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Uploaded:2013-02-05
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In which John discusses his first 24 hours in London including: interviews with the BBC, playing Elton John's piano, jetlag, improbable weather, Steven Gerrard's signature, the British Museum, the Rosetta Stone, many headless statues of women, YA book covers, Egyptian relics, statues, nonexistent stone artwork, the Globe theater, the Tower Bridge, and many other sites of London.
Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday.

Landed in London early in the morning, not even sure what day it was. These buses, by the way are not just a cliche, they're also actual public transport.

In a stunning turn of events, it's raining in England.

Got something to drink at Eat, because I'm a rebel and then came outside six minutes later and the sun was shining because England.

Went to the BBC to do a radio interview where they let me play Elton John's actual piano. God, I'm good at piano.

Dropped off my bags at a very nice hotel room, featuring a well dressed headless woman and pages from a children's book and there was a gift bag from Penguin containing warm English beer and Marmite, naturally, as well as a signed Steven Gerrard jersey which, not to brag, but I look great in.

Then I broke one of my rules of conquering jet lag, but only briefly.

No laying down!

Took a taxi to the Penguin offices where there is currently a very shmancy display for The Fault in out Stars and then went up to the tenth to enjoy the same view of London that Winston Churchill once had during the Second World War.

Then I went to the Guardian, which has extremely nice chairs and also a view of houseboats and canals that reminded me of Amsterdam. It was way too early to go to sleep so I headed over to the British Museum of old things and other miscellany with Tanya and Jodie.

I saw people seeing the Rosetta Stone and then after a long while I saw the Rosetta Stone itself with its tri-lingual declaration that helped us de-code Hieroglyphics. I saw sarcophagi and tomb lids and a giant bug and animals who guarded the king's apartment.

Then we headed over to the Greeks and the Romans where I saw this guy with his junk permanently attached to his toga who is better off than this guy who was missing both arms, his nose and his junk.

This monument featured several decapitated women and then we saw some more decapitated women and then yet more, which I guess is where YA book publishers got the idea for the headless girl cover trend.

This headless guy is punching a headless horse who in turn is kicking him in the balls.

Then I saw an Easter Island statue and non-decapitated Aztec women and a two headed turquoise snake and this thing and this thing which for some reason I found really fascinating so I looked at it for a long time from many different angles and I still couldn't figure out quite
what was going on, so I read the wall label where I learned that the guy was apparently about to stab himself in the penis, but more importantly I noticed that the thing I was looking at was currently on loan to the Royal Museum of Ontario and while I was reasonably jet-lagged, I was pretty sure that I was not in Toronto.

So in fact, Hank, I was not looking at a thing at all, I was looking at an incredibly well made photograph of a thing installed so perfectly that I'm not sure you can tell that you are looking at video of a photograph of a thing, rather than a video of an actual thing. Which calls into question the whole relevance of looking at actual things when virtual experiences are so compelling, but more on that in a second.

I had to keep walking so I met up with Hank and Katherine and CGP Grey, who took us immediately to a crypt, you know, as one does. That turns out also to be a cafe where you can dine atop the dead.

We walked through a train station with its indoor pigeons and then over this bridge where we learned that you can urinate in England for only five hundred pounds.

Here's a great view of London and here is, 'Do not attempt parkour or you will be impaled by many sticks!'

Then we saw cafe Nerd and a skate-park and Parliament back-lit in a downright Hogwartsian way and an American viking on a Harley scooter, and the London Eye which no, never, not as long as I live.

And then I ran into a Nerdfighter who actually works at the London Eye and she was lovely and begged me to go, but no, never, no!

Instead we walked on past the building heroically rebuilt after its destruction in a recent James Bond movie, past another Cafe Nerd and past Somerset House.

Then we headed to the Tate Modern and Hank pretended to have Heelys and we kept walking, past the Globe Theatre and all that remains of Winchester Palace to a pub where Hank reminded us that even after six years, it is still impossible to act natural when a camera is pointed at you.

When we left it was 4:45 pm and therefore very dark, but we kept walking. I found my book in a bookshop, and we saw London City Hall and stopped at last with this view of the Tower Bridge.

I found myself wondering how different it really was from a photograph. I didn't need to be here to see this, after all. Of course, the reason for our trip was, well, this, but after thirty hours awake and the optical illusion of the British Museum, I couldn't decide if sights really need seeing or if virtual experience has become enough, and I still can't decide.

So I made this virtual experience for you; let me know how real it feels.

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.