Besides the stray airport thoughts I posted here last night, I got a lot out of my trip to Cambridge and London this week, a fair bit of which I am still digesting and will probably be thinking over for a while. This time, unlike my last trip south, I had my dad with me so there was a lot of instant reaction which you don’t really have on your own except if you talk to yourself. Over the next few days and weeks, there will be a fair few holiday posts but the first will be about mojo. Not the helper monkey Homer has in the Simpsons episode ‘Girly Edition’ – check out this clip of possibly the most surreal moment in that show – but the sense of being.
Now, the Urban Dictionary defines mojo in lots of different ways. The closest to what I feel about it is #2, which lists ‘Self-confidence, Self-assuredness. As in basis for belief in ones self in a situation.’ Sometimes I have significant levels of mojo, sometimes not. The Welsh have a similar word, hwyl, which isn’t in my Chambers Concise Dictionary, sadly, but according to the OED means ‘a stirring feeling of emotional motivation and energy’. In lots of cases, it gets the job done, whatever you call it.
Before I went on holiday, I didn’t have a lot of mojo. I was combining a lot of things all at once, including two jobs, this blog, my OU course, and felt tired both mentally and physically. Going away loosened me up a lot and, as discussed, gave me a lot of thoughts and places to go figuratively and literally. I felt that I got my mojo back too and could define it on Wednesday walking about the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. I felt contented and lighter again, just as I did at the end of last year and into this year. I even had a tune in my head, an earworm, really – I should be embarrassed to tell you that it was ’22’ by Taylor Swift but there are no such things as guilty pleasures. I don’t know why that as I hadn’t listened to it any time recently and I am a fair bit past the age of 22 (I like being 26 just fine but Taylor hasn’t made a song called that, yet).
Just being able to wander and be curious makes all the difference and luckily being away and the way we carried on made that possible. What shines out right now as the part I most enjoyed was seeing what not everyone else notices, little treats that probably millions of others have seen but maybe not appreciated. That started in Cambridge on Monday. We walked into Trinity College to the building where the Wren Library is. We stood behind some rope and managed to see a fair bit of the courtyard. It was particularly good that two students were sitting on a window ledge there talking through an equation about probability, using the beautiful, historic building for what it’s actually for. As we stepped back outside, we stopped in a nearby gateway (shown below) which had some initials and what appeared to be a date stamped across it at various points. On one side appeared SMP 1864 and SMP 1842, that last more faded, while the other side had more with ASP above other dates – 1825, 1829, 1833, 1838 and 1853 separate, above and in black while the others were red. From a quick Google search, I haven’t been able to find an answer as to what they refer to though I have e-mailed the Wren Library to see if they can provide any insight. I wonder whether it was an example of gang tags, like graffiti. The Trinity Young Team versus the King’s Posse, or whatever the mid-19th century equivalent would be. I am interested in mason’s marks and graffiti in castles and like to spot examples whenever possible. This will have an explanation and even while it might be dull and prosaic, it’s still a mystery solved.
The list of random stuff seen is far longer. After having lunch at the British Museum on Tuesday, I was in one of those particularly whimsical and thoughtful moods, not in any particular hurry and just enjoying where I was. Outside the British Museum, I saw a tree spraypainted with a smiley face on the trunk and a public notice from the Metropolitan Police where they warned burglars, footpads and vagabonds that premises were protected by something called ‘Smartwater’. What particularly tickled me about this notice was that beside the Met’s insignia at the bottom were the words ‘Total Policing’. Now, I didn’t think the polis needed a motto apart from ‘Semper Vigilio’ but ‘Total Policing’? I wonder if it is like Total Football, the Dutch version of the beautiful game come up with in the 70s that prized passing, flowing football and each player knowing their place and that of each of their teammates, only it’s more with Tasers, blue lights and just doing it to 110%, being the best police anywhere, leaving no shades of grey. No, probably not.
Without making any sort of political comment at all, honest, I will also share an advert in a bus shelter on Euston Road in London, about the proposed third runway at Heathrow Airport.
I walked along part of the Strand in London before turning up by Victoria Embankment Gardens, John Adam Street and the Adelphi. On the Strand I took a slight detour to see the Royal Courts of Justice, frequently seen on the telly, and which up close really looks like a cathedral. I knew that I had seen the exterior of a disused Underground station somewhere in the distance but not sure where. I walked a little way until I found the exterior of Strand Station on the Strand itself and the entrance and exit on a side street. Strand Station later became Aldwych Station, once on a branch of the Piccadilly line before eventually being closed in 1994. According to Wikipedia, it is often used for filming, with the track being kept to operational standard. There was a taped notice at one side of the building, saying that if access was required during office hours to phone a particular number but I was too chicken to do that so just looked from the outside. I thought about the thousands of people who must have used that station in its time and what must lie underneath, lying dormant and derelict, becoming history.
I like being able just to look, wonder and see what’s been left behind or shoved in a quiet corner. These are just a few of the examples of things that left me feeling inspired and once more a possessor of some mojo. I will share some more thoughts as I go on, including some museum reviews, inspirational quotes and more songs I sang or hummed along to along the way. It’s not all Taylor Swift, I promise.