16 August, 2012

The Final Word

Having recently read one of the most well articulated valedictions I've ever come across, I hesitate to say goodbye in Jack's shadow. But needs must, and I am shortly to leave the London Center for a new job!  As semesters go by and students return to Ithaca (or go on to so many other parts of the world), I've taken to saying "Travel safely!" and "Come back soon!".  "Goodbye" is difficult to say and I admit that I avoid it.  Now it's my turn to go.  Though I'm not literally packing my bags and catching a plane, I'll be making a new tube journey each morning where I won't be greeting Bill upon arrival with "Guten Morgen!".  He won't ask me what kind of yogurt I'm eating, and I won't offer to make him tea that he will turn down because it's too early for tea (three years at the ICLC and I'm still not sure I understand what constitutes "too early for tea"). 

I think the laughter had something to do with fostering newborn kittens?
My initial feeling when I knew I would be leaving the ICLC (after the excitement of accepting a new job) was one of reflection.  I'll miss explaining colloquialisms which turn out not to be transatlantic.  While trying to explain what it means "to have kittens" I laughed that hardcore belly laugh which leaves you still aching a day later.  The same goes for the pants v. trousers issue.  Most of us remember the first time it was pointed out that Brits and Americans use the word pants differently.  I'll also miss the day Paul McCartney rocks up to 35 Harrington Gardens.  I've probably been too subtle in trying to engineer this, but I have no doubt I will be the first person Bill phones when Sir Paul does arrive.  And when he does, I can't wait to shake his hand!  

And then there's the overly sentimental issue- I'll miss Steve TenEyck's sabbatical in London in spring 2013.  I was one of Steve's first lighting design students in Ithaca.  We go so far back that I remember the master class he taught when he was invited from the job search to teach lighting design at IC.  Steve helped mentor me through my undergraduate education.  I would so love to audit his class next spring!  What do you think, Steve?  He won't be the first of my own IC professors doing a stint at the ICLC during my front office tenure.  I say in all seriousness that my social life had a hole in it until Greg Robbins took me mudlarking on the banks of the Thames.  Jack Hrkach got to spend a year here living in the roof garret of the ICLC, and I really miss the warmth of hearing his jazz music in the evening come subtly down the stairs of the flat and into the third floor hallway.

Kenneth is no less disapproving in a handmade blanket.

The fact that I keep coming up with more items for this list makes me realize how much I will miss about working at the London Center.  I have deep roots here, even though I'm the shortest serving of the current staff.  I look around the front office at all the knitting needles I need to take home, the post that Murray Woodfield has to collect, the stacks of photos from the 40th anniversary that I still haven't put away and the cardboard cutout of Kenneth Brannagh looking disapprovingly at me from the side of the fireplace.  I was welcomed 3 years ago into Elsie's family and I have made myself at home here.  The last staff member who left the ICLC was Fred, and he stayed for 38 years.  Months in advance of his last day he handed in to Bill his keys to the building, which Bill kindly gave back.  But on Fred's last day Bill reminded him that this was the actual day when he would need to turn in the keys.  Fred refused, and there was little conversation to be had about it.  I understand that Fred was expressing how he felt rather than interested in keeping the keys, and I wonder how I will feel in the same position as my day quickly approaches. 

While here I have loved meeting the visiting faculty who have come over.  I've loved climbing steep and wind-swept hills, doing my best not to speak my broken German in Paris and sneaking up on students to take awkward photos for the end of term slide show.  After all, documenting life around the London Center was part of my job.  And speaking of which, I'll miss this blog massively.  When Skint was turned into I See Elsie, I imagine Bill felt a small pang of loss.  Perhaps he was a little relieved, but he had been a driving force behind Skint for most of his time as Director.  Now I'm handing over the username and password of Elsie.  Aside from a creepy presence in the creaking basement floorboards and in the phone lines, this blog is Elsie's main incarnation.  She also discovered Facebook and Twitter, but this is where she was born.  Sarah and I created a test post one afternoon and we never looked back.  Now Elsie's a few years old and I'm already feeling the pangs of missing her.  Bill has been an unfalteringly good sport about being the subject of one facetious blog post after another.  This blog would be half the size it is without his patience.
The Fantastic Four?  I think so!

And finally, I'd like to thank Evie Blackburn for helping me get a foot in here in the first place.  Without her I might still be selling cake south of the river.  On to new adventures!


10 August, 2012

Bad News

Bill Sheasgreen: Claire, I have bad news.  You won't be able to interview me anymore.
Claire Mokrauer-Madden: What?  Why not?
BS: It has an awful lot to do with Paul McCartney.
CMM: I guess I could see that coming.  In what capacity does it have to do with him this time?
BS: I understand that you have been writing these interviews as a cheap ploy to get him to come to the London Center and make amends with me.  Is that true?
CMM: Yes.  It's completely true.  It's probably the only thing about these interviews that is true.
BS: Well, it leaves me feeling somewhat used.  I don't like that, and I want it to stop.
CMM: And this is the reason that I can't do anymore interviews?
BS: Yes.
CMM: But I'm writing this as an interview right now.
BS: And I want you to stop before this becomes too existential.
CMM: Ok, I'll agree to stop interviewing you, but would you answer a few questions before I sign off?
BS: Only if it will make the interview stop.
CMM: Deal.  Let's start with something general.  What do you like about working at the ICLC?
BS: The archaeology.  Hands down.
CMM: I knew that one would elicit an interesting response!  What do you mean by the archaeology?  The ICLC is a listed building, you shouldn't be digging it up!
BS: No, no, I'm not digging up the building itself!  I mean "archaeology" more metaphorically than that.  I have created one of "England's mountain green" in my office, built out of paper and old sandwiches.
CMM: That sounds pretty unappealing.
BS: To tell you the truth, I took my inspiration from Danny Boyle.  The Olympics have really gone to my head, and it shows in my office.
CMM: I don't see a problem with that, as long as you don't light a massive torch.
BS: Anyway, I've been digging through this mountain in search of pukka pads and memory sticks.  It's beena real adventure!
CMM: Any joy yet?
BS: I came across a bin in the mountain and I did find some memory sticks in it!  It's been a true success.
CMM: Congratulations!  I'm sure when you're in Rio for 2016 fake-mountain-scavenging-for-your-own-things will be an event and you'll be one of Canada's top competitors. 
BS: The real trick is to remember where you put the things you're looking for in the first place.  It really gives you a leg up in the competition. 
CMM: Giving away your strategy is pretty risky!  Good luck in the competition!  My next questions is, what will you do with the time that you used to spend at these interviews?
BS: I'll do what I've always done.  And since I've never actually been present at one of your interviews, it really won't interrupt my normal routine.
CMM: I'm glad to hear it.  One reason I never actually consulted you for these interviews is that you are often busy doing work, and I'm pretty good at guessing what you would say to the questions I ask.
BS: I'd like to point out that that is wildly incorrect.  Many of the answers you claim I give sound nothing like me and much more like you.
CMM: Nonetheless, in spirit I think I've gotten it pretty close.
BS: Are you kidding?  I have no attachment to plaid at all.  If I had really designed ICLC uniforms, they would have been a combination of white suits, black suits and denim.  I did some mock ups once on some penguin figurines.
CMM: In Liverpool?
BS: Why, yes!  How did you know?
CMM: Because the penguin you're standing next to in the is photo looks distinctly like Paul McCartney on the Abbey Road album cover.
BS: Yes!  They based their outfits for that cover on my design!  It was one of my proudest moments with the band!
CMM: Umm, according to Wikipedia their clothes were designed by Tommy Nutter.
BS: Yes, I was his silent partner down on Saville Row.  But tailoring was a crazy business, I had to get out of it.
CMM: So with that, I think I'll wrap this up.  Thank you so much for not taking time to answer my last few questions.  This has been as illuminating as ever.
BS: The pleasure has been mine.

08 August, 2012

Are We There Yet?

We are getting really close to arrival day, so I thought I would give an update on the state of affairs in the London Center.  Despite Elsie getting water in a few places that it shouldn't be, we are steadily getting ready.

Orientation packs are nearly ready.

Cora is cataloging library books.

Sarah is cleaning the carpets.

Bill is very busy and important.

Cora is cataloging more library books.

I'm keeping up with the news.

And Ruby has 90p in her belly.

All in all, I'd say we're pretty ready to start the fall term.


06 August, 2012

One Year Later... (part II)

Here are more thoughts one year down the line. There's continued emphasis on the love affair that students have with London, which so many students are the happiest victims of. 

Melissa Frisco, ICLC alum from Fall 201, says this:
One year ago, I was so incredibly excited to get to London.  I had been there years before for a week and fell in love.  Now, one year later, I'm totally enamored.  I think I changed more in those four months than in the previous twenty-one years of my life.  I found my home - the place where I felt so comfortable and happy.  Now, I am fighting tooth and nail to get back there and settle down.  After my plans to obtain Italian (and therefore EU) citizenship fell through (silly Grandpa getting naturalised before my dad was born), I had to look for different paths.  There is still, of course, the chance to marry a hot Brit (as I was nominated most likely to do by Elsie herself), but now I'm looking into a bit more plausible approach - attending graduate or possibly law school in London.  No one ever said achieving your dreams was easy (or cheap), right?!  I loved everything about living in London - our West Ken neighborhood, the ICLC of course (and all of its amazing staff), my internship, my classes, the wonderful friends I made (British and American), and the opportunity to travel to six other countries.  I learned so much about the city, all sorts of different cultures, and myself.  I love telling people all these facts about London and England that I now know, some more random than others, and most learned from the wonderful Bill Sheasgreen.  I will see you again soon, London; you can count on it.
Melissa Frisco, the photo-bomber herself!