Monday, 21 January 2008

The Fam

Yesterday I was walking with a bunch of British students to the Impy, and they were talking about their family trees, how some had traced theirs back to the landed gentry, where the money dried up, how this one sister married an escaped convict from Wales, and how, mostly, those whose families were Devon families had stayed in Devon.

I was struck with a complete sense off otherness, because none of their geneologies have to do with discovering who took a boat over and from where, what names were changed at Ellis Island or wherever it was they got off, which flood of immigrants it was that their family was a part of, or even which floods. It didn't have to do with speculating what the Old World, or the Homeland, or wherever used to be like, and wondering what crazy things your ancestors left behind that you could go back and discover. Instead, their geneology had to do with something like being part of a family that had lived in Bucks County since the dawn of time.

We had completely different understandings of where we came from, but I couldn't tell them this. It was one of those things you just sort of grok.

I've been thinking about families a lot recently. I entertained a whole slew of fatherly delusions of grandeur about raising my kids - specifically the family meeting in which I sat down and explained the burden of responsibility balanced out with an earned allowance, and also a new pet. Previously I've also had a delusion about making a variety of sandwiches before a child's first day at school so that he can pick which one he wants in his lunch.

I never said I was %100 sane.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

A Riddling Glass

Yesterday I saw the first panto of my life, and perhaps the only panto I will see ever again. I have to say I went in with low expectations, but interested in whatever it was, but furthermore, I went in after having pulled an all-nighter the night before. Bereft of sleep, bereft of computer (it died right after I had finished my essay. Holding out till the end, poor old guy), and bereft of any and all major deadlines and nagging responsibilities, I took my seat in the audience with the rest of the K'Nexers.

For one, there was a big title screen with lots of glitter and pink. That was almost expected. During the overture, there was a whole light show that went on featuring just this title screen, and then it was lifted into the wings and we never say it again. Yes!

What proceeded was an odd retelling of the tale of Cinderella, set in what I now understand as a pantomime set - neoclassical procenium (I think there's a term for it) with nested flats (which we didn't get to see change, those bastards) and a back drop, and everything was SUPER cartoony. Prince Charming's steward comes on bearing invitations to the ball, but she's a girl. Moreso, she's a black girl who can belt, but playing a man, but she had no pants. I mean she had a little hanging thing that draped her unmentionables, and some dance shorts, but she was wearing tights and heels. But she was a guy. I get that there's cross dressing in pantos, but this wasn't nearly enough. They were, for all intents and purposes, women who were refered to as men. I found it odd.

Then the Prince comes out - ALSO a woman. And they talk some more and then the Stewart goes to Cinderella's house.

At Cinderella's house, we meet Buttons, seen here in poor resolution ("poor resolution" is the ultimate fate of this panto). This is the only picture I could find of the production, but thankfully it has Buttons. Buttons, as it turns out, is the Scottish servant of Baron whatever his name is, also featured in the picture, who is Cinderella's dad, and he has a huge crush on Cinderella. He's also the protagonist, because while the whole Cinderella-Prince Charming thing happens, he's trying to work up the nerve to tell Cinderella that he loves her and ask her out on a date. I actually think he does it at some point, but the song gets interupted by the Fairy Godmother, so though something should come of it, nothing does. Also featured in this picture is Dumpling, a horse, who Buttons has been assigned to train, and who at one point wears makeup. While Buttons teaches the audience a song to cover the final set change, we learn that, in fact:

Dumpling likes his cornflakes.
Dumpling likes his hay.
[something something something something]
to get his five-a-day.

He can eat a carrot.
Parsnips are okay.
But give him some hay
And then he'll go NEIGH.

"NEIGH" must be read with flapping jowls as you shake your head back and forth, just so you know.

So, the central conflict is Buttons trying to ask Cinderella out, which is actually great, because Buttons is lovable, makes terrible puns, and finds most things incredibly funny - to the point where the actor's voice is hoarse by the end of the play. So there's a lot of the two annoying sisters, played by men, running around and making sexual advances despite the fact that they are, obviously, ugly and men. (Oh yes they are!)

That's another thing, the call and response. Many Americans don't know this, but in a pantomime there are specific audience cues for call and response. "Oh no isn't" or any conjugation thereof is one of them. "Oh no they aren't." Audience: "Oh yes they are!" If you get into it, it works to great effect.

Five stories are born from this panto: first, pantomimes, living up to their name ("imitating everything") rip off and plagiarize songs like nobodies business. This show borrowed heavily from bands like The Sweet (Ballroom Blitz) and The Scissor Sisters (I Don't Feel Like Dancin), and musicals such as Grease and Into the Woods. Specifically, they STOLE part of "You Are Not Alone" from Into the Woods, and actually tried to play it as serious, and I sat, appalled, pointing an accusing finger at the stage. But they do this for a reason, and that is, that whoever wrote this pantomime either a) isn't that good at writing music, or b) is so good at writing appropriately bad music that we don't know whether it's serious or not. The love song between the Prince and Cinderella goes like this:

"I'm looking at him
Looking at me
Looking at me
Looking at him..."

And we, the obnoxious foreigners in the back row, were the only ones cracking up because we didn't know whether it was supposed to be funny or not.

Second: Buttons, the two bad sisters, and Dumping are all in a scary woods to cover a set change, and Dumpling, who only speaks in whispers, says, through Buttons, that he wants to sing Zippidy Do Dah with everyone, complete with motions (apparently there are motions to Zippidy Do Dah), because Dumpling can't sing. "Why can't he sing?" someone asks. Buttons responds, "he's a little hoarse."

The whole audience groaned, particularly me, but I did it out of vast appreciation for the sheer awfulness of that pun, and I started a slow clap. More so, this slow clap spread to all out applause, and it actually took the actors by surprise. Or at least this is the story how I tell it, and how Ken who was sitting next to me tell it. I wonder sometimes whether I was the only slow clapper, but you know what it's my birthday, so I say I am.

Third: During the Dumpling song, Buttons called all the kids onstage to sing it. All of us K'Nexers, far too old to join them, immediately looked to Avery Baldwin, Wendy's youngest kid, and urged him to get onstage. Sadly, he declined utterly, and so we didn't get to live vicariously through him, although I think most of us desperately wanted to be on that stage singing along with Buttons.

Fourth: At one point the actors went into a seemingly improvised joke that made them laugh and break character. It may have been planned. A kid in the audience yelled "get on with it!" and that kid rocked.

Fifth: At the beginning they called out people's birthdays, and I was on the edge of my seat, cause my birthday was the next day (today), but they didn't call me, thankfully.

So the poor resolution of this panto: Buttons doesn't get Cinderella in the end. In fact, Cinderella and Prince Charming go off and have a big lesbian wedding. Buttons decides to abstain from marriage and go off and train Dumpling, and it sucks.

Then, after the curtain call (final story I guess), everyone comes on dressed for a curtain call number, the stepsisters as a bottle of champagne and a cake, and they have their number and all. Then, one of the stepsisters, a community actor for a long time, came out and started giving a speech about how the Northcott Theatre, the one on the Exeter Campus, was having its funding cut and may very well get plowed under. There were petitions we were suppposed to sign.

The problem is he was dressed like a cake and taking himself entirely seriously. I couldn't help smirking.

And also I'm twenty-one now. I've been doing a lot of wistful reading of T.S. Eliot and my Greek New Testament today, and there's that line in Corinthians about "when I was a man I put down childish things." I didn't look it up in Greek, but that's kind of how I'm feeling, like I need to saddle up and ride off into the sunset. The line after it, though, I quoted for a presentation this past week. "For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then we will see face to face." In Greek, the phrase "through a glass, darkly," uses the word "ainigmati" which is translated as "darkly," but really it's the word for "riddle." It's where we get the word enigma.

And now I can't help thinking of the pantomime, the imitation of everything, and seeing things through the riddling glass. Acknowledging the illusory pervading people's perceptions is kind of acknowledging that the world as people see it is a kind of pantomime, everything imitated. Which makes life kind of fun.

This is my birthday wisdom.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Act Two...?

In a three act work, that is...

The semester is one, long, work-infested week away from ending, but then freedom, lovely lovely freedom. I felt the need to reflect.

I have a wide variety of stories that I can tell about England. Most of them are chronicled, more or less right around when they happened, in this blog. I didn't notice it but the blog passed the 50-post mark a while ago. I think it's in the 60's now.

But my point is that I have a variety of stories. People unfamiliar with this blog can ask me, "how's England?" and I can say "It's great. I saw a marathon production of the Histories," or "I went to Scotland," or "I attached a giant rubber penis to a woman and put her onstage outside." And they can say, "wow, tell us more." And I can. And while I'm at this vantage, I've got another semester ahead of me, hopefully ripe with even more stories, and so at this demi-act-one-finale, this seeming zenith of my Exeter experience, I have a moment to sit and reflect on the stories as they've happened, and look ahead to the stories that have yet to. It's just not an experience I get to have very often. It makes me think of Three Tall Women by Edward Albee.

Also, I saw Charlie Wilson's War, and I was not impressed.

Thursday, 10 January 2008


So, Lysistrata goes up soon, and in acruing props and the like for the production, I have come into the possession, if only through borrowing, of a large rubber penis. It's at least four times as thick as a penis should be, and the veins look like they're about to pop off the thing. It sits in my bag everywhere I go, because wherever I go I'm usually coming from rehearsal, or going to rehearsal.

I don't know what to make of this giant rubber phallice. On the one hand, it's a funny prop. On the other hand, it's frightening to have around all the time. I keep wondering what's going to happen if someone steals my bag, or if my bag falls open and this huge rubber willy protrudes from it. Furthermore, despite my attempts, I cannot seem to find a cheap partner to it that's even half its size, which means the poor Spartan Herald is going to be stuck with the center of a novelty Willy Ring Toss game that looks like someone's big toe compared to this snickerdoodle of a cockfoster. Perhaps it's funnier like that though.

My adventures to try to find said mate took me, last month, into one of the stranger stores in Exeter: Ann Summers. Ann Summers is a chain of naughty lingerie shops, and each Ann Summers has a circle of the least see through lingerie, and on the inside of these racks are the racks of dildos. But they're like £40! When I went in there it was right before Christmas - I expected it to be a dirty sex shop, but no, Ann Summers is barely distinguishable from the Gap, except it's smaller. Furthermore, it was Christmas, so it was PACKED, and there I was in my big overcoat looking thoroughly sad because I couldn't get a dildo, so I looked perverted. Plus, some people had brought STROLLERS in. Strollers, with BABIES. I haven't been back.

Apparently there's a real life adult store somewhere further from the main drag in Exeter, but I'm a little afraid to go there. The poor Spartan Herland will just be left with a tiny £5 pecker.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

The Dirty Duck

Currently I am plagued with work, but this is just a personal note. England...

While in Stratford, after we were through seeing Henry V - a long but brilliant cap to the first part of the history cycle we saw - we walked quickly down the street from the Courtyard theater to The Dirty Duck. This is the bar that the RSC actors frequent, and it's usually hard to get a seat after the shows are done. We snuck in.

There was a terrible cover band that covered, among other things, "Wonderwall." It was bad. I had bad beer and one of the cover band artists came up to Ken, drunkity as drunk can be, and started talking to him.

But we saw the actor who played Richard II. I almost spoke to him about how amazing he was, but I didn't. I kind of wish I had.

Later this week I was rereading an old New Yorker article assigned to us while we were reading King Lear, about Ian McKellan. The course of the article came to performing in Stratford, and the 100 yard area that McKellan's life consisted of while he did it, mainly: his house in Stratford (he has one in London too), the Courtyard Theatre, and The Dirty Duck.

So I drank at the same pub as Ian McKellan. Suck on that, America.

And now, for your reading pleasure, a wee bit of Richard II:

Thus play I in one person many people,
And none contented: sometimes am I king;
Then treason makes me wish myself a beggar,
And so I am: then crushing penury 36
Persuades me I was better when a king;
Then am I king’d again; and by and by
Think that I am unking’d by Bolingbroke,
And straight am nothing: but whate’er I be, 40
Nor I nor any man that but man is
With nothing shall be pleas’d, till he be eas’d
With being nothing. Music do I hear? [Music.
Ha, ha! keep time. How sour sweet music is 44
When time is broke and no proportion kept!
So is it in the music of men’s lives.
And here have I the daintiness of ear
To check time broke in a disorder’d string; 48
But for the concord of my state and time
Had not an ear to hear my true time broke.
I wasted time, and now doth time waste me;

Yum yum yum

Monday, 7 January 2008

The Difference Between a Cow and a Bean

So, dear readers, I have ten minutes to write this post. How on earth can I sum up Richard II, Henry IV i, and ii, and Henry V done by the RSC in ten minutes?

Well, I'd like to draw your attention to another difference between America and England that one of my actresses in Lysistrata brought up today. She was worried about forgetting her lines, and I told her, "it's alright, forgetting is just not remembering until the right time." Then I said I thought Kurt Vonnegut said that. She responded that she loved how Americans quoted things, and not only could quote things, but knew who they were quoting. "It's a common thing for Americans to do," said this actress. I was skeptical - I think the Brits think this because Americans are incessantly quoting Monty Python, but I didn't say that there.

So what is the difference between American Shakespeare and British Shakespeare? Well, after these Histories, what I have to say is this:

Americans are quoting Shakespeare. The Brits live it.

Take, for instance, Richard II. Not, at first glance, the best play ever written. An effeminate but undisputed king wastes his power on silly wars, and gets usurped by a more practical, and older, duke. Richard decries the usurpation as a sin against the Lord, but gives up his throne relatively easily, avoiding bloodshed. He is processed through the street and people throw dirt on him, then some people decide to murder him, thinking the king wanted it. So they do, just as poor Richard was starting to understand exactly who he was and what he should be doing with his life. The blood of a now seemingly innocent, noble, and perfect king is on the new duke's hands, and, as Richard prophecies, the history of England is plagued with civil war.

But the production. The production was the best play there, it beat out Henry V. The entire set was made of rusted bronze, it echoed, it clanged - these people were like echoes of a bloody history dragged up before the audience. I thought of Kramer's Our Town. Richard has a whole scene after he has ripped off his flouncy red wig and handed off his crown to his enemy where a stream of dust falls on him from the ceiling. And then you find out people threw dust on him as he was marched through the city! It wasn't just the RSC being artsy, it's in the script! And this is what consistantly amazes me, the DETAIL with which the play was staged. There was that Peter Brook-esque "ritual" invovled, for sure, but just the simple sense of the whole thing, every knot, ever joint, every sinew of the play was there ... it was a sight. It wasn't perfect, but it was pretty darn good. I should HOPE I direct a play that well.

I'll tell more of these plays later. My ten minutes is actually long past.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

The Kingdom of Mist-Filled Valleys


Mmm. Lovely lovely Scotland.

But first: we began our lovely expedition to the North with a trip through Ryanair in Bristol. Due to subway complications, we arrived five minutes late to board, and Ryanair charged us FIFTY POUNDS in fines if we wanted to get on a later flight.

Cheapest air service around Europe my foot.

I had withdrawn most of my stipend to go on this trip as well, and Ken knew I was suffering a dearth of money. When they said fifty pounds per person, he turned to me and said "I'll understand if you don't want to go anymore."

"I don't know. It's up to you," I said, not wanting to be responsible for cancelling our vacation.

"Do you want to go or not?" Ken asked, frustrated.

Quick pause, quick decision: "Yes."

A good decision.

I couldn't tell much about Scotland from the air, but the rides as a whole, both there by air, then the trainride from Prestwick to Glasgow, and my future rides around Scotland, has led me to conclude that Scotland is the Kingdom of Mist-Filled Valleys, because you get all these mountains jutting up (they literally look like they were harshly forced out of the earth) and the valleys that are grey, and wet, but pretty. The hills follow suit with the mountains - sometimes you'll be going along a flat area and see this random hill - square almost, not round, with a plateau on top - just sitting in everyone's way, and you wonder whether it was man-made, or whether it was dropped there, or what. I came to the conclusion that this is what you build castles on.

But, before castles: Glasgow. Glasgow is a very dingy town. But also very eccentric. People have that city chip-on-their-shoulder, and it's certainly not the richest place in the world, but it has a huge mall, HUGE, and the most ecclectic collection of sights I've seen for a while. For instance, some of the first places we visited on our magical trip included the St. Mungo's Cathedral (which includes his tomb), St. Mungo's Musuem of Religious Life, a Necropolis (I knocked on a mosoleum and wished an empty room in another one Merry Christmas), a Science Museum shaped like an armadillo, a FAKE RIP OFF of the Millenium Bridge in London, a kilt store with very high prices, a kilt store with lower prices, a Pizza Hut with amazing prices, a tapas restaurant, and a twelve story movie theater decked with neon escalators. It was pretty sweet.

We stayed at a EuroHostel, and it was very nice. Quickly the joke developed between Ken and I: "You're a hostel!" a la Towely from South Park.

So day one: we got there and ate Pizza Hut. Day two: all the stuff listed above (except Pizza Hut. Though we passed it every time we went by the hostel). Day Three was Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is the better reason to go to Scotland. Glasgow is kind of the weird younger brother to Edinburgh's sheer awesomeness. They were setting up for Hogmannay (spelling?), their version of New Year', so some places were hard to get to or off limits. But we still valiantly explored the town.

(A tangent: Edinburgh is known as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and also has one of the best New Year's parties in Europe. They sell tickets, £100 each, I think. Ken and I settled for Glasgow Hogmannay.)

You know how I mentioned those hills? Well, Edinburgh has one in the center, except it really is more of a mountain...a cliff I guess is the best word. Crag, actually, I think is the best word. there's a CRAG in the middle of Edinburgh, and there's a CASTLE on top of it, which marks one end of the "Royal Mile," a road going from one part of the center of town to another. From Edinburgh Castle to the Queen's house. Queen of Scotland, that is, I think. Some royal house.

But Edinburgh Castle, maybe it has a name, but it's an incredibly defensible position. Years of Real Time Strategy games, as well as Turn Based Strategy games (from Castles II to Starcraft to Age of Empires II to Civilization II and III to Warcraft III) to appreciate the wonder of its defensibility. You have to go through so many courtyards just to get to the main gate, and that's the only way to get in the castle, unless you want to scale the crag. The ticket was worth the price. Inside we visited a prison where Americans were held during the American Revolution, a series of battlements and cannon-y areas, lots of places with a good view, several gift shops (where I purchased some post cards and a collection of Scottish Folk Tales, and more, later), and the keep, where they had situated not only the Crown Jewels of Scotland, but the Stone of Destiny, by which (or on which?) all Scottish kings had to be annointed. Or something like that. Something that wreaked of awesomeness.

From there we went to a Kilt Weaving museum, right outside the castle gates, which was really a prolonged gift shop. I saw a blue hoodie with Scottish designs on it, zip up and all. I boughted it, and am wearing it, and loveses it.

Down the Royal Mile we stopped at a "The Whiskey Experience," I think that's what it was called, which was a Whiskey Museum/connoseur's (spelling?) shop. They had whiskey ranging from £2.35 (a tiny sampler bottle) to £400 some pounds, which were kept under lock and key and only available on special request. Ken and I both bought a sampler bottle, actually Ken bought two - and of intense whiskey while I got a vial of Teacher's, which I could find in the KeyStore at Exeter - cause we're totally legal. I'm not the biggest whiskey fan, though. In fact that vial of Teacher's is STILL unfinished, there's probably about 90% of the original amount left in it. So that legality gets me nowhere! But I did drink whiskey in Scotland, even though I really don't like the stuff.

We stopped for a packed lunch. Actually, our lunches the entire trip were packed, because Ken had the ingenious idea of buying enough materials to make avocado-tomato-cheese-lettuce sandwiches for the duration of Scotland. So that was always our lunch, made on the spot by us. And now I lurve avacodoes muchly.

Next, we passed by the Scottish parliament, which you wouldn't know from any other hole in the wall on the Royal Mile if it weren't for the engraving nearby the gate, which is easily missable. Ken and I actually argued about which building was REALLY the Parliament. I get the sense that it might not be as high profile as the UK Parliament or the American Congress. Just a little. Which is why I like it.

Behind the Debatable Parliament was another science museum, which was similarly overpriced. And behind this were CRAGS. Big, unspoiled CRAGS, just sitting there with roads turning widely around them like they didn't dare offend the hills. Ken and I took a deep breath, and followed a number of other hikers through paths up the crags, and after about an hour (it seemed like) of walking up sometimes nearly verticle fake stairs, we got to see Edinburgh from above. Edinburgh, and the sea, and the rain clouds in the distance. And a monument on another hill on the other side of town. So off we went.

This turned out to be easier to reach. It was a monument to the Napoleanic Wars, to Nelson, and a fake set of Roman Architecture, for some reason. Also, though, at the top of the hill, not visible from far away, was a cairn set up to commemorate the establishment of a Scottish Parliament in 1998 or 1997 or something. A cairn. I didn't even know what one looked like till then, cairns had always just been a piece of vocabulary from Werewolf: The Apocalypse. They're these little torch burny places. Look one up on google, I guess.

From there we called it quits and went back to Glasgow and saw The Kite Runner. This movie reminded me why I like telling stories. Go see it if you can (I don't know if it's out in America yet). I haven't read the book, but I thought the movie was great.

Then we had New Years, which we spent, at first, tooling around the town doing not much of anything. We tried to see the Petrified Forrest but it was closed for New Years. We went to the Glasgow Art/Science Museum (I don't know the name really) but it kind of was simple. They were having a special exhibit on Kylie, a European pop star neither Ken nor I had ever heard of before, for instance. Then we had dinner and waited around for Hogmannay, watching Scottish TV in our room.

Scottish TV, the stuff not imported from the BBC (and even some of that) is sadly kind of pathetic. First we watched Graham Norton's quiz show about the pop culture stuff of 2007, which was funny at times (Graham Norton's a funny guy, sort of), but it was the worst quiz show ever. No one really paid attention to the buzzer, people kept shouting things out, they'd ring the buzzer without knowing the answer and then flounder once they had the floor, no one that was there actually CARED. Which made me not want to care, and if it weren't for Graham Norton's witty commentary I may have stopped caring. After that we saw a sketch show, which LITERALLY was entirely about football (all Americans, read as: soccer), and not even that, entirely about the Celtics as compared to the Rangers (the Celtics being the Catholic team, the Rangers being the Protestant one), but it looked like it was either a low budget professional production, or a high budget High School production. And the jokes could've been written by ... I'm not even going to continue the metaphor, they purely WEREN'T FUNNY. It wasn't even that I didn't get the source material, it just wasn't funny. Period.

Also, we saw a BBC news report that turned to the Scottish Local Area report, complete with a spinning graphic of Scotland for its title shot. This only proved that no matter how many ways you turn Scotland, it still looks weird.

Anyway, Hogmannay, Ken and I essentially spent it lined up outside of the Glasgow Square behind some iron fences, watching the concert. We didn't even have a clock - some fireworks went off, and we assumed it was 2008. But for that, it was incredibly fun.

The next two days consisted of trying to get to Inverness, Loch Ness, and Loch Lommond. We could get to none of them New Years day, cause most buses were closed, so we tooled around Glasgow and ended up seeing Paranoid Park, a Cannes-Winning film that, I thought, was a little silly.

The next day we went up to Inverness, and on the way got a great look at the Highlands. Remember what I said about the hills/crags? Imagine that, but with even fewer valleys, and that's the Highlands. Lots of sheep, too. Also, they have these cows called Highland Cows that are everywhere in the tourist culture: on postcards, on pins, there are even stuffed animal versions of Highland Cows. They're auburn with lots of shaggy hair, usually which hangs over their eyes. For some reason these cows are symbolic of Scotland. Same with West Highland Terriers, which I now find amazingly cute and adorable. Before I didn't really know about them.

But Inverness. Inverness is the Scottish equivalent of Princeton but without the University. Beautiful. Historic. Not much in the way of economic problems, although as you get ot the outskirts things get kind of sketchy. But it's still beautiful. It's also the site of Macbeth's Castle, although that castle was raized and a new one built in its place - on a crag looking over the river Ness, which runs from Loch Ness.

We couldn't catch a bus to Loch Ness, so we had to content ourselves with Inverness, which wasn't that bad. There're some great walking paths and parks, and we got to stand on the edge of an island on a delta of the river, and we saw these things jumping out of the water. First we thought they were seals, but they seemed to far inland. Then we hoped they were otters, but they didn't quite look it. Ken concluded they were fish, but they were too far away to really tell anything for sure. I've since decided they were Selkies. And no one can sway me otherwise.

Also, I recieved frantic news that my mom had written a frantic email to Wendy and Read, which said that I hadn't been responding to her text messages and so she thought I had lost my phone and was dead in a ditch somewhere. In reality, I had recieved no text messages. Orange and Verizon were being dumb and a bunch of our correspondacnes had been essentially lost in the networks. After my mom and I talked, she called Verizon and they worked it out. For the next few days, I recieved random formerly lost text messages at random times, inlcuding one that said something to the effect of "where are you? I need to talk to you. It's urgent" at five in the morning the night I got back to England.

After Inverness we went back to Glasgow and, the next day, checked out and headed back to Exeter. We spent the whole day traveling, and got back at 1:45 a.m.. The next day, we had to wake up for an 11 a.m. bus to Stratford, where Kenyon-Exeter had paid for tickets to a weekend marathon of Shakespeare's Histories. But, dear readers, more to come on that later.