After five days in England there are a few sound conclusions one can draw from the experience. England is silly about its affection for Pointy Things. Lots and lots of pointy things live here. The entire history of the English is about Pointy Things in commemoration of other Pointy Things used to kill or threaten people who miss the Point that the British are better and you’d better not forget it.
Except when they’re not. And then you had better forget that, or they’ll get you with other kinds of pointy things.
I know all this because I informally designated myself Chief Minister of Pointy Things while on holiday here in England. Or do you call it the UK? Or Britain? They really can’t make up their minds over here either. So they make up all sorts of names for you to remember so very friendly people (as most of the Brits are) can smile at you and say, “That’s okay, we know you’re from America.”
But here’s a funny thing. In many ways the Brits are very much like Americans, or perhaps it is the other way around.
After all, over the pond, as they say, we call ourselves the United States of America and also Just America. The third option of what to call ourselves has yet to be decided because our country is still so young in comparison to every other civilized nation on earth we are still going by our nicknames. Like Yankees. And they sell a bunch of New York Yankees caps over here. It seems to be some sort of ironic, or iconic, statement about America as a whole.
But I was more interested in why the Brits so loved their Pointy Heritage. So it was with much interest that I went on a British Runabout looking for the full range of Pointy Things that could be found. There must be a rule in England that when anything is deemed important to the culture or the crown, it must be designated by a full compliment of Pointiness. Otherwise the thing is Pointless and must be consigned to the rule of modern architecture. There’s plenty of that in London, for sure. There are so many new buildings in London they almost hide all the Pointy Buildings in some areas. That must really disappoint people who prefer Pointy over Glassy things.
So we went running across the Tower of London Bridge on a Tuesday morning in April to experience even more Pointy things as part of our British experience.
Some history: back when there was not steel and glass and pointy metals to construct buildings, Britons actually had to rely on stone and mortar. So it was the height of elegance to refine this process to its absolute peak and create a Pointy thing (or a whole series of them) out of stone to show that you can afford to do just that.
None of this basic stacking of blocks one on top of the other like some group of peasants. That would not do for some cathedral or castle. Oh no! One must make it all sing with pointy syllables and architectural statements that rise to the sky like songs of the angels. But there are a still a few architects alive today that adhere to the Pointy Things Theory of building construction. You can see evidence of that fact in this photo of my girlfriend Sue, who happens to be an architect by training. She’s apparently running through a time warp because you can see the future behind her in a Pointy Modern building and the past ahead of her in the Pointy Promontories of the Tower of London across the Thames. Which is really old. The buildings and the river. Both are old.
And yes, that’s my fat finger f****** up this foto.
But back to my role of Minister of Pointy things. We’ve been traveling around England for days looking at delightfully pointy things. Blenheim. Windsor. Bath. And all Points In Between.
In time I may have my MBA in Pointy Things once I submit my thesis to the Booth School of Business, which is founded at the University of Chicago, one of the many Ivy League-like schools in America that also subscribe to the Pointy Things Theory of Everything. Just visit the campus. You’ll see.
Our research on Pointy Things was quite fulfilling during a 45-minute run across the Tower of London Bridge and back. There seemed to be quite a few other Ministers of Pointy Things otherwise known as tourists about doing the same sort of research. You can spot them by their squinty stares and Selfie Sticks.
In fact there was what appeared to be an entire convention of such Ministers when the Changing of the Guard took place at Buckingham Palace. A group of very stiff but dapper palace guards first appeared carrying serious military grade weapons with real bayonets. They were ushered into the palace grounds by a piping pack of pleasant pipers in similarly red uniforms. They they Marched Up and
Down the Square for a bit with their Pointy Weapons and Pointy Batons while thousands upon thousands of people pointed their cameras at them. So it must have been a very important occasion.
Personally I rather love Pointy Things so the silliness of England’s love for such pointed decorations is quite pleasing.
But we needed a break from pointiness today, so Sue and I strolled under a greening arch of sycamore trees to walk through Hyde Park on our way to the Natural History Museum.
There were Robins singing in the trees, and these were European Robins so we stopped to listen to their chortling little warbling sound in the trees. Then I pulled out my iPhone and the UK Birding app and played the Robin’s song right
back to him in his little robin tree. And that really seemed to piss Mr. Robin off. So he sang even more and swooped over our heads to plant his little Robin Butt in a garden hedgerow where he could grump and croak with the rest of them.
But that was not the end of our birding adventures. Because after walking along the lake while watching dozens of runners pass us by because the London Marathon is this very weekend, we made friends with a Mandarin Duck, a few Tufted Ducks, a series of Swans and even some Egyptian Geese.
Then things got really serious when there was a bustle in the hedgerow next to the Princess Diana fountain. A magpie had raided the nest of a blackbird, and both blackbird parents were throwing a fit as the bully magpie thrashed, killed and began to eat the helpless baby blackbird.
Ah yes, nature really is quite lovely. And that’s why we went to the Natural History Museum to look at the fossilized skeletons of ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs with their massive pointy heads and incredibly swimmy bodies. Because long before any of us human types were present on this earth the seas were ruled by monstrously sized dino-dolphins with massive, pointy teeth. If you got in their way they would eat you, and it was an eat-or-be-eaten world.
It was a very much more serious place than the one in which we live in today, where stiff looking marching guards in fuzzy black hats can march up and down the square and people take photos with selfie sticks because they really have no other place to go on a Wednesday in April except to a square in England where nothing can eat you except a taxi or an HGV. But that’s a story for another day. Another silly day, that is.