Took the kids to London again yesterday, and went to the Science Museum. Naturally I gravitated to the airplane display, which includes a beautifully-stages collection of engines, and a number of planes, including a Hurricane and Spitfire.
From there we went to Harrods, which I think is something everyone should see, but which is far too rich a place for me to actually think about buying anything. These days, it seems to be an ingenious technology for attracting back from Asia and the Middle East a little of the money that we sent over to buy oil and flat screen TVs: I would have felt distinctly underdressed in my REI and Royal Robbins traveling kit, were I more clothes-conscious (or rather, mindfully contrarian about fashion).
Part of me thinks that places like Harrods are absurd and unnecessary in the grand scheme of things, and that they symbolize everything that’s going wrong with global capitalism: the incessant attention to luxury goods, the promotion of exclusivity, the encouragement of a particular variety of class consciousness summarized by David Brooks complimenting rich people on their intelligence and good looks.
At the same time, I can’t help but be impressed at how good they are at what they do. And maybe we really should have a place where someone can say, “But is this elevator pharonic enough? Are we sure we can’t dial the Egyptianness up to 12?”
We’ve got two more nights in Cambridge, then we’re leaving at the crack of dawn on Saturday. Fortunately, with the family all here I’ve been playing a combination of B&B owner, butler, dad, son, and tour guide, so I’m not really focused on the fact that I’m returning to California. Which is generally a good thing for me, i think. After three months here, I’m in no danger of going native– I could live here for decades and still think of myself as American or Californian, even if I started saying “Cheers” rather than “Thank you”– but I do feel comfortable here in a way that is expanding, and a little reassuring.
The challenge now will be to build on what I’ve done here, rather than have this be an interesting and restorative three months that represent a break in my regular life.