Stazjia’s Commentary

Posts Tagged ‘london

Lewis Hamilton at brands.
Originally uploaded by Patrick Mayon

Lewis Hamilton, the Formula One racing driver, is immensely popular here in Britain. Even people who have no interest at all in F1 have heard of him and want him to continue to be successful. Yesterday he delighted his many fans by finally winning the Formula One Championship.

It was a close run thing. He needed to finish in the top five yesterday in the last race of the season – Interlagos, Brazil. Conditions were difficult with periods of heavy rain. Hamilton was driving carefully, he just couldn’t afford to make any mistakes. Coming into the final lap he was sixth. At this point Brazilian Felipe Massa had finished first and looked a sure thing to win the championship. In fact, he and his team started celebrating but their triumph was short lived as Hamilton overtook Timo Glock. Hamilton won the Championship by only one point but one point was all he needed.

Paula Radcliffe NYC Marathon 2007
Originally uploaded by Loren Kahle

Paula Radcliffemeanwhile, was back to winning ways in the New York City Marathon after her disappointment in this year’s Olympics. She’s always been a firm favourite with the British public and won Sports Personality of the Year in 2002. This was the year she moved up from running 5000 and 10,000 metres to the maraton. Her first was the London Marathon where she finished just outside the world record time. Six months later, in October 2002, she ran the Chicago Marathon and broke the World Record by one and a half minutes. She was awarded an honour by the Queen, the MBE (Member of the British Empire – OK, we don’t have an empire anymore but it still sounds good!) followed by Sports Personality of the Year.

Her marathon running career has been very successful except when it comes to the Olympics – maybe the event she would most like to win. In spite of these disappointments, she has bounced back and yesterday she won the New York City Marathon. She led the race from the start and finished 1 minute and 47 seconds ahead of Russian Ludmila Petrova.


Although they are moving out of the East End of London, Cockneys can still be found in and around the capital in a wide range of occupations. Some still eat jellied eels and pie and mash. There are even still pearly kings and queens.

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Queses Likely

Originally uploaded by Horn Of Fury

I went to London on Friday and came back yesterday (Monday). I always forget how much I dislike London till I go back. I don’t think I could ever live there again. I’m too used to the peace and quiet of a country town, people having time to smile and say good morning, going into stores and workers having time to exchange a few remarks. In London, people barely look at each other, let alone nod or speak.

As for the traffic…. well, in our small town we think think it’s a major traffic jam if there are 10 cars ahead of us at a junction! Of course, in bigger towns here in south-west England, there are traffic jams, pollution and busy people but not on the scale of London. Our closest cities are Bath, Bristol and Salisbury. Only Bristol is really big because it takes about 30 to 50 minutes to travel from the outskirts to the centre, depending on which way you come in and the traffic.

On the way home last night, there was a major accident on the motorway causing the police to close both carriageways. It was obviously very serious because the air ambulance came to take the casualties to hospital. It took 2 hours for the motorway to open. Luckily, I had a newspaper and a book to read but I was desperate to go to the toilet so we went into the next service station.

We got home very late but at least we arrived safely unlike the people involved in the accident so I don’t moan about the wait or long delay.

A typical full English breakfast with eggs, sausage, black pudding, tomato, baked beans.

A typical full English breakfast with eggs, sausage, black pudding, baked beans.

Yesterday I finished two new lenses. They started off as just one called Meet the English but the section on food got so long that I decided to put it in a lens of its own called English Food Explained.

In the second lens, I show pictures of traditional food like a ‘full English breakfast’, shepherd’s pie, toad in the hole and steamed treacle pudding with a bit of explanation. I also cover how we English eat now, particularly how we’ve taken to foreign food like ducks to water. I hope it’s interesting.

I thought Meet the English would be quite lighthearted but it didn’t work out like that. I start off lightly enough with ‘English Humour’ and even patriotism wasn’t too serious. When I got to English Passions Run High, I wrote about rioting and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Religion was so-so, but ‘The English and Alcohol’ got very serious with all the binge drinking that goes on here. I managed to end on a lighter note, though, with Sport.

It’s not as much fun as London Cockneys, that’s for sure.

Acrobatic artists perform on the memory tower in the National Stadium during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China.

Acrobatic artists perform on the memory tower in the National Stadium during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China.

I always feel sad when the Olympics are over. I’ve loved pretty much all of it except football and boxing but you can’t like every sport. Of course it’s great that Team GB exceeded all expectation for winning medals and came fourth in the medal table. They won 19 golds 13 silvers, and 15 bronzes giving a total of 47 medals in all. Now the focus shifts to improving on that total in the 2012 London Olympics.

Commentators are saying that the GB athletes arriving home today have no idea how wildly excited most people are about their achievements. They say it won’t really hit the athletes until they see the reactions to them. They are having a news conference at Heathrow then going home. There will be a celebration of their victories in October. I think the fact it’s being held in October indicates that the authorities didn’t expect anything like this number of medals and weren’t prepared for a large scale celebration.

Photo taken on Aug. 24, 2008 shows the eight-minute performance prepared by London, host city of the next Summer Olympic Games in 2012, at the National Stadium (Bird's Nest) in Beijing.

Photo taken on Aug. 24, 2008 shows the eight-minute performance prepared by London, host city of the next Summer Olympic Games in 2012, at the National Stadium (Bird's Nest) in Beijing.

It’s nice for it to be a happy surprise rather than another dismal disappointment although with a few notable exceptions, athletics wasn’t good for us. Is that because we are producing fewer outstanding athletes or that our training and coaching systems for athletics aren’t as good as they are for cycling, swimming, sailing and rowing? I can’t believe that we can produce outstanding performers in these sports but not in track and field. I am sure that there is going to be an inquest into why track and field athletes, by and large, failed to perform to the high standards set in other Olympic sports by British competitors.

Apparently, in swimming and cycling the selection process is ruthless. If an athlete isn’t improving, they are removed from the financed training program and their place given to someone who can improve and benefit from the program. This brings up another point – much as most people admire Paula Radcliffe for her guts and her outstanding achievements – why was she allowed to compete when she obviously hadn’t recovered from her stress fracture? She admitted she hadn’t been able to do the necessary training. Would any less famous athlete have been allowed into Team GB in those circumstances? I don’t think so and nor should they be. Her place could have been filled by another marathon runner who might have had no more chance of a medal but she could have gained valuable experience for the 2012 games.

I added pictures to the lens on Torquay and some quotations, pictures and a list of major characters to the one on Bleak House. I’ve done more work on the latest lens – St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

I’ve found some good You Tube videos for the St Paul’s lens. I haven’t used either of the two below but they are interesting too. The first one is obviously a propaganda film made during World War II but it does give a good impression of what it must have been like to suffer under those air raids.

London Can Take It! – One Night During the Blitz of World War II

Amazing Grace Sung by Christine Collister in St Paul’s Cathedral, London

I’ve started writing a very shortened account of my life on my Lensography. The first section deals with my restless, rootless childhood. I think one of the reasons I like writing about places in England is because my parents found it hard to settle in one place during our childhood. Find out how we went from Windsor to California by way of two London suburbs, Somerset and Devon, all before I was 16 years of age.

In the the next section of my life story, I tell more about my childhood and my parents’ stormy relationship. This is hard to write about, even so many years later. It feels disloyal because, even as children, we never spoke about it although some days we were very tired at school as we’d been woken up during the night.

I’ve quite surprised myself writing about all this because I’m usually an intensely private person. Some people have known me for years and still know very little about me. On the other hand, people I’m close to know all this stuff.


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