28 April, 2011

"The Fever" Strikes the ICLC

For the safety of everyone, I would like to put out a warning that there is a minor health risk at the ICLC.  Symptoms of the condition include, a compulsive need to mix in the mass of people in central London (masses which are growing by the minute!), urges to buy tacky memorabilia and facial twitches that resemble excitement.  Yes, Wedding Fever has penetrated our defenses.  William and Kate are getting married and people are traveling the world to see it happen.  We tried to hold off "The Fever" as long as possible, but with ground zero of the outbreak being in the UK itself, we're lucky to have held out so long.
Examples of 2 main symptoms shown here: excitement and tacky memorabilia

The latest victim to be claimed is our Director, Bill Sheasgreen.  In most cases the symptoms are only temporary, and usually dissipate over time (though it is unknown how long they may last).  No cure has been found, and most people are told to wait out the symptoms and hope for the best, but with the fever spreading across the world since last October, it is thought that it will reach epic heights on Friday April 29th, 2011. 

Our thoughts are with Bill as he struggles through the fever.  We are pleased to say that Wedding Fever has not affected Bill's ability to direct the London Centre, it has only caused him to put up contentious decorations in the ICLC.  Sarah and Claire have remained immune throughout the ordeal and hope to continue that way.

-Elsie (who is safely quarantined)

14 April, 2011

Crossing the Border: Scotland

One of the most asked questions students pose when preparing to go to Scotland is, do I need my passport?  There is indeed a border between England and Scotland, but, along with Wales and Northern Ireland, these countries are all part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  This question put to Brits probably sounds the same as asking an American if you need to show your passport to travel from New York to New Jersey.  No passport is required for either of these border crossings.

Slightly less popular as questions about traveling to Scotland go is, do I need to change my money?  Another no is the answer to this question.  However, you will notice in Scotland that the notes look different.  £10 of Bank of England notes has exactly the same value as £10 of Bank of Scotland notes, £10 of Royal Bank of Scotland notes and £10 of Clydesdale Bank notes.  Yes, there are three banks in Scotland which have the right to produce money, versus one in England, one in Ireland and none in Wales.  All pound sterling notes are acceptable in all parts of the United Kingdom.  Scottish notes are often faced with skepticism in London because they are popular with counterfeiters trying to pass off fake money, but real Scottish notes are unquestionably viable.

My favorite question is, what did that person say?  Some Scottish accents can be difficult to decipher by an untrained ear, but there is every chance that that person really did say, "Deep fried Mars Bars are delicious".  It's a Scottish delicacy and well worth a try!
Bill is seen here preparing a Scottish feast, complete with haggis, Irn-Bru and Mars Bars for deep frying.  The flags in the background give extra Scottish flavour.

-Elsie

05 April, 2011

Keith Moon's plaque at 35 Harrington Gardens

For everyone who was duped into thinking that Keith Moon really is having a blue plaque dedicated to him at 35 Harrington Gardens, here is a rebuttal:

Yes, the ICLC has a truly rockstar past.  There was the time that the Beatles performed their last live performance together on the roof.  No, that was at Apple Corps at 3 Saville Row.  There was the first Live Aid Concert in 1985.  No, that was at Wembley.  There was the broadcast of the music video for Video Killed the Radio Star at 00:01 on 1 August 1981.  No, that was MTV.  Perhaps the rockstar history of 35 Harrington Gardens is a bit more checkered that we had originally thought.  Or perhaps the rockstar history of 35 Harrington Gardens is non-existent.  Did Keith Moon really live here for a short time?

Bill's very plausible fabrication needs to be broken apart to find the holes.  Foremost is the issue of the plaque, itself.  To have a blue plaque put up, you must petition English Heritage.  It can take months, even years to have your petition succeed, and very few do on their first try.  Its sticking point is often the proof required.  Petitioners must submit "Memories" of the person's relationship to the property.  If the person was associated with the property within the last 70 years, then there needs to be "testimony in the form of affidavits from at least 2 unrelated, living sources" who recall the person's presence there.  If no one can be found to give living testimony, then proof of the search's trial and failure must also be delivered with the petition. 

The next step involves the land registry.  If the person resided at the property this information will need to be gathered from there, a process which costs £150 per request.  I imagine we can afford this expense, but it's something to be taken under consideration in comparison to how successful the applicant thinks their petition will be.  These steps can take at least 2 years to complete in some cases.  It's plausible that Bill might have begun this process as one of his initiatives when he became the Director of the London Centre in 1997.  Also, when English Heritage puts a plaque up, it is incorporated into the structure, often involving cutting back into the brick work.  35 Harrington Gardens is a Grade II listed building, which means that we are not allowed to tamper with the exterior of the building.  To get a dispensation to do so is laborious, as only 3 are given per year.  South Kensington, being one of London's poshest areas, has a full history of notable personages.  Having checked with the council, the waiting list for a dispensation is 61 years.  That means that this petition would need to have been started some time before 1950.  Keith Moon wasn't even born until 1946.

Bill, this was one thorough April Fools joke, but we have now seen through it.
W. S. Gilbert's plaque is a recent addition to Harrington Gardens.  I can only imagine how long the neighbors waited for their dispensation.

-Claire (Elsie's plaque should be arriving one of these days)

01 April, 2011

Our Mystery Lodger About to ‘Come Out’

You will have noted that Claire was not at her desk for a week. You might not know where she was or why she was away. The answers are: she was in the USA; she went to Ithaca for the orientation of the summer and fall 2011 groups. The next question is - why wasn’t I doing orientation in the USA? You will also note that, unusually, I did not go on the Wales trip last Friday. The answer to these questions is bound up with an administrative detail that I can now reveal - at least in part. I needed to be here to finalise details of a celebration that will take place here next month.

It begins with an invitation. First, Claire will be looking for 6 work study volunteers to work a special event on Wednesday night April 20th. Second, a lucky 20 of you - names to be drawn from a hat*** - will be invited to the London Centre to a social gathering with speeches, etc.  Sounds boring, but it won’t be, because a piece of rock and roll history of swinging 1960's London will occur that night. The IC Board of Trustees, in cooperation with English Heritage, and with the encouragement of the Mayor’s Office for London and London 2012 [Cultural Olympiad], has agreed to the placing of a ‘blue plaque’ on the front of our building.  There will be press here, acquaintances of the person to be honoured, and representatives from the home campus including a reporter from The Ithacan.. The project is also part of London 2012, creating more opportunities for tourists to explore interesting parts of the city when not at the Games. [The week after, English Heritage will again be in the area unveiling a plaque to the Irish writer, Samuel Beckett, who lived penniless in a room on Wetherby Gardens in the 1930s.] For an example, see the plaque to W S Gilbert on number 39 Harrington Gardens.

What’s happening?  Kensington & Chelsea records reveal that a well known rock musician, who died in the 1970s, lived and worked at 35 Harrington Gardens between May 1965 and April 1968. He was even arrested here in 1966 after a police raid found illicit substances on the premises [you can read about it in the September 15th, 1966 edition of the Kensington Chronicle.] He was not the only such 1960s rocker to live nearby. Brian Jones, the first leader of the Rolling Stones, lived at number 15 Courtfield Road [one street north of us] in the 60s and John Lennon, his first wife, Cynthia, and  baby son, Julian, lived at 9 Emperor’s Gate [now demolished] just the other side of the Cromwell Road. A blue historical plaque, placed just over the window of Claire’s office will be unveiled at 5 pm on April 20th.  The Lady Mayor of the Royal Borough, Councillor Janice Roberts-Smith, will unveil the plaque, along with a member of the IC Board of Trustees and one of the deceased rocker’s fellow band members. I‘m not at liberty to tell you who, but I can give you a hint. Even I have heard of this band, although I don‘t own any of their music. CLUE: There are 3 surviving members of the band, one with the first initial ‘J’, one with the first initial ’P’ and the un-veiler has the initial ‘R‘. The first 6 letters of the name of one of our faculty members are also the first six letters of the musician’s name. THE FIRST TO GUESS THE IDENTITY OF OUR MYSTERY LODGER GETS A FIVER.

The deceased musician never married, but had a string of girlfriends during this period, one of whom, bore him a son in July 1967. She lived in number 35 for 13 months and raised their child here for the first 6 months of his life. [Unfortunately much like Cynthia Lennon who came upon John bunked down with Yoko Ono in their Surrey mansion in 1967, our hero (?), like a true rock star, was something of a philanderer who was often found with his trousers around his ankles. She left him and went back to her native Germany where she raised her son and became good friends with Astrid Kirchherr, the 5th Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe’s fiance.]

The highlight of the evening from my perspective is that the woman will do a mini walking tour of the building explaining the layout of the rooms in her period of residence. So on April 20th, we will know where the master bedroom was [was it room 5, 4, 2??] where the music rooms were, and where the parties were held [has to be the common room].

Hope you’re one of the 20.

***NB. Attendance at a play or musical event, backstage tour etc., takes precedence over the event.

-Bill
Could it be any of the well-known artists shown here?