1 July London Journal
3 July London Journal (AM Edition)

2 July London Journal

Did my jet lag efforts succeed?  Hard to say. My goal last night was seven solid hours of sleep; I got 6.5 hours of OK sleep. But I awoke feeling fine, not like my head was full of bees (the way I used to feel even after a trip to New York). So, I'd say it worked. I didn't lose a single day.

Through miracle of the Internet, I listed to NPR news this morning before I left for breakfast with my friend L. 

Talk about variable weather; it is 75 right now (at 3 in the afternoon), headed for 80 tomorrow, 81 Friday, and rain on Saturday(?!). One of the nice things about writing a reality based blog entry is you don't have to do transitions, or create a story, or even have a beginning, a middle and an end, metaphorically. Physically yes, metaphorically no.

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Maybe I'll use three dots like Herb Caen used to.

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A lot fewer posh people on the subway this morning, especially once I transferred from the Jubilee Line to the Central Line. More tats, fewer ties. My friend L, who has lived here for a decade, tells me the Jubilee Line exists mainly to take posh people from the West Side to their fantastically remunerative jobs at Canary Wharf (which I hope to see--the Wharf, no the posh people--time permitting). As I read the Times on the train this morning, I saw one of the all-time great headlines; some woman had decided not to enter politics because the political class here consists largely of "braying toffs." What an image.

Riding on the tube, looking at the map, I was (as an Anglophile) overwhelmed by all the familiar names. Neasden, the frequent butt of jokes in Private Eye, the British humour magazine I have subscribed to for more than three decades. West Ham, the home of a famous soccer team. I have a mental association with almost every stop we pass through. It is like visiting Southern California in the 40s and discovering there really are places named Anaheim, Asuza and Cucamunga (old joke from the Jack Benney radio program).

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Exit the tube at Holbrook, on the edge of Soho, to meet my friend L. We worked together at CMP and have maintained a lively correspondence by email since the last time we saw each other... 1992. I told him I was wearing a black beret, he told me he was wearing a gray cap. We would have recognized each other anyway. We're exactly the same... only older.  "If New York is the city that never sleeps, London is the one that goes to bed early and stays up late," he said, by way of explaining the fact that we had a 10-minute walk before we could find anything nicer than a fast-food restaurant that was open for breakfast. We ate at Boheme, which was quite lovely. Good food, quiet, handsome 19th century interior.
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I had planned on using my phone and  Google maps to get around, but while most of central London has 5 bars of service, there are strange gaps. L had me go into a newsagents and buy a "London A to Z" map, which cabbies used to use before GPS. It helped me on the 15 minute walk from Soho to the BBC building.

If you know me well, you know I listen to the BBC on a daily basis. Not the wimpy news stuff everyone listens to. I record comedies and dramas from the BBC website and listen to them on my iPhone. The idea of a studio tour was thrilling to me. Alas, you have to book in advance. But if you hang around, you can fill in if someone flakes. At 1 pm, someone did. Becky and Jamie took us around. It was a stone-cold gas. Not only that, but since I was in the building audience services took my phone call. Despite the fact that I do not have a permanent UK address, they put my on the list for the taping next Tuesday of Giles Brandreth and guests for the panel show Wordaholics. I might get a ticket! They also advised me to hang around in the Media Cafe' on Thursday night, because there is almost always a ticket or two available for News Quiz on the day of. It is worth it to me to hang around and hope.

We got a good look at the BBC newsroom, the largest newsroom in Europe (formerly the world until the Chinese built a bigger one). Two-hundred-fifty million people watch or hear BBC news a day; they want 500 million by 2020. Then we went to a television newsroom mock up, where they asked for volunteers to sit at the newsdesk and read off the prompter. Hands up! Who can guess what I did? Yes, I volunteered. Later in the tour, we went to a mock radio drama studio. Yup. Again. I did the announcer and played the butler in a Catherwood voice (Firesign fans, and my immediate family, will recognize the reference). I should have recorded it! We got quite a round of applause. What was I thinking! A great performance lost to the ages :-(

It is now 4:30. I need a nap, dinner, and a seat at the Haymarket Theater, where I will watch Harry Shearer perform in a play called Daytona.

Caricature
Do I really look like this? Street caricature

Prospero
Prospero and Ariel in front of BBC Broadcasting House

Plaque
BBC Plaque

News desk
Me at the "BBC TV news desk"

Montage
Me on the big collage monitor

Screen
Me on a another monitor