LONDON – After a long night, I slept in until 7:30 in the morning and got up and had breakfast with fewer people than normal.
Only four of us were at breakfast this morning, including University of Central Oklahoma alumnus Leroy Coffman, student Anthony Nguyen and professor David Chapman. It was rather nice to not have all the commotion.
After breakfast, Coffman, Chapman and I left for church at 9:45 a.m. and were off to Westminster Abby for a sung Eucharist at 11:15, which was amazing.
The church is right in the heart of London and is a magnificent piece of engineering, art and the story of the ministry of the Christian church.
I joked with Champan before we got there to church stating that saints sit on the front row and sinners in the back, but I underestimated God’s sense of humor.
When we arrived at the north entrance Coffman and the rest of us were allowed in the back door because he was using a cane. We were directed through the sanctuary right to the first row only two feet from the altar.
God somehow enjoyed my joke more than I did, but it turned out to be an amazing service.
During the service, my eyes kept wandering around the room looking at the masonry work and the stained glass letting beams of light through the painted images of Jesus and the disciples.
When signing the words, “Christ opened wide life’s gate: he lives, who died; he reigns on high,” I looked up again to see the image of Jesus in the stained glass, only to be reminded of the love he has given us.
It made me stop and think for all he has blessed me with.
The service was only an hour and a half, so we headed back on the London Underground to The Boot to have lunch, which I heard they were having pot roast.
I had been craving it all week and finally got some, despite everybody giving me a hard time for wanting it so badly. While there we also listened to many great classic rock and other types of music on the jukebox.
We got back to the hotel around 3 p.m. and I got to work again on interviews and transcribing notes but was able to take a short 15-minute nap, which was something I needed.
I was not hungry then from my big meal at lunch, so Leroy and I headed back to Westminster Abbey for an organ performance.
While standing in a long line, we began talking to Sue Schaffer, a resident of Portland Organ, who was in London for vacation. She had a particular interest in the organ along with her mother being an organist.
The three of us quickly began chatting about everything and anything before we went into the nave in front of where the ornate organ was being played.
Pieces from the Baroque period where from Gloria in Excelsis, which was an amazing arrangement accompanied by sung words between pieces. The three of us enjoyed it.
Afterward, Schaffer insisted we meet up again this week and see another show; hopefully that happens.
Once finished at Westminster Abbey, Leroy and I went around the area of Parliament, seeing the sites and the Thames River, before heading off to Gordon’s Wine Bar.
We arrived at a literal hole in the ground that looked like an old wine cellar. The stairs were narrow, and the atmosphere reminded me the old world. It was amazing.
The wine and cheese were also rather inexpensive, and we had a great time there before heading back home. There was also an amazing week.
But, we went the wrong way on the Underground, but quickly made the change and got home before heading off to bed.
Back to work, day eight
Nothing exciting at breakfast this morning, but it was a long day ahead for us all with a trip back to the area of the Olympic park, so we headed off at 9 in the morning.
The Underground was especially busy today with the Monday morning commute. I have learned that early risers are not a thing here in London.
After arriving at Stratford, a few of us went off to the area of the Stratford Library to begin interviewing people in the center and on the street.
I took to the streets and began getting the stories of the locals, which included crime displacement and how the Olympic area has increased their home values but made everything more expensive.
We stayed there until 12:30 and I got a few good interviews before we had lunch. Our lunch was much better than the other team who had fried “bait” fish, nobody there enjoyed them.
“It was terrible,” Chapman said.
After lunch, we headed to a tour at HereEast in the Olympic park area which was the location of the former broadcast center for the Olympics.
Now the area is a mix of modern offices, the sports division of British Telecom and an awesome co-working space that is a large-scale version of Vault 405 in downtown Edmond.
Our tour was led by Sara Carthy, the executive director of HereEast, who showed us the ins and outs, stating that this is the new downtown London.
“This area is completely different than Central London,” she said. “It is the new central London.”
My feet were beginning to feel tired at the end of our tour and it was nice to finally head back to the hotel before dinner.
Coffman and I went for a quick dinner at Old Amalfi, which was a great old-school Italian restaurant before I had an interview pop up.
On Saturday we had met with a local councilman who told us about an individual who would be a great source about the King’s Cross area. I had emailed Michael Parkes but was not expecting a quick response, but he responded during dinner.
We quickly rushed through dinner and I dropped Coffman off at the hotel, before trying to get onto the Piccadilly line. But, as I was rushing around I found out that there had been some incident and the trains were stopped.
So, I rushed around the area looking for a taxi, only to find an empty one two blocks away and was beginning to run behind.
The cab driver and I began talking on the way to my interview about crime and everything in between. He was a sensible man who said that property crime is nothing more than an incident number for the police.
He seemed to have a realistic view of life and a sensible one when it came to understanding crime in the area.
I arrived there with five minutes to spare and was greeted by a nice lady at the door who began talking to me about Parkes.
I had to cut her off and was there on time to be greeted by him.
We began our interview at 8:30 p.m. and delved right into the topic of development at the King’s Cross area and his more than 15 years of experience working in the area.
He was a man of great character and was beyond knowledgeable on the topic and began with the history of the area and moved into present-day times.
He was a member of the area planning commission and created community design plans that benefited not only the public sphere but also the private as well.
We talked for nearly two and a half hours over hot tea and chocolate wafer about the entire development and everything that was going on there.
He provided great insight into the area and gave me four books that he created during his early years working with King’s Cross. He barely let me have them as he said only his copies still existed, so I held onto them for dear life on the underground coming back.
On the way back, I was harassed by some young men who were apparently drunk and after a few stops, a woman got on who looked like she had been at a fancy event.
She opened up her bag and she had glittery shoes, so I had to ask her, and she said she was an opera singer. I began asking her all about the opera scene as I will be going to the Royal Opera House tomorrow night.
Though tomorrow will be one of the longest days so far.
Featured Image: UCO professor David Chapman talks with Sara Carthy, the executive director of HereEast, in front of a model of the Olympic Park.