Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 15- London

It's raining in London, shockingly enough.
After some fun with the Eurostar (please to be noting that there is
nothing comfortable or convenient about them!) yesterday, we arrived,
exhausted but full of nervous energy, into London-town. The tube here
is surprisingly easily navigable, and after a brief period of
lostness, we found our hotel and gratefully dropped our bags.
Dinner involved a bit of exploring until we ran into an amazing little
Turkish place. Hummus, lamb broth, and kebabs later, we were both full-
bellied, exhausted and utterly satisfied. That was easily in the top 3
meals we have eaten in Europe, and a soup, appetizer, and hearty
entree ran us £23- about $35.
Today, we are wandering in the rain not finding Picadilly Square and
waiting for the tea shop to open. We decided on Haymarket Hotel, a
shop called Brumus.
Of course, not having a map, we got lost on the way and stumbled
across Trafalgar Square, necessitating pictures and a bit of
wandering. The National Gallery there is free! but we didn't have time
before tea.
Brumus itself is set within a high-end hotel, complete with couches
which match the walls in the conservatory, where we ate. No, really,
the couches match the walls. I'm serious.
The teas were the best Earl and Lady Greys we've ever had. Perfect
blends between the acid fullness of the tea and the tang of the
bergamot. Absolutely amazing.
The food was good, although only the Desserts were truly impressive-
Babarian creams, peach cake, and raspberry tarts. We ended up chatting
with two American women who were meeting there for tea (one lives
here) for nearly 2 hours about various facets of our lives, and the
differences we've found in different parts of Europe and the States.
It was really one of the nicest afternoons we've spent so far.
We had to run back to the hotel for jackets before catching the tube
once more to Tower Hill and the Jack the Ripper tour- what, did you
really think Chris could come to London and not go on it?
We were worried we would miss it, but the tube is more efficient than
we thought. For £6 each, we listened to the tale of the Whitechapel
In the 1880's, London was only 1sq mile, and was surrounded by the
city of Westminster. The Ripper most likely lived in London and made
most if his kills in Westminster. Currently there are 100,000 people
in London, but at that point there were 600,000, and at least 50% of
women were or had been prostitutes.
The first victim was 42, and had been turned out from a doss house
(public sleeping space- most people were homeless) because she hadn't
yet made her amount (between tuppence and sixpence to sleep there) and
it was there that she met the Ripper. She was found by two market-men,
and had had her throat slashed so deeply as to show the spine.
The third and fourth victims were discovered the same night by a
gentleman driving home. The third was found with her skirts up and two
cuts to her throat, and is believed to have been dead so briefly that
the Ripper was disturbed in the kill- driving him to kill once more
that night. The fourth victim was found less than 10 minutes after the
beat cop had last walked through. She was significantly mutilated and
also had had her throat slashed. Ironically, she had been released
from police custody 30 minutes before.
The fifth, youngest and most gruesome victim, Mary, was murdered in
her own bedroom. She had also had her throat cut, so deeply that her
spine was cut, and numerous other wounds I won't describe. There was
no sign of struggle or sexual assault, and the cause of death for all
of them was strangulation. Consider for a moment that it takes 3-5
minutes to actually die from strangulation, and then in the case of
the 3rd victim, that means less than 5-6 minutes to complete all of
the cuts, remove half the kidney, and flee the scene. The 2nd victim,
the eldest victim at 48, was trying to get out of prostitution but was
found in a similar manner as the others.
A number if theories aboun regarding the identity of the killer, but
only one suspect has no alibi.

After the tour, we had a drink at the famous Ten Bells Pub, which has
been serving since 1753. We'd meant to eat there, but evidently they
no longer serve food, so Chris had an absinthe and I a Pimms before we
found a small pub. Amusingly, it's called s&m. Yes, I am once again
entirely serious.
We had some really good bangers and mash- sausage and mashed potatoes
and peas- before waddling slowly to the hotel and collapsing into bed.

The only real blasphemy is the refusal of joy. -"Jeffrey"

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