This is a quickie from the heart of darkest London (well, a cheap hotel near Euston Station). Let me tell you about a marvellous moment from our sightseeing yesterday. Not our hour at Mmme Tussauds, possibly the worst waste of time and money in the tourist world (and that bar has been set quite high). Not our lunch, which was much more fun. (We got lost on our way to Petticoat Lane and ended up taking part in the "battle of the Baltis" -- an informal contest among the approximately 175 Indian Restaurants on one narrow four-block-long stretch of Brick Road.) No, I am talking about our tour of the Tower of London, when we realized that we were standing on the exact bit of ground where all those queens had been beheaded. This is so cool, said Imo. Everything here reeks of blood! She took pictures of horrific instruments of torture and battle (we figured that Sam would want to know how they'd kill zombies in the sixteenth century), and shivered as we got lower and lower, and the walls got narrower and the light got dimmer and the smell of blood got stronger ... and we almost fancied we could hear ghosts wailing ... until we recognized that the faint eldritch shrieking had words in it: and the words were: Rudolf the red-nosed reinderr, had a very shiny nose, and if you ever saw it .... That's right. In the heart of the grim fortress, down at dungeon level, there was this absurd sound byte -- as funny and strangely human as a fart at climax. Unless of course the words really were sung by ghasties and ghoulies.
(Maybe that's it. Maybe Rudolf was killed there, and his nose put on a pike on the castle walls, to serve as a warning for other treacherous reindeer. Brrr!)
Seriously, do they do this kind of thing at other world heritage sites? Is there an informal chant-along of O dreidel dreidel dreidel at the Wailing Wall at sunset? Do the Gettysburg re-enacters stop in the middle of Pickett's Charge to sing Frosty the Snowman?
Funny folks, the English. And I haven't even mentioned their TV programming yet...