Monday, January 31, 2011

"Is it a world to hide virtues in?"

In 1600 Shakespeare completed the play "Twelfth Night, or What You Will."  The play was written at the request of the "Lord of Misrule" at the Inns of Court.  The Inns of Court is currently an embankment here in London where lots of law firms have chambers.  In Shakespeare's day The Inns of Court were basically schools where students wishing to practice law would go and live.  During the Christmas Holiday the students would take charge of the school and govern themselves, starting with Christmas and ending at Three Kings Day (The twelve days of Christmas).  Now imagine this sort of being like the early 17th century version of UConn's Spring Weekend, but instead of getting drunk and lighting cars on fire, students would get drunk and light carriages on fire (well not quite, but maybe, I like to picture they also all gathered in a parking lot or large field and drank, but maybe that's a 21st century sort of thing.  Oh, X Lot).  As I mentioned above, the students would elect or choose a leader, known as the Lord of Misrule.  The Lord of Misrule had a simple job.  It was his job to make sure the students had enough alcohol, food and activities to keep themselves busy during the holiday.  It was basically his job to make sure they had fun.  One year, an overly ambition Lord of Misrule rang Shakespeare on his mobile and said, "Hey Mr. Shakespeare, do you reackon you could write us a play about fun, pleasure, cakes, drinking, love and overall partying?"  Shakespeare replied, "Stop waisting my T-Mobile minutes, otherwise I'm going to keep having to top up at Roseberys and it is expensive to do that here in London, but yes, I'll write you a play."  (You may realize that I'm combining a story that is leading to a certain crucial realization of my travels here and my need to go top up my phone so that I can talk to people, as far as I know Shakespeare didn't have a mobile).  So, Shakespeare wrote what we know today as "Twelfth Night."  Now little did Shakespeare know at the time he wrote the play that it would be the first play that Stephen Pelletier would read during his time spend in London in the year 2011 (411 years later).
I picture this being the Lord of Misrule

The play "Twelfth Night" originates in fun.  It is about seizing the pleasures of life where ever we may  find them.  It is about enjoying life before we run out of whatever time we have.  The play represents the last party, the last good time before heading back into the grind.  As the "Twelfth Night" implies it is the last night of the holiday, the last day of The Lord of Misrule's reign.  My time here in Europe is flying by!  I'm already starting my fourth week and it isn't going any slower.  I'm on the brink of traveling to Scotland, Belgium, Paris, Netherlands, and Wales (and hopefully Dorset very soon).  There will be plenty of life to grasp before I go back to America and I intend to grasp all of it.  This adventure is by no means the last great adventure of my life, but it may be the last great adventure of my youth (or maybe the first of my adult life).  But, for what its worth, I'm happy to be here now.  I may in fact be the happiest I've ever been.  From now until the "twelfth night" of my adventure, I hope I can continue to say the same thing.
Trying to grasp the experience in a literal sense.  Unfortunately my arms were not long enough in this case.  I'll just stick to the figurative grasping. 
Me with a dolphin, it pretty much is what it is. 

Ok, now on to what I'm doing, enough with the philosophical jibber jabber.  Last time we saw our hero he was celebrating his flatmate's birthday and pondering the meaning of family and friendship amongst his fellow students.  Today we find him pondering his future upcoming adventures and his trip to Brighton.
Enjoying some reading in Brighton. 

So, last Saturday we all jumped on the train and headed to Brighton.  Brighton is a major port city in the UK.  We first visited the Royal Pavilion where King George IV spent most of his young life.  Queen Victoria even spent some time there.  The palace was unbelievable.  Because of the unique architecture (based on architecture from India) it is very difficult to up keep the palace (construction began in the 1780s) in Brighton.  Nevertheless, the inside of the palace is awe-inspiring.  The banquet hall was my favorite.  It seems like a pretty great place to hold some dinners with some of my favorite people (that's you guys!).    
It would be a bit awkward trying to have a conversation with someone on the other end.  I imagine long tables like these are what started cliques.

From the palace we went to the Brighton Pier, where we had world famous fish and chips (I also had mushy peas!).  Based on the pictures I am sure you can tell what I thought about fish and chips.


From there, we went to the shore.  We decided to touch the water.  Some of us touched it a bit more than others, me included.  I accidentally sort of jumped in, my feet were a bit wet after that.  It was nothing compared to the Narragansett Polar Plunges though.  After that we saw some of the shops and then headed back to London.
Ready for a small swim on such a warm and sunny day.

The rest of the weekend has been pretty relaxed.  On Sunday I went to Sainsbury's in Holborn Circus and bought a sandwich, an apple and some water and sat in a local park next to a church and ate.  It was the first time I had really taken to just sit and relax and think quietly.  I really appreciate my time doing that.  Not a bad Sunday ritual I guess.      

This morning I went to Cardinal Pole Secondary School with my district director from London Citizens, Sebastien, to have a talk with the students there.  Seb has been going there for the past three weeks and goes every week.  I'm going to do my best to go weekly with him!  We talk to the students in the class for about an hour and work with them on how they can make a positive impact in the community.  Today I worked with a very bright group of kids who I'm going to work on the TESCO campaign with! 

As exciting as it was to work with these students, it was quite humbling to see the condition of the school and the status of many of the children.  It reminded me a lot of when I would go into Willimantic when I was young for school exchanges.  The school in Hackney is one of the poorest in the city and it shows.  I saw two kids beating up another one, just to take his drum sticks.  Unfortunately there is nothing you can really do except hope that the staff can break it up.  Many of these students don't need to hear us lecture what it is like for these people to live with a wage under the living wage (7.85) because many of their parents make less than that, if they have parents for that matter.  Hopefully my work in the East Hartford Schools will help me manage these kids.  Although interestingly enough I had no problem getting their full attention; maybe it was the accent!

After that I had my first full english breakfast at a local diner near the school and then headed back here to the flat to write this.  In about five days I am going to be leaving for Scotland.  I'm sure I'll get in another post before then. 

I miss you all, and I hope you are all surviving the snow alright. 

From what I gather, Waggers is not quite to sure about all this snow, but I'm sure she is still happy! 
Picture taken by my dad...Waggers is usually one to travel off the beaten path, but not today.
 Mallory and Chocurua, modeling (yet again) in a sea of white.  (Picture compliment of Tom S. and Rosalind P.)



  1. When you are in England you should always paddle in the water:) It sounds like your study abroad experience is shaping up to be everything I hoped it would be for you.
    Love and Miss you,

  2. Hi Stephen,

    Wonderful update, yet again! Had lunch with your Dad at Pepe's Pizza today, it was great, but I think we both would have prefered dining with you at the fish and chip shop in Brighten.
    Hard to believe four weeks have gone by already, you certainly have made the best of your time there so far. Thanks as always for keeping us posted and let us share the experience with you. MORE SNOW on the way, so keep a look out for pictures updating you on the winter of 2011. We will exceed 60" of snow with the mess arriving tomorrow.

    Thanks again and keep living the dream!

    Tom S.

  3. Hi Stephen,
    Your blog reads more like "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" than a Shakespeare tale, but I could see the "Bard" enjoying your adventure as much as Mr. Clemens.

    It makes me very happy to read and see your joy in living this adventure to the fullest!

    By the way there are those that say there maybe some genetic links to the Lord of Misrule in our family!