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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: August ::
Re: British Library
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1467  Monday 23 August 1999.

[1]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 Aug 1999 13:25:37 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 10.1447 Re: British Library

[2]     From:   Tom Dale Keever <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 Aug 1999 23:26:21 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Bloomsbury's "Mean Streets"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Friday, 20 Aug 1999 13:25:37 -0400
Subject: Re: British Library
Comment:        SHK 10.1447 Re: British Library

Stuart Manger is over-cautious. Of course, the area immediately
surrounding King's Cross isn't the most salubrious in London. However
the British Library barely impinges upon it and anybody scurrying off
in a taxi to cower in the Bonnington Hotel  will miss a number of the
city's  delights.  These include St Pancras station, St Pancras church,
Woburn Walk (where Yeats used to live), Russell Square (where T. S.
Eliot used to work) Dickens's house, large chunks of Bloomsbury, The
Lamb pub in Lamb's Conduit Street and many another resort. All remain
readily accessible to the strolling scholar, Bonnington-bound or
otherwise. I have found that a Norton facsimile, judiciously wielded,
will repel all but the most persistent creatures of the night.

T. Hawkes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Dale Keever <
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Date:           Friday, 20 Aug 1999 23:26:21 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Bloomsbury's "Mean Streets"

I advised SHAKSPER member Dorina Iancu to stay at the Bonnington if she
is looking for a good hotel near the British Library because that was
where the Barbican Center put me and the musicians I was managing when
we played there last December.  I was overjoyed when I realized we'd
been put right in the middle of one of my favorite neighborhoods in
London, an easy walk to Skoob and to Unwin, Rice & Coe for used book
browsing and close to the Holburn tube.  I've taken shows to play at The
Bloomsbury Theatre three times in years past, but was always housed a
couple tube stops away.  I have spent many happy hours strolling the
streets of Bloomsbury around the British Museum over the years when
visiting London for business and for pleasure.

What a shock to learn from a fellow SHAKSPERian that all that time I was
sitting on benches in Bloomsbury Park, browsing the shops on the little
streets south of the Museum, or pub-hopping around the University that I
was in mortal danger of violent crime and should have been cowering in
the back seat of a taxi cab!!

I have been hearing nonsense like that about my beloved Manhattan since
before I moved here twenty-five years ago and have learned to shrug it
off, but when someone tells me I should be afraid to walk around in
London after dark it's time for a serious reality check.  I don't have
the numbers in front of me at the moment, but the statistical
comparisons I have seen in the past make London seem one of the last
places I'd go if I wanted to be mugged.  Add to that the fact that the
Brits have never fallen for the ludicrous proposition that they are
somehow safer if every whacko among them can buy a pistol and you have a
place where any Yank should feel she can leave her urban terror at home
and relax for a change.

I do not mean that it is impossible to run into trouble in London.  It
is a city.  It has crime.  Of all my friends in London I do know one, a
theatre director, who was assaulted near his home in the wilds of
Brixton and another whose car, with two years worth of research, was
stolen near the British Museum.  My first friend's experience was a big
shock to all of us who know him precisely because such violent crime is
so unusual in London.  Car theft happens in the nicest suburban
communities.  There are parts of the East End I would probably stay out
of late at night, but the streets of central London and the West End are
about as treacherous as those of a medium-sized American college
town.    My advice to Dorina or anyone else staying at the Bonnington or
any other hotel in Bloomsbury is to stay alert and take appropriate
precautions, but please don't run up huge taxi bills for fear of walking
the streets in the evening.  The scariest thing you are likely to run
into around there is the ghost of Lytton Strachey.

Epilogue:

Harry Shearer has the best take on the connection between American
paranoia and TV viewing habits I have read yet.  It is in his recent
book "It's the Stupidity, Stupid," (New York: Ballantine, 1999) which,
if you must read one book on the Clinton mess, should be the one you
choose.  I worked, briefly, in local TV news here and know that what he
says is true:

. . .  We all have heard the lovely couplet that encapsulates these [
local news ] broadcasts' approach to reporting - "If it bleeds, it
leads" - but something deeper, by which I mean something shallower, is
going on here. The most desired target audience for TV advertisers is
young people, freshly married, starting a family, building brand
loyalties that they'll carry through the rest of their consuming lives.
These people, taking on frightening new burdens, finding themselves
responsible for the safety and tutelage of incomprehensible bundles of
joy and rage, are naturally programmed to be paranoid.  If you can't be
hypercautious when you've got a six-month-old relying on you, you should
go back to just having dogs and cats.  So local news attracts and holds
these desirable viewers by preying on their genetically coded paranoia -
"Your House Could Be a Deathtrap," "Your SUV Could Kill You," "The Food
the Government Doesn't Want You to Eat"

As a service to the folks who bring you Huggies:

A friend of mine, a resident of Washington, DC, started out in the news
business writing for Walter Cronkite.  She was a producer for
"Nightline," Brinkley, Charlie Rose.  In other words, she knows the
serious news business.  At the age of forty, she retired to her
comfortable Georgetown town house to be a mother.  When her son was six
months old, she called me one day.  "We've got to get out of here.  We
can't stay in DC and raise a child," she complained, her voice sharp
with an edge of fear.

"Let me ask you one question," I replied.  "Since you've been staying
home with him, have you been watching local news."

"Sure."

"Well, don't."

They're still in Washington and they're fine.  (pp. 46-47)

Cheers,
Tom Dale Keever
Hell's Kitchen, New York
 

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