A Quick Trip to England

This trip didn't give me much time for anything but work, and if you want to know more about my work, you should check out the WILMA website. I did get a little free time - not enough at any one time to merit day-by-day reporting - so I've just jotted down a few impressions.

I had a chance to take in a 3-D movie at the big IMAX theatre near the London Eye (the big ferris wheel on the south side of the Thames) and was pleasantly surprised at the clarity of the picture and sharpness of the 3-D effects. Patrons must wear large 3-D spectacles to appreciate the film; they fit easily over standard eyeglasses and reasonably well over my own heavy-duty optics. Alas, the film, CyberWorld, is merely a hodgepodge of short 3-D animated works from various sources, with some connecting material that looks like rejected sequences from the Tomb Raider video game. While I felt I got my money's worth just from the Simpson's segment (part of one of their Halloween episodes), I don't think many other people would. The trailers for an upcoming undersea live-action film and an animation festival, both in 3-D, were quite impressive, so I have hopes that the content quality will soon rise to the level of the technology.

On my last day in London I took a stroll around St. James's, one of my favorite parts of the city (that's Bustopher Jones's neighborhood for all you Cats fans). It's a neighborhood where cheese is still "monged" rather than merely sold, and I stopped into Paxton & Whitfield cheesemongers to pick up some particularly scary cheese. Not for myself, of course: my cheese consumption tends to be limited to sliced varieties melted over burgers or layered in sandwiches. But I sometimes bring back something more exotic for my local cheese snobs, and this time I procured (hey, if they mong cheese, I can procure it) a small , smelly lump of goat origin wrapped in old leaves. I'm tempted to say old rotten leaves, but I'm sure the proper term is "cured." The last time I saw it, my local cheese snob was gingerly unwrapping the leaves and peering timidly at the interior, which was at least as repellent to my sensibilities as anything in the film Hannibal.

Of course, I can't go to St. James's without buying something for myself, and since I lost my hat in Oxford (a side-effect of my work that even my business page cannot explain), I crossed the street from Paxton and Whitfield and entered Bates Hat Shop. Churchill, F. Roosevelt, and Stalin all bought hats here, so this must be the place for someone in the leadership business to shop!

My preference is for crushable felt, a fabric that tolerates being jammed into a computer case or other non-hat-shaped container for days at a time and returns to its original shape when finally released. The problem with crushable felt is, it's new. Bates Hat Shop does not embrace newness. They specialize (excuse me, "specialise") in the same hats that they were selling when Churchill & Co. stopped by.

My inquiry about crushable felt was received with a moment of polite bemusement followed by a resourceful answer: "we've nothing quite like that, sir, but perhaps you'd be interested in one of these hats that come with their own sturdy carrying cases? We also have a traveller's hat which comes in its own tin." The cases were small enough to meet the airlines' carry-on restrictions and strong enough to withstand their baggage handlers, but they didn't address my need to save space by jamming the hat into available suitcase space of unpredictable shape. And as for the hat-in-a-tin, well, frankly, I prefer my hats fresh or frozen.