Departures: England Plus Paris: Part 12

The Den of Thieves

Thu May 09 British Museum, London
[Photo: scrolls with calligraphy] [Photo: more calligraphy]

I went to the British Museum. Not much happened, but I saw many things that brought me joy and understanding.

[Photo: scrolls with calligraphy]
[Photo: magical device]

There was a huge stone Buddha in a stairwell. When I saw it, I muttered, "That's one big Buddha."

There was a go board that was hollow with wires stretched taut inside. When a player sniks down a piece, the board would resonate.

I noticed that the guards had little notebooks in which they wrote things down. I imagined what they might write.

But then I figured that they wouldn't note these things, because they were too commonplace.

Anyhow, follow the photo-links for my tremendously insightful commentary.

[Photo: scholars gathered around the Rosetta stone]
[Photo: the Elgin marbles]
[Photo: Roman mosaic]
[Photo: These Etruscan statues looked as calm as the Buddha] [Photo: Etruscan critter statues] [Photo: Etruscan statues]
[Photo: Etruscan ornament]
[Photo: duck-shaped jug]
[Photo: quadrant of a water wheel] [Photo: Diagram: water wheels draining a mine]
[Photo: Mobile credit card checker]
[Photo: counting board]
[Photo: clock] [Photo: clock face, with planetoid!]
[Photo: back-lit clock face]
[Photo: clockwork ship] [Photo: clock on board clockwork ship]
[Photo: complicated watches]
[Photo: clockwork]
[Photo: sphinx]
[Photo: tourists aplenty]
[Photo: coal production poster]
[Photo: Ganesh statue] [Photo: Ganesh statue, zooming in on the heads]
[Photo: bird-shaped dish]
[Photo: book showing a Chinese loom, some kid controlling something with a card] [Photo: zoom in on the kid]
[Photo: fake bookshelves]
[Photo: modern lamp holder]
[Photo: chair]
[Photo: backrest]
[Photo: hats]
[Photo: statue]
[Photo: writing on an Assyrian relief]
[Photo: self-portrait]
[Photo: sphinxoid table leg]
[Photo: neck of a stringed instrument]
[Photo: helmet]

Big Game Hunting

Thu May 09 Playin' Games, London

I'd tried the Britain Visitor Centre and I'd tried the yellow pages, but I found Playin' Games by walking past it. I was looking for good boardgames. At the time, some were emerging from Germany. London was closer to Germany than my home was, so I thought it might be easier to find good games.

(April 26) I'd stopped in at a Games Workshop store. As it turned out, they only sold games published by Games Workshop. They also had had a large table set up on which some spotty wargamers had been conducting a miniature battle. I had snuck out fast.

(May 3) I had tried asking at the Britain Visitor Centre. They had pointed me at Hamleys, which seemed to be the FAO Schwarz of London: it wasn't much good for anything, but had good presentation. They had had a wide selection of boring boardgames. It had taken me a long time to confirm that all its boardgames were dumb because that section of the store was full of German tourists. No, really. I guess that they, like me, were in search of foreign games.

(May 7) I had tried the yellow pages. Most of the entries under Games had sounded like video game places, but the Orc's Nest had sounded promising. The Orc's Nest, as you might guess from the name, had fantasy games. To give you an idea of the place, I was not surprised to see that they carried Dork Tower comic books. They had a game from France, translated into English. Well, that could be an exotic foreign game... except that when I got back to my room, I noticed that the game had a North American distributor, but no UK distributor. Had I come to London to buy a game imported from the USA? I had not.

(May 9) Playin' Games was a most excellent game store. At first, it just looked like a place to pick up the latest Monopoly variation. But then I went downstairs. There were shelves of boardgames downstairs. There were some German games which I'd played and some German games which I hadn't played.

I looked around for promising-looking British games but I didn't find any.

There was a game called "San Francisco". I asked the guy behind the counter if they would ship it to San Francisco for me. My eyes twinkled. The guy behind the counter snickered. He went over to the manager. The manager was talking to someone. The clerk waved the game at her and asked her how much it would cost to ship it to San Francisco. He waved the game at her, but if she noticed the title, she didn't react. She named a price. He waved the game at her a little more, then gave up. It's cute to send a game to its namesake, but not cute enough to say, "Hey, look, we're sending this game to its namesake!"

I asked if they had Junta. They didn't. As far as they knew, it was out of print, even in their neck of the woods.

Anyhow, Playin' Games was the best boardgame store that I found in London. Go there.


Thu May 09 Kyra Moroccani, London

The restaurant had an "open" sign. There was also a sawhorse sign outside saying "Kyra is open." The door was locked. I peeked inside; there was nobody. So they didn't fool me for long.

They Had the Flavor

Thu May 09 Little Italy, London

With a name like Little Italy, I didn't think that this Westbourne Grove restaurant would be good, but I was wrong. They made a mean penne al Arrabiata.

I was there early. Londoners don't like to eat early. I was the only customer in the restaurant. In this situation, ask not for whom the order-up bell dings; it dings for thee.


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