London and environs, Part the first

By the time we arrived at Heathrow, it was about 6am my time and I was approaching 24 hours with no sleep. Somehow I managed to stumble through immigration and customs, insert my ATM card from back home into a magic money machine, today in pounds sterling, make my way via the tube to the train to a short cab ride to a confusing ye olde british inn. Whereupon, I called Longman to let them know that I was about, and to check on when I should show up in the morning. Whereupon I showered and was fast asleep within minutes.

The Addison Wesley Longman crowd are a lot of fun. I am going to miss working with them. Spending a couple of days working with them in Harlow, an authentic British "new town" (i.e., suburb from the '60s), about half an hour north of London was a pleasure. We talked Internet and interactive product and generally cheered each other on. It did feel somewhat strange that the company is now known as Addison-Wesley. The original Longman company goes way, way back. In the first building in which we met there was a picture presented to one of the Longmans of the last century by the villagers, upon his retirement. Ye Gods! AW, for what it's worth, was founded in the 1940s. Upstarts. Parvenus.

The first evening, and actually our only evening together, several us had a beer at the pub next to the sports centre in the new Longman building. There are lots of such buildings of varying ages in the area. This is the newest and nicest. It is right opposite the train station which is right opposite a Sixties concrete monstrosity which is (a) awful, or (b) an historical landmark that must never be torn down or (c) the former Longman headquarters). Most of us were in agreement that (a) and (c) were true, but apparently the architect's widow was on the radio a few weeks ago accusing Longman of being awful folks for wanting to tear it down. She was firmly in the (b) category.

Passport follies

The only problem with this early vacation interlude in the United Kingdom was the fact that when I went to pack Friday morning, so that I could check out of the hotel, so that I could drag my bags off to work and thence on to London, was that my passport had disappeared.

Had it been in my pocket still when I arrived? I tore my bags apart, generating genuine chaos where formerly there had been only artificial disorder. No passport. At work I phoned the police to make my report. Did I need to come down and fill out forms? No, they had the details and that was fine. So, I called the American Embassy in London and that got me voice mail hell, the gist of which was that I should show up with all the paperwork in the world and three photos and they could probably take care of me between 2pm and 4pm. They had morning hours, but I certainly wasn't going to cheat AWL because of my own carelessness.

And, in London a few hours later I was told that the passport had, indeed been found. It had apparently fallen out of my pocket while on the train to Harlow which ends up in Cambridge, which is where it now was. And that, was a nice ending (short the train to SevenOaks in Kent where I am staying with my friend rosemary in the car picking me up at the train stationRosemary Sassoon and her husband John) to a long day. Only good conversation between me and a trip to Cambridge on the morrow.

"What is the difference between the United Kingdom and Great Britain?" I asked. As near as I can tell, as fudged from the various, "I think this is it," explanations, Great Britain is Scotland, England, and Wales. Even Cornwall. The United Kingdom includes Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. The latter is sort of independent, with its own parliament.

[back] to the Preflight tests

[on] to the next stop, Cambridge

Europe '96 | Ivritype | My WELL pages

Europe '96 | Ivritype | My WELL pages

Page maintained by Ari Davidow, / Last revised 8/23/96.