and provide such good phone service, why couldn't British Telecom? (At the convention, one of the authors said he was going to return to the United States with new respect for our telephone system.) They talked on the news item about calling directory assistance and getting a busy signal the first time; the second time it rang for four minutes before they got an answer. Then they played a recording of a directory assistance call in the United States, which in seconds returned with a computer voice clearly reading the number. They talked about the number of public phones out of order and then showed scenes of an American airport which they said had hundreds of telephones and every one worked.
At the convention I also heard that they desperately envied the United States its system of cable television. They have, of course, four stations--the same four all over Britain. They will soon be trying an experiment to have one stay on and broadcast after midnight. On the other hand, their television drama is a lot better than ours, better-acted with better stories. As I write this I am half-listening to their television broadcast of MADAME BUTTERFLY. As I told Evelyn, listening to Puccini is like eating pecan pie. His music is incredibly rich and sweet.

I still have my question after being in Scotland all this time. I've still not found out what Scottish cuisine is like. I suppose this Rob Roy has some of the ingredients I expected, but I doubt that's it.

September 10 (9:58 AM): A minor solved and somewhat amusingly: I noticed that the later Richard Hannay novels seem to be generally available at tourist bookshops. You have to look somewhat harder to find THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS itself. You would think that as the best-known of the Hannay novels, it would be out in front. In fact, it isn't even published by the quality publisher, Penguin, like the other are, but by the less prestigious Pan. All the other books say they are by the author of THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS, but only one or two places have Buchan's most famous novel for sale. Reading Chapter One tells me why all this might be. I think people think THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS might be a little bad for tourism. It seems the real villains of the novel, written sometime around 1910, is the International Jewish Conspiracy. It is them behind the cloak and dagger. Or at least a conspiracy of some Jews. I suppose I should be a little outraged, but how many thrillers have had as the villain a conspiracy of powerful Germans or Russians? Nobody jumps up and says Germans wouldn't do that.

Breakfast was excellent, like everything else. Mrs. Whitten, who runs the place, said she would have liked to talk to us but her husband was having 'a small operation.' I do hope Mr. Whitten is all right. I have written a note in my book to write her once we get back to the States.

We went to the Tourist Information Centre. I arranged for two nights' B&B; Evelyn called Britrail. I haven't heard the story yet, but Evelyn had phone problems. The phone was opposite a cinema showing--what else?--LETHAL WEAPON. We've seen a number of video stores and they all have posters up for violent American films. I don't understand it. At home there is some of that, but you also see posters for films like THE KILLING FIELDS (admittedly violent, but good) and TURTLE DIARY. Here the video stores feature, in their windows, junk exclusively.

It was about an hour's drive to Glasglow. The morning radio DJ, whom you hear in the morning all over Scotland, sounds just like Dickie Bird from COMFORT AND JOY. I don't know where he broadcasts from, and he doesn't use his name on the air, but very possibly COMFORT AND JOY is very nearly true.

This is one of those rain for a half-hour, sun for a half-hour days.

Speaking of Bill Forsyte films, they are playing the Shadows's 'Going Home' on the radio. It was the theme used for Forsyte's LOCAL HERO.

We went to the art museum, but decided that since we wanted to go to a 2 PM lecture, we would drive around Glasgow and get a feel for the city. It isn't easy to do. Unlike in Edinburgh, there is little characteristic architecture. Except for the cars and writing on buildings, this city could almost be Philadelphia. A car here has a bumper sticker saying 'Help your local police--Beat yourself up.' Actually, the best bumper sticker I've seen this trip says, 'Dear God, let there be just one more oil boom. And this time we promise not to piss it all away.'

(9:10 PM): The Burrell Collection is the personal art collection of a Mr. Burrell. His father made ships and he inherited the business. He bought and sold ships and made a MINT. He bought himself a castle and a lot of art. A lot of art. In 1944 he gave his collection to Glasgow on the proviso that the museum built for it would be within 16 miles of Glasgow. Now that was a problem. Much of the collection's art would have been destroyed by Glasgow's filthy air. By 1983, however, the city had adjusted and cleaned up its air (seems like a lot to do just to open a museum). The city held a contest for architects to submit plans for the museum. Architects from all over Northeast Glasgow submitted plans. I don't know who won, but his plan involved a glass roof and big glass windows. The ceiling lets in natural light on art that was neither created nor ever displayed before in natural light. As an unexpected bonus, one wing reflects all the sounds of people in the cafeteria right next to one of the galleries. But it is a small price to pay if you can get in sunlight. That's assuming you get sunlight. We got a little. Some of the time.

Actually the museum has a very airy look to it. They have added little to the original collection but they did buy some doorways from California's Hearst Castle's collection.

The collection includes large numbers of stained glass windows, tapestries (The most interesting has forty or so Bible pictures woven in. It is a medieval German tapestry.), carvings, paintings, statues, and Gawd-knows-what-else.

One piece is an overhang for a door. It is six carved saints, doing saintly things. In the center is Christ on the cross, bleeding. And, you know, not one saint is lifting a finger to help the Christ. I figure if they are saints and they couldn't care less, why should anyone else?

Religious art is funny, huh?

There is old Teutonic knight's armor and various baroque weapons. There is a fireplace Henry VIII had built for himself, no doubt to improve his social life. There is a vase, maybe eight feet wide, from Second Century AD Rome. There are oriental and Egyptian antiquities. Not a bad collection.

Next stop was Glasgow Cathedral. There has been a church on this site since St. Mungo (the popular name for St. Kentigarn) built the first one in 543. The first Cathedral was built on the site in 1136. It is one of those grand cathedrals with Gothic arches framing a high vaulted ceiling. There is a crypt beneath the Cathedral with a large three-paneled tapestry. A guide showed us where somebody had carved a Hebrew evangelical inscription in the stone. However, whoever carved it clearly did not know Hebrew since they left-justified the writing. Hebrew reads right to left and so should be right-justified. Our older guidebook said that the sacristy had a chair that Oliver Cromwell used to sit in, but apparently it had been taken out.

We have a number of different Scotland guidebooks, but the best two are the Michelin guide and a guidebook we found in a used bookstore in London. It must have been published around 1950, though I can find no copyright date. The book is called SCOTLAND by Mackie and Finlay. It has 28 fold-out maps that unfold to as much as one foot square. It has a lot of information about just about any site. Its only real problem is that some of the information is out of date. Lots of sites have been opened to the public since it was published.

Well, we found our B&B after leaving the Cathedral. This one costs a full 1.50 pounds per person more than last night's B&B and it is the worst room we've had since we stayed in Iquitos, Peru on the Amazon. The walls are grimy; the bathroom is worse. The toilet doesn't work and who knows how many people share it? The room does have a television but that is about the only concession to comfort. There is no bedside light. Ev has gone to sleep but I cannot turn out the overhead light since that is all there is. This could sour me on B&Bs. We had Indian food for dinner. I had a spicy lamb dish.

After dinner we returned to the room and wrote logs. The television was running ROMANCING THE STONE and we watched that out of the corners of our eyes.

September 11 (9:52 AM): Well, we had to quickly reformulate our plans for the day. We were intending to go to the Glasgow Transport Museum. We thought we were getting there an hour early, but according to a sign on the door we were there four months early. They were remodeling or some such and we decided not to wait. We quickly rearranged our plans. We are going on a long drive to Drumlanrig Castle. Like many castles, this castle has had its problems. Bonnie Prince Charlie spent a night there on his retreat--he and 2000 close friends who demanded entry. They stole and slaughtered forty sheep (about one for each fifty men) in the vestibule, they stole all the wine and spirits, they melted down pewter(!), stole linen, and badly damaged a portrait of King William III. History does not record a single instance of them being invited back.

Bonnie Prince Charlie seems to have been a hero in the Highlands at a time when the Highlands needed a hero, but the more you hear about this great hero, the less of a bargain he sounds. To allow his men to ride roughshod over whomever they liked is just plain bad planning. He made too many enemies in Scotland to rule even if he could have beaten England. Instead, he behaved like a pirate. Pirates don't make good kings.

There is also a peculiar story of Thomas the Rhymer saying,
'When the Marr Burn runs
Where man never saw
The House of Hassock
Is near a fa''

The Castle was called the 'House of Hassock.' The third Duke's wife, Kitty, ignored the warning and diverted the Marr Burn, a stream, to make a fountain. Both the Duke's sons died young.

Ah, we drove two hours to Drumlanrig Castle. We discovered instead we got there not the four months early, but seven months early. We decided not to wait. We are now headed for the ruins of Caerlaverock Castle. The Michelin guide is less than totally reliable about when things are open. I have half a mind to spend the rest of today diverting the Marr Burn. I guess when a country's tourist attractions are houses people live in, visits are subject to the whims of the families who own the houses.

(1:10 PM): Well, we came this way to see one major castle and saw two minor ones instead.
Comlongon Castle is a minor castle unmentioned in any book we have. Apparently it is of family ownership. It has many short, hand-lettered cards telling you what you are seeing. There are many objects of historical interest around the Castle, though some appear to be real and others reconstructions. One odd feature is that it has more articles of morbid interest than the officially sanctioned castles. At various places you can see a rack, shackles in the wall, a gibbet, others I don't know the name of, and stocks. It has an odd assortment for an unknown castle. It has, of course, a ghost legend. Some woman who had a marriage contract but didn't want to get married instead threw herself from a tower. The legend, like the props, may be of recent fabrication. The Castle connects with a much more recent house which offers bed and breakfast. I suppose it is the Scottish equivalent of a snake farm behind a gas station.

Oh, something about B&Bs. I find a good deal more variation in the bed than in the breakfast. The latter is always one egg, toast, sausage, ham (They call it bacon, but we'd call it ham. Ham steak they call gammon.), and orange juice. It's filling though. We have just that and dinner each day. The big drawback: cholesterol city.

Caerlaverock Castle is a ruin about nine miles south of Dumfries. It is built of pink stone. It was built in 1290-1300 in an unusual triangular shape. We got there at 12:32 PM. There are guided tours, I think, but not from 12:30 to 1:30. Luckily there is some about it in the guidebooks. The name means 'Lark's Nest.' The Castle was complete for less than a year when Edward I lay siege to it. In 1634 a Renaissance facade was put on the inner courtyard. The Castle was abandoned during the Covenanter's wars and has gone into disrepair.

Our last castle of a three-castle day was Dean Castle in Kilmarnock. This is a castle with a dull history. The walls are ten-foot-thick stone. All they have ever had to hold off has been snow and rain. A considerable amount of the latter it held off today.

September 12 (7:56 AM): Well, I have intentionally let myself get behind by more than 24 hours. I now have a lot to do, but I also have a lot of time to do it in. I am sitting in the Edinburgh train station, waiting for a train that will not be leaving for another 2-1/2 hours. It would be hard to tell you everything that has happened to me in the last 24 hours. But that's okay. Most of it you wouldn't care about anyway.

So where was I? Oh, yes. As usual, in the rain. I was in Kilmarnock at Dean Castle. The Castle itself is the center attraction of the town park. If you have a local library card, you can get in free. Unfortunately, they wouldn't give me one. 'They' refers to some people walking through the park. I could have bought a small piece of property to get a library card, but decided that would be stupid. I paid the two pounds and went into the Castle. Now we'd come at a bad time. Not just because the Castle looked less than its best in the rain--if that were the case it would only rarely look better. No, we came at a time when the tour was halfover. The lady said we could join it at the halfway point and then get the first part of the next tour. I had pictured joining a group of ten people being led by a professional. Not quite. It was a teenager taking around two more who apparently were trying to get a little free entertainment out of their library cards. I asked a question and immediately the guide brightened up. The rest of what he said seemed directed to me.

Apparently Kilmarnock, the Castle's old owner, was a patron of Robert Burns. One of the rooms was full of Burns memorabilia. The guide was describing the heraldry and the statues, etc. Now one of my books talked about a legend that old Kilmarnock had a servant who'd seen an apparition of a bloody rolling head that was considered a prediction of Kilmarnock's own execution. I asked to see the room that took place in. It turned out it was a room right near where we were. He noted it was cooler than other rooms in the Castle, but was also an exterior room that was not well-insulated. Hardly the sort of thing that was likely to send the creepy-crawlies up my spine.

Well, that was the end of the tour and our guide took us to the keep where we saw the Great Hall. Now that was pretty interesting. Lots of suits of armor, tapestries, that sort of thing. It was a little hard to understand the guide, since like most Scotsmen he spoke with a funny accent, not plainly like I do. After that we went to the floor above and saw a large display of medieval instruments. I asked some questions about how much of the music was memorized. Apparently this was about the time that the five-line musical notation came in. One of the instruments actually had a piece of music of that notation inside the sounding box.

September 13 (1:18 AM): (Switching back to United States Eastern Daylight Time) I have spent a night on a sleeper car on a British train. I say a sleeper car is a technological device showing tremendous ingenuity and progress toward the problem of creating comfortable sleeping accommodations on a train. That is not, however, the same thing as comfortable. While I have found sleeping on a boat to be fairly comfortable because the rocking is rhythmic, a train's movements are more random. We woke up several times in the night, particularly when the fire alarm went off. Apparently there was a short in the system. As the porter told us, 'That seems to happen all the time. And it's worse than just that. When it goes off like that, it wakes me up.' The porter is something of a card. Always joking. They probably sent him to smile school.

(3:12 AM): In any case, the tour of Dean Castle ended with the music room. We looked around a little more. The guide had told us, curiously, that it was all right to take flash pictures even of the tapestries. His claim is that only old flashbulbs really do any damage. I wonder if that is really true.

Well, when we were done we returned to the car and drove into Ayr for our final B&B. B&Bs tend to be a mixed bag. Our final one was actually pretty nice. It was a big comfortable room in a house that was full of plants and flowers. It had twin beds set foot to foot.

We headed for dinner, stopping first at a Safeway(!) grocery. Our flight home is supposed to have no meals so we wanted to pick up provisions for the trip home. Some of what we got were cookies or sweet biscuits. Earlier we'd tried their Scottish Abernathies (a richer version of what tastes something like an animal cracker) and Ginger Perkins (ginger snaps). This time we got orange cookies. They don't really taste orange, but they contain orange peel oil and smell like orange peels. If that sounds strange, in India deserts often come with rose syrup that has a strong scent of roses. We also got chocolate-chip gingers--like a ginger snap but with chocolate chips (big surprise). I don't actually care for them because the chips are too sweet. Also we got Scottish oatcakes. They look like cookies. Very strange. When you taste them, they at first remind you of unsalted pretzels. After you eat them for a little while you discover the taste is closer to Cheerios.

I got a can of a different brand of ginger beer and Evelyn got a can of dandelion-flavored soda. For dinner we chose a pub. I ordered fried scampi. Now where we are, scampi is a way of preparing seafood, not the food itself. Here I guess scampi is the name of a type of fish. With the trip coming to an end, I ordered it. I also ordered an appetizer of potato skins.

Potato skins turned out to be a pleasant surprise. They are different than in the United States. Rather than six or seven pieces that are basically baked potatoes with some of the center scooped out, they are a large plate of fried potato peelings. I guess that doesn't sound very good. Actually it is just what you do want. Most of the vitamins are in the jacket and it also has the most interesting consistency. In any case, they were quite good, though the sauces were not all that keen. There were three dishes, one with a tomato sauce, one with a thin sour cream and chive sauce, and one with a flavorless hot sauce. Scampi turned out to be a little harder to recognize. I think it was shrimp. I dissected a few. It had a fried coating. The inside is made up of smaller pieces that were shrimp-like in consistency, if not actually shrimp.

(5:10 AM): Well, we are waiting here in Gatwick. Apparently either Virgin Atlantic or our travel agent booked us on a flight that doesn't exist, at least to hear Virgin Atlantic tell it. We are now booked on a 4:40 PM flight (11:40 EDT). So we will have a lot of airport time. Well, it will give me a chance to get caught up on logs. I hope the people meeting us check with the airport. Actually we may give them a call.

Well, after dinner we returned to the room and consolidated our belongings into the travel bags and knapsacks. I read a little about our last day and we watched a little British telly, then went to sleep.

Saturday morning was rainy and ugly. We had our last B&B breakfast and set out for Culzean Castle. This is a castle on a beautiful cliff overlooking the water. In the rain it looked pretty dreary. The name is pronounced Kul-AY-an, by the way. It was owned by the Kennedy family, who were descended from the Earls of Carrick. The land was obtained from Allan Stewart, a local abbot. Gilbert Kennedy apparently got the Earl to sign away the land by having the abbot stripped naked, bound to a spit, and roasted, while being liberally basted with oil every few minutes to prevent burning. After a while the abbot agreed to sign away the land. He later renounced the paper, claiming for some reason that it was signed under duress. Kennedy decided that the first time he tried the recipe it had turned out underdone. He once again tried the recipe until the meat was tender and juicy and very ready to sign. The dish turned out somewhat more expensive than originally planned. The Privy Council ruled that the lands would go to Kennedy, but he owed the abbot a very large 2000 pounds and a pension.

The Castle itself, oddly enough, was hard to find. It is well-hidden deep in a park and I headed off in the wrong direction. Well, that was corrected eventually. The Castle consists of two buildings separated by a large courtyard. There is an archway leading to the courtyard and at the top of the arch is a cherubic boy on a fish holding an arrow as if to stab his piscine steed. I told Evelyn that the Castle was dedicated to cruelty to fish.

The first room you go in in the Castle is sort of an armory with hundreds of swords and guns decoratively placed on the walls in pretty patterns. Most of the rest of the Castle is 'look at the affluence' rooms. You know--fancy beds, fancy tables, fancy paintings, fancy tableware. All okay to see, but not really my cup of tea.

They had the usual set of fireplace screens. Women of the day used to wax their faces in order to look pale and to smooth out wrinkles. If they sat in front of the fire with the heat on their wax faces, they would look like the climax of H. Rider Haggard's SHE. So instead they would have these things that looked like music stands but in the place where you'd put the music was instead a vertical rectangle of wood. They would place this between their faces and the fire.

These fire screens would be decorated with things like sampler patterns. The one I saw at Culzean had the alphabet but the 'Q' was instead a mirror-image 'P', much as it would be in script.

There were a set of rooms given over to a single hero in British history. Who? Dwight David Eisenhower. These rooms were set up to honor him and his memory. They had been given to him by the British following World War II to do with as he liked while he was alive, and they set up the display when he died.

Now a curious thing is the arrows that showed you which way to go gave you the choice of seeing or bypassing these rooms. Anywhere else they directed you, they just assumed if you were not interested you'd walk quickly. But if you did not want to see a tribute to an American general, you could skip it entirely. Draw what conclusions you wish.

For reasons unexplained, there was also a room of ship models including one perfectly normal ship constructed of bones from French prisoners' meat rations.

Well, that finished our visiting in this neck of the country, so we popped back into the car and headed back to Edinburgh.

We made one slight diversion to go to Cairnpapple Hill. This is a site that was used for burials from 3000 BC to about 100 AD. Today you enter a concrete dome protecting graves from what are called the second and third of five phases. The second phase was 2500-2000 BC; the third phase was 2000-1600 BC. The second-phase tomb is a pit surrounded by seven large stones, mostly two feet high, but one is four or five feet high. The third phase has a burial cist that consists of what looks like a tomb whose sides consist of piled stones and which is covered at the top with a large horizontal monolith. Outside the concrete dome (which is, of course, modern and present only to make the tombs accessible) is a cairn (i.e., a pile of small rocks). This is pocked with hemispherical holes four feet wide and two feet deep. They are maybe five or six feet apart. This, I explained to Evelyn, is proof that golf was once a much faster and easier game.

The weather had cleared up a bit so our last ancient site was somewhat nicer than expected. This was the only ancient site that charged admission probably because they had to build the dome.

We then had a little over an hour to return the car (at 4:30 PM). That seemed like plenty of time, so we stopped in a town outside of Edinburgh for lunch. I think we picked the only town that didn't have a decent fish and chips place. The only restaurant open was a sort of greasy spoon called 'The Coffee Pot.' I had a rather poor haddock and chips. It took rather longer than we expected, so it was a race to get to the Budget-Rent-A-Car office by the 4:30 PM closing. We made it with five minutes to spare. 4:25 we drove into the parking area at Budget. It had closed early. Hmmm! Now what? Well, we could just leave the car and forego getting our itemized bill.

Well, our train wasn't until 10:30 PM. Now that there was no reason to rush, we drove through Edinburgh. On a whim I told Evelyn to leave me at the Scott Monument. I ran up to the top, finding that much easier than going almost to the top nine days earlier. On the way down I bought myself a certificate saying I'd done it. I did take some photos at the top to prove I'd been there. Evelyn picked me up at the bottom. I couldn't resist telling her, 'You should try it on a really windy day.'

While I was gone she'd looked at the Michelin book and had found one more castle to visit. This one was of the snake farm variety, though it did have the endorsement of the National Trust. The National Trust for Scotland is the official group who sanctions sites and sets up presentations telling you the history of the site.

While on the way there, there was a semi-tongue-in-cheek expose about a supergrass (a grass is a stool-pigeon). I think he was called John 'The Stick' Smith. He got the nickname because he used to carry a stick to break people's legs with. It was a term of endearment. Smith was the kind of guy who would put an arm in a fire just to make a point of how tough he was. Not his own arm, of course. Someone else's. John never wanted to get in trouble with the police. It just sort of happened. But then few criminals really do. The interviewer noted that while he was a grass, not a single piece of information John had given the police had ever been corroborated. The police said that that just proved what a unique source of information Smith was.

I would have liked to hear the whole program but we got to Craigmillar Castle and had to move on. Unlike most of the castles, this one had not been restored. It is really little more than a shell, but it is a very big shell.

Now, what is Craigmillar Castle? Well, you may remember Mary Queen of Scots's husband played a little practical joke on Mary. Lord Darnley wanted to put a little scare into Mary, so he had some of his friends sneak up to her chamber and stab her secretary Rizzio several dozen times. Mary didn't see the humor, nor did she miscarry (which Darnley had expected as the capper of the joke), but she did pack her bags and move across town to Craigmillar Castle until Darnley 'grew up and stopped acting like a jerk.' Mary had a friend there (Bothwell?) who came up with a payback joke that not only would really get Darnley back and would make him feel silly, but would just kill him. Unfortunately somebody poisoned Darnley and they never got to pay him back.

The task of restoring this huge fortress would be immense. The Castle was a split-level three or four stories high. We must have spent about 45 minutes there and got done about 7 PM. There had been a lot of exploring. The place was almost a maze of rooms. So that was really it for sightseeing. All that was left was going home. We drove back to Budget. On the way, we drove through Edinburgh railway station to see if we could find a phone number for a cab company. We couldn't so Ev stopped and I ran over to a cab and asked what number to call. (A silly detail, but I am trying to be complete.) We dropped off the car, called a cab, and waited about 25 minutes. I was getting ready to hail passing cabs when ours finally showed up. Then came a long wait at the train station. We sat next to a German student who was on her way to the University at Stirling. We recommended Mrs. Whitten's B&B. We talked to her for a while and helped her find her train, which was at first canceled and then was restored.

At 10:20 or so, our train was in the station. We boarded. The porter looked at us and said, 'You look like Leepers.' Apparently he gets a list of everyone who'll be riding in his car. The cabin must be about 4-1/2' by 6' and 3' of the 4-1/2' is bunk. Everything folds into and out of the wall. The sink converts to a table, with a foldaway top. There are two different foldaway tables over the lower bed and one over the upper one. As I commented earlier, the night was less than comfortable. We got to Gatwick uneventfully, taking the Underground between trains. At Gatwick we found out that we'd been booked on a 4:15 PM flight, not an 11:55 AM (British Summer Time).

Thinngs went along pretty uneventfully after that except when I noticed the same backpack had been left unattended on the seat next to me for about 45 minutes. They'd been broadcasting on the public address system not to leave any bag unattended. We were going downstairs anyway to check our luggage and when we saw a constable, we told him about the unattended knapsack. He was interested. It was probably nothing, but when we came back later the knapsack was gone.
It may have been fifteen or twenty minutes later, but Evelyn and I were walking around and the police were closing off sections of the floor and setting up a police cordon. Shortly after that they reopened the floor. Either it was an unrelated incident or they'd moved the knapsack to where they could put it behind the corrugated blast-proof doors.

We'd heard that in France when unattended parcels are found, they take them outside and blow them up. On one hand I guess I feel a little guilty that I may have caused a great deal of trouble for some innocent person, but in these days of terrorism you really should not leave unattended parcels in airports, and I think that the police would much prefer someone reporting unattended parcels than just assuming everything is okay.

The more I think about it, the more I think that the two events had to have been related. I think we started a bomb scare. We did the right thing, but there wouldn't have been the scare without us reporting it.

Well, that out of the way, we were still waiting. I grabbed some lunch from a Burger King, just so I could see if British hamburgers were still bad. They'd gotten better over the last eight years but they were still not really good. Before we knew it, it was 45 minutes before our flight. We still had to change our money. That took about 15 minutes. With a half and hour to get through security, we had not counted on how complete their checks had become. They wanted to see each film cup opened. There was one for each Kodak 35mm roll (the Fujis come in clear plastic cups). We ended up running to the gate only to find it filled with passengers still sitting around.

The rest has been a pretty uneventful flight. I discovered that the earphones for the movie are electrical plugs rather than the usual forced-air column, so I could use Walkman earphones to hear the film. They had five Disney cartoons including the one which introduced Huey, Dewey, and Louie (big deal). The film was Ted Turner's colorized version of 42ND STREET. I can see what people say about how badly Turner's people colorize. Faces were uniformly orange. A pink dress was white at the edges. The actress lifted her arm and the dress went white around her arm. It was an incredibly half-hearted and unconvincing attempt at colorization.

Following the film there was an hour-long documentary on James Bond films. We should be landing in about 40 minutes.

September 14 (4:36 AM): We actually landed a minute ahead of schedule. That is unusual for Newark, but may have had something to do with the co-pilot asking if there was a doctor on board. They may have rushed us through. The passport check took longer than Customs. Though in Customs, when they read we'd been on a farm they called out an agricultural agent to see the bottoms of our shoes. We were home by 8:30 PM. As always, the first night after a trip, particularly a long one, the house feels unfamiliar.

Going over, a sleepless night before leaving really killed any jet lag I had. I could sleep on the plane and woke up pretty much feeling in time with British time. In this direction I went to bed maybe a half-hour early, but I woke up something like 2-1/2 hours early. Not bad, but it will take a little work.

I had been dieting before the trip and was concerned how much effect three weeks of ignoring my diet would show on my weight. Net effect was zero.

Well, I guess it is coming time to summarize the trip. It broke roughly into two halves: England and Scotland. England broke into two halves: London and Brighton. The England half was pretty expensive; the Scotland part was fairly inexpensive. London is a fun city and probably the best city in the world for live drama.

We saw little of Brighton but the convention. There was talk before the convention that it was disorganized and a lot of people were unhappy with the con committee. I think it was a pretty good con once it got going, but then a lot of the things people complained about are not the sort of things that affect me directly. I had a good time, far better than at most conventions.

Scotland has had a long history of two cultures fighting each other. One culture was the Anglo-European culture which most of us grew up with. The other was the Highland tradition which is fairly alien. Now, a theme of our travels has been looking for alien cultures. They are generally pretty expensive to get to and require the inconvenience of a foreign language. By this measure, Scotland is a real bargain. You speak English, you get around cheaply, and you get a look at a fairly alien culture, particularly in the Highlands. You get to see a good deal of a feudal past. It's like seeing Japan cheaply and without language problems. The one unfortunate aspect is that at some point there was a general acceptance of European culture and seeing castles you see a little too much of nobles' fancy plates and paintings. They have tried to cover up at least some of the barbarism of the past which would give the country more flavor and color. Living rooms were restored to luxury but dungeons are empty shells. Now granted, that is an overstatement. We did see quite a bit of the colorful past, but more would have been better. That is a quibble. For what we like in a vacation, Scotland was a very good choice. It would be high on my list of countries I would like to return to.

THE END





PHANTOM OF THE OPERA




A theatre review by Mark R. Leeper
Copyright 1987 Mark R. Leeper





I review a lot of things and see or read a lot more. It is not all that unusual that I come away from some and consciously say that it is the best of a certain class I have ever seen, read, or whatever. I thought that the remake of CAT PEOPLE was the best shape-changer horror film I had ever seen. But of course that is the best of a small class. It is far rarer that I would say something is the best play. But I will say that for me PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was the best play. By artistic merits alone AMADEUS was a better play, I suppose, but PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was the most enjoyable and even the most meaningful play. It is a pot-boiler melodrama based on a pot-boiler melodramatic novel and I loved it. Sometimes even a pot-boiler can hit you squarely on target and you are absolutely floored. I hope Margaret Thatcher, who attended the same performance as I did, enjoyed it as much.

Contradicting a review I wrote earlier of the record, I now concede that the play may be more faithful to the novel than the Lon Chaney film. It certainly reveals more of the Phantom's background and tragedy. The Phantom is shown to be the genius he was in the Gaston Leroux novel and the victim of an unfeeling world. The Chaney film undercuts its own tragedy by making the Phantom a mad escapee from Devil's Island. That robs him of his power and gives the power instead to the madness. In fact, the Phantom is a polymath, a genius of whatever he does who is robbed of the fruits of his genius and at times was actually caged as an animal because of his extreme ugliness. After decades of being denied by humanity, the Phantom finds and partially creates for himself a world where he is all-powerful. That was what gave the novel its power, but none of the films built him up as the tragic polymath. The play does. On lilstening to the record I did not catch how much of the novel really was translated to the stage for the play. To fit as much of the plot into a musical of all play forms is incredible. They did eliminate the Persian, who is a major character of the novel, and many chapters from near the end of the novel, particularly those involving the torture chamber scenes which are telescoped to a few seconds on the stage, but I don't think the impact has really been lost.

Most of this could be told from the record. What I could not have expected is the brilliance of the set design. When youo are first sitting in the theatre, the stage seems small. What they do with that tiny stage is hard to believe. Many effects are impressive but none so impressive as the descent to the lake below the opera house (it really exists under the Paris Opera House, by the way, and is used to buoy up the stage), which has to be seen to be appreciated. Less impressive is the falling chandelier, which is much less convincing. But the moment when you first see the Phantom is a cold chill like nothing I remember seeing in any film or play. PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is really a superb adaption of a story I have loved for years.

Now for a few minor quibbles. Andrew Lloyd Webber's music is spectacular as long as he is simply having his characters sing, but he does some funny things when he is representing other composers' music. Presumably his song 'Evergreen' is an aria from the opera HANNIBAL by Chalumeu. From the style of opera of the period, and from what we do hear of the opera, it is clear that the song simply would not fit in. It is not of an operatic style and Webber did not want to take a chance on his audiences not appreciating the beauty of the operatic style. Further it seems absurd that a musical genius like the Phantom would write an opera in which the music is just unappealing scales and with phrases like 'Those who tangle with Don Juan....' That sounds like it came from a poverty-row Western rather than an opera written by a musical genius.

But I think the measure of how much the play was enjoyed by its audience can be taken by the group I was with. They paid 18 pounds (about $30). The scalpers were selling the same tickets for 75 pounds (about $125) and were selling out. The group I saw the play with were clammering for us to get tickets for them at New York City prices so that they could see it a second time.

I'm looking forward to it.






I review a lot of things and see or read a lot more. It is not all that unusual that I come away from some and consciously say that it is the best of a certain class I have ever seen, read, or whatever. I thought that the remake of CAT PEOPLE was the best shape-changer horror film I had ever seen. But of course that is the best of a small class. It is far rarer that I would say something is the best play. But I will say that for me PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was the best play. By artistic merits alone AMADEUS was a better play, I suppose, but PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was the most enjoyable and even the most meaningful play. It is a pot-boiler melodrama based on a pot-boiler melodramatic novel and I loved it. Sometimes even a pot-boiler can hit you squarely on target and you are absolutely floored. I hope Margaret Thatcher, who attended the same performance as I did, enjoyed it as much.

Contradicting a review I wrote earlier of the record, I now concede that the play may be more faithful to the novel than the Lon Chaney film. It certainly reveals more of the Phantom's background and tragedy. The Phantom is shown to be the genius he was in the Gaston Leroux novel and the victim of an unfeeling world. The Chaney film undercuts its own tragedy by making the Phantom a mad escapee from Devil's Island. That robs him of his power and gives the power instead to the madness. In fact, the Phantom is a polymath, a genius of whatever he does who is robbed of the fruits of his genius and at times was actually caged as an animal because of his extreme ugliness. After decades of being denied by humanity, the Phantom finds and partially creates for himself a world where he is all-powerful. That was what gave the novel its power, but none of the films built him up as the tragic polymath. The play does. On lilstening to the record I did not catch how much of the novel really was translated to the stage for the play. To fit as much of the plot into a musical of all play forms is incredible. They did eliminate the Persian, who is a major character of the novel, and many chapters from near the end of the novel, particularly those involving the torture chamber scenes which are telescoped to a few seconds on the stage, but I don't think the impact has really been lost.

Most of this could be told from the record. What I could not have expected is the brilliance of the set design. When youo are first sitting in the theatre, the stage seems small. What they do with that tiny stage is hard to believe. Many effects are impressive but none so impressive as the descent to the lake below the opera house (it really exists under the Paris Opera House, by the way, and is used to buoy up the stage), which has to be seen to be appreciated. Less impressive is the falling chandelier, which is much less convincing. But the moment when you first see the Phantom is a cold chill like nothing I remember seeing in any film or play. PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is really a superb adaption of a story I have loved for years.

Now for a few minor quibbles. Andrew Lloyd Webber's music is spectacular as long as he is simply having his characters sing, but he does some funny things when he is representing other composers' music. Presumably his song 'Evergreen' is an aria from the opera HANNIBAL by Chalumeu. From the style of opera of the period, and from what we do hear of the opera, it is clear that the song simply would not fit in. It is not of an operatic style and Webber did not want to take a chance on his audiences not appreciating the beauty of the operatic style. Further it seems absurd that a musical genius like the Phantom would write an opera in which the music is just unappealing scales and with phrases like 'Those who tangle with Don Juan....' That sounds like it came from a poverty-row Western rather than an opera written by a musical genius.

But I think the measure of how much the play was enjoyed by its audience can be taken by the group I was with. They paid 18 pounds (about $30). The scalpers were selling the same tickets for 75 pounds (about $125) and were selling out. The group I saw the play with were clammering for us to get tickets for them at New York City prices so that they could see it a second time.

I'm looking forward to it.






A theatre review by Mark R. Leeper
Copyright 1987 Mark R. Leeper





'Boffin' is a piece of British slang. Literally, it simply means scientist. But I have never heard it used without more meaning tacked on. It would never be associated with someone like Carl Sagan, though he is indeed a scientist. The implication of the term 'boffin' seems to be that somewhere around age 14 the person totally stopped developing his mind in anything but his scientific reasoning power. The boffin is mentally a little kid who has grown used to playing with very big and technically complex toys. The character James Stewart played in NO HIGHWAY IN THE SKY, based on Nevil Shute's NO HIGHWAY, was a boffin. The king boffin was Alan Turing, a brilliant mathematician, computer scientist, and even a biologist. He did fundamental work in computer science defining the abstract computer, the Turing machine. While there were a team of mathematicians working on the problem, it is Turing who is credited with breaking Germany's Enigma Code, a message encryption system whose solution contributed in major ways to the war effort.

He was also apparently a mother-dominated homosexual. That the fact that he was a homosexual ever came to police attention was the result of his blundering. Removed from the field of science, he was a nail-biting, stammering misfit. This duality of personality, so brilliant and polished when dealing with science and yet so unpolished and insecure in his personal life, is the subject of Hugh Whitmore's drama BREAKING THE CODE, based on Andrew Hodges's excellent biography, ALAN TURING: THE ENIGMA OF INTELLIGENCE. (Curiously, both the title of the book and of the play are doublemeaninged.)

The Michael Redington production at London's Comedy Theatre starred John Castle as Turing. Castle is well-remembered for the role of Geoffrey, the son neither parent wanted for king in the film version of THE LION IN WINTER. Castle shows impressive range playing the two Turings, one brilliant and self-assured, one awkward and insecure.

The play is a montage flashing backward and forward in time like the scanner on a television screen painting a complete picture from bits and pieces. Turing's homosexuality is seen as one more manifestation of his sense of wonder at the universe. In a life that in some ways parallels that of Robert J. Oppenheimer, we see him both honored and abandoned by his government.

The play includes details of his homosexual life and examples of his scientific reasoning, including a complete lecture on the nature of the brain. The staging is sparse and usually irrelevant to the action. Still, it is a lot of play. Strongly recommended for computer scientists, mathematicians, and just about everyone else.

[BREAKING THE CODE starts previews on Broadway 11/05/87 and opens on 11/15/87 in the Simon Theater.]


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