mr. zilla goes to town

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

this is serious, mum

Oxford street strand old bailey st pauls london city guildhall monument tower of london tower bridge globe theatre tate modern natural history museum, and refreshingly strange ale and odd food in a stinky pub for dinner in earls court. There are a lot of spots in central London with an almost apologetic tone to them:

"We had a really nice thing going just here with this lovely palace / wall / church built in 1082 and a few dead queens buried in it. We're quite terribly sorry, but we can't show it to you today as it all went up in tha blasted Great Fire in 1666, but we hope you'll like the replacement Christopher Wren whipped up for us after supper one evening in the late 17th Century. We're really quite fond of it now, and hope that in a couple of hundred years more it'll have a bit of history growing under the eaves."

But anyway: It's not like I'm not used to the new world order. I work four blocks from target of desire #1 (but not opportunity -- there are now permanent surface to missile launcher turrets on the roofs of nearby buildings), the white house, which was surrounded by triple fencelines out to the range of a good mortar when I first arrived. Flying out of Reagan National Airport there too -- where the northern flight path puts you directly over the Pentagon about 15 seconds after takeoff -- means there are regulations that should anyone in the passenger cabin so much as twitch on takeoff, the flight immediately grounds at nearby Dulles, presumably to put all passengers onboard an awaiting military transport to a two year caribbean holiday.

That's all well and good, but today in the London City Guildhall I came across a sign which indicated the city was at "Alert Level Bikini Black". I can't say I agree with this sauciness. What red blooded counter terror coordination boffin would want to be the one to lower the level back to 'cardigan'? Still, apparently when the intelligence agencies throw off the Clark Kent trousers and have a black vinyl dress-down tuesday, it means that small (presumably government-VIP) jets coming into London do so way off the regular Heathrow flightpath, screaming over the city at about a thousand feet, with armed and dangerous fighter jets hanging maybe 50 feet off each wing. There are people out there with more than chips on their shoulders, after all.

Those little VIP government jets are clearly more of an interesting target for the bad guys than a 747 chock full of peons. Sure. And it was probably only an exercise anyway. Riiight. I'll pretend I'm not going to think about that when I'm crawling skyward out of here sitting on 200 tons of jet fuel on Thursday. Off to Salisbury, Bath and Stonehenge tomorrow. I'll see if there's any druids with some jiggling beads to sell.

Say, isn't the luxurious escapism of travel grand? It frees the mind from the cares and worries of the world.

To paraphrase Jared: I think its time to go dip mine in some frothy amber.

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