Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Day the Last

Ten to midnite.  Debra is asleep.  (Or, trying to sleep -- something she's been unable to do all trip.  She says the typing doesn't bother her; I hope that's true.)  I'm packing.  The computer is on because it is charging my ipod.  (Aha!  Take that, people at the Apple Store who said we needed a special converter/adapter to charge an ipod abroad.  I got my laptop hooked up thanks to its perfectly good AC adapter (which takes current anywhere from 100 to 240) and plug-that-I-bought-in-Hong-Kong, and hey, when the laptop is on, I can just plug the ipod into a USB port and, bingo -- instant recharging.)  So, yeah -- Debra sleeping, ipod charging, and I'm alternately packing and playing on the internet.

Odd day today.  Decided to go on one of them London Walks.  Selected one called "Occult London and the Da Vinci Code," which is definitely an odd choice I've neither read Da Vinci Code nor seen the movie.  I didn't think it would entirely matter, as the description of the walk suggests it just goes off on borderline coincidences that appear creepy and implies that Da Vinci Code is something in the nature of a springboard for a discussion of said creepy coincidences.  Besides, I always figured Da Vinci Code to be something akin to Foucault's Pendulum on training wheels (y'know, what with the Templars being all in on some great big secret plan), so I reckoned I could get enough out of it by bringing my knowledge of Foucault's Pendulum to the party.  (Random note to anyone out there who read Foucault's Pendulum:  At the British Library, they have a few pages of Da Vinci's sketchbook on display.  In the corner of one of the pages is what's clearly a shopping list ... has a few items like "bread" written on it.  Cracked me up something fierce.)

ANYWAY, here's the thing with the walk.  They totally need to the change the description of the walk, 'cause it was all Da Vinci Code this and "here's where they filmed that scene in the movie" that -- and most of the alleged coincidences they talk about in the walk description didn't even get mentioned.  Instead we pretty much had a brief retelling of the plot of the novel, with significant attention paid to the London bits, as we "retraced the path" of the main characters (with attention also paid to the details Dan Brown just got wrong).

The walk turned out to be worthwhile anyway for two reasons.  The first was that, by complete and utter coincidence (in the sense that I had no idea that this particular location was a plot point in the Da Vinci Code) the walk went to the Temple Church.  Temple Church is the Church hanging out in Inner Temple, which is one of the four Inns of Court.  Which is where I worked one summer, about 18 years ago, when I was in law school and one of my professors hooked me up with a barrister.  I'd actually tried to find this church some years since, and been unsuccessful at it, so was actually thrilled to revisit the place.

(The barrister I'd worked for was in (or near, I forget) the chambers of John Mortimer -- the fellow who wrote "Rumpole of the Bailey."  Everyone in chambers would be amusingly annoyed when, almost daily, some tour group would come by under the window, with a guide rattling on in some foreign language, the only words of which we'd understand would be "Rumpole of the Bailey."  I laughed quietly to myself at the idea that now that the "Rumpole" tours were probably over, they'd been replaced by Da Vinci Code tours.)

The other worthwhile thing about the walk was our guide, who goes by the moniker "Richard III" as he's the third Richard employed by the London Walks people.  Richard had an extremely dry delivery (which, at first, I mistook for boredom or disinterest), which was really the best way to go when recounting the whole Da Vinci Code story, especially when one believes the whole thing is something of a crock.  He had us all laughing by the end -- and we'd seen a few sights and learned a few things, and that ain't bad for two hours and six pounds.

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