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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Surfing Thru London - Like Surfing The Net - You Never Know Where It Leads You

My day with Colin Firth - sort of.

London has over 2000 years of recorded history - layered on top of each other. When one opens the front door - you never know where you will end up. 

Yesterday - Tuesday - my plan was to go to the London Motorcycle Museum - a collection of about 200 British cycle and scooters.

First - one could stop by their favorite pub for a snack or a drink. Pub is short for "public room" - in comparison to a private room or club. In the old days - commoners populated the pubs and upper class went to private clubs - they still do. British love their class systems it seems - at least the upper class do.

Marlborough Arms - our favorite public house

At the pub you find out that the motorcycle museum is only open from Friday to Monday - it will have to wait - and you change course and decide to visit the National Army Museum.

The Motorcycle Museum will have to wait until next week.

England has fought in tons of wars from Waterloo to the Boer Wars - which to an American could just as well be "The Borer Wars." Admission is free - and you get to see a lot of red army uniforms - no wonder they lost so many wars - they are easy targets.


One of the most valuable pieces of military equipment were the Mack Trucks that were sent over during the Lend-Lease program from Allentown Pennsylvania.

When the British beat Napoleon at Waterloo in Belgium - they didn't capture the little general but they did capture his horse. The horse's skeleton ended up in the Army Museum.

Right next to the Army Museum is the Royal Hospital for the Chelsea Pensioners. It has been continuously operating for 33o years. Soldiers that fought in the American Revolution spent their final years talking about how they left America because they had more important things to do.

The Chelseas pensioners have a beautiful campus including this cute little clubhouse on the bowling green. No matter how big a man's home is - he always needs a Man Cave.

The Chelsea Pensioners directed me to a special spot about 3 blocks away from the hospital that they thought I would like.

On this spot - 100 Americans were killed by a V-1 Buzz Bomb. Germany launched 10,000 V-1's from the mainland trying to kill Londoners. The bombs were unmanned unguided missiles. They flew at 350 MPH - and were launched on mainland Europe. They were steered by gyroscopes and the engines were set to go only a certain distance - then the engine stopped and the bomb fell - dropping 2000 pounds of TNT randomly in London. They were built to cause terror - not hit a specific war target. This V-1 was the most successful one. It killed about 100 Americans. No other V-1 was that lucky. This was 1944 - near the end of the war. I was July 3nd - after D-Day. The Brits resorted to many attempts to knock them down like - putting up balloons with long cables to snag the wings of the buzz bombs with 250 being  knocked down that way - shooting at them in anti-aircraft guns - even flying next to them with fast planes to flip their wings over and off course. Of the 10,000 launched - 2500 made it England.

Just across the street from the V-1 plaque on the sidewalk - I saw a big Olympic sign on the building. I thought it was some kind of headquarters for the Olympics. There were a lot of fancy cars and limos outside - surely someone important must be inside. It turns out - it was the Garden House School - a very exclusive private primary school. The limos were England's upper crust version of soccer moms. There were a lot of nice looking young  mommies waiting for their kids. The Olympic sign was a school project.

Colin Firth sends his kids to that school and picks them up himself. He is supposed to be a real party guy. He has starred in many movies and recently won an Oscar for "The Kings Speech." One of my favorite movies that he was in is called "Fever Pitch."

So you can see - a walk through London will take you on all sorts of tangents - just like when you are web surfing. I left out a few other points of interest - like a neat electric bike - and some beautiful lawn tennis courts right in the middle of town. But you get the idea -the next 5 weeks and the Olympics are going to be some interesting times - with some great pictures and stories. Everyone speaks English but sometimes you still can't understand them.

Here is a video of a German V-1 Buzz Bomb. Some experts says that if Germany had just a few more months - they could have designed rockets and bombs that would have reached America. Their technology was way ahead of ours. But we destroyed them before any of that happened. After the war - we rushed into Germany to claim their rockets - jets - and scientists. during the Cold War - German scientists captured by both American and Russia - build rockets for the space race. America downplayed the fact that Nazi Werner Von Braun led our scientists to the moon. 100 German scientist were "sneaked" into New Mexico to build our rockets. 

So - I went from Marlborough Arms pub to Motorcycle Museum to Army Museum to Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioners home to V-1 Buzz Bomb site to London Garden School to Colin Firth and back home again. Each day hold such a diverse adventures. In teaching - we called it "bird walking" - chain of conscience thought. When one gets off-topic who knows where it will lead.

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