The Tower of London
My New Zoo
“Something tells me it’s all happening at the zoo”
When I was in middle and high school I had this friend – nature-loving, animal-loving, outdoors-y, real hippie. One of her favorite things to do was to go to the zoo, and I on occasion would go with her. There are three different zoos in Western Washington, and I went with her to each several times until it finally dawned on me that I don’t like the zoo. Think about it. It’s packed with a bunch of smelly animals that don’t actually do anything but sit around emitting various odors. Once I realized the reason I was so bored when I went to the zoo was because I didn’t like the zoo, I fiercely resolved never to go there ever again. Yet somehow, I kept being dragged back to the zoo. Friends would have birthday parties there, friends from out of town would want to go. Each time I went to the zoo I swore it would be the last, but somehow I was always, always dragged back again.
I went, voluntarily and quite excitedly, to the Tower of London during my second week in the city. At that point, I really had no idea what the Tower was or what was in store for me. Turns out it is a medieval palace and prison. The oldest structure within The Tower is the White Tower, begun in 1078 by William I. The Tower also houses and displays the crown jewels, the first stop on my visit. All I can say is la dee da. I can’t figure out why anyone would want to wear that huge, gawdy jewelry anyway. After the crown jewels, I went on a tour by a beefeater. This sent me hurtling back through the sands of time to middle school when I learned all this information the first time. The various wives of Henry the VIIth, the reign of Elizabeth, the spectator sport that was beheading. Fairly gruesome and depressing if you ask me. Turns out I did know some English history at one point, I just repressed it with all the other horrid middle school memories. Now I can remember sitting in the classroom, listening to stories about Anne Boleyn and Henry’s other wives, thinking how terrible it would be to be one of them. He divorced or killed them because they could not produce a male heir, unaware that it is the male that determines the sex of the child. As a class we were appalled to hear that a crowd of people would gather to watch someone’s life be taken from them, and graphically at that. I would like to say that I can’t imagine watching a beheading except that I can. That’s the power of movies. As a civilized people we all know that beheading is wrong and cruel, and to watch any such thing would be barbaric. Unless we watch on a 40-foot screen with digital images and surround sound.
So I didn’t like the Tower of London, and I would not even be writing about it, but after leaving the Tower and firmly resolving never to go there ever again, I wound up back at the Tower of London. A friend of mine from back home, my boss from the music library, brought his young daughter to London for her spring break. The day we got together we were supposed to meet at the Tower, which they would have already seen that morning, and then off to see some other famous London landmark. But alas, time had run short for them and when I arrived the two of them were waiting patiently with three tickets in hand for the Tower of London. The experience was no better the second time except that it was warmer and I was amongst home friends. However, I do at this point heartily resolve to never, ever return to the Tower of London ever again.