Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Bubba

It's just hit midnight in the United Kingdom.

Ladies and is an auspicious day.

The anniversary of the birth of one Gregory Allan Farnum, better known to me as Bubba.

Happy Birthday to my favourite big brother! (And I'm not only saying that because you're my only big brother...teehee.)

Hope Gregory and everyone else have a fabulous seventeenth of December!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Christmas Panto

So there's this thing in Britain come Christmastime. The "panto", or pantomime. These are absurdly silly plays/musicals based on very classic tales with elements of audience participation. The actors purposefully and explicitly talk to the audience, encouraging them to boo and cheer and yadda yadda. Oftentimes, the action will stop for the actors to call out greetings to various audience members. Candy will get thrown at the kids. Etc.

Farce is the agenda of the day. For the adults, sexual innuendo and satirical political commentary abound. For the young'uns...we find any excuse possible to sing "Let It Go" or whatever the trending thing of the day is.

Cue "Aladdin" (, with an absurd villain's "Mwahahahahahahahaha", a fabulous (by which I mean beyond stereotypically flaming) genie, a drag queen playing Aladdin's widowed mum, and "Defying Gravity" instead of "A Whole New World".

We laughed. We cried. We rolled our eyes.

My favourite part was definitely the evil vizier and Aladdin in a rendition of "We Can Do It" from "The Producers" before going lamp hunting.

These pantos are legitimately a massive part of Christmas in this country. They're an economy in and of themselves.

There are moments when this little island is still a complete and total mystery to me. And I love it.

Friday, December 12, 2014


I am spending Thursday and Friday in meeting-free bliss, happily hibernating post-Tour and pre-Holiday Flurry.

I really think we should all just hibernate for the next few months. Who's with me?

Monday, December 8, 2014

And off they fly!


That was quite the five days. 

I have just put most of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus into Heathrow, heading back to Jerusalem. A few have family in the country, so I escorted a couple to a bus toward Bath (a UK city I've yet to see myself!). 

They were fantastic. They were amazing. They made me cry. They made me laugh. 

We frolicked about London, with selfies at every Christmas tree we could find as well as Westminster, the Horse Guards, and the like. They squealed over squirrels, grass, and how cold it was. They oohed and aahed at the British Museum. 

They sang live on BBC Newsnight. They recorded backup vocals for Duran Duran (no, seriously). They gave concerts at the Aldwych West End Theatre and in Oxford. they are off. And I'm riding the Tube back to central London without getting 25 teenagers on and off it all together. I'm not really quite sure what to do with myself. ;)

Safe flight, my dears! Well done taking London by storm. 

(Photos to follow once the good ones from our actual photographers are processed.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Jerusalem Youth Chorus takes London

They're coming; they're really coming!

100 kosher chocolate chip cookies in hand, I am off to Heathrow to collect the Israeli and Palestinian singers of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus. 

It's been a wild delays and mistaken coach pickup times and volunteer dropouts. But all is well, and the Chorus is flying toward this lovely island now. 

So incredibly excited!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Celebrations

Britain doesn't really do Thanksgiving. Though, rather absurdly, it does now do Black Friday. (Yes, really. Yes, I know.)

Thursday saw me happily ensconced in Norwich, lecturing on the hydro cycle. Both the workshop seminar with the MSc students and the public lecture-turned-three-hour-conversation went very well. 
And then...I got to go stay with Maestro. The family I nannied for when I lived in Norwich still very happily take me in. Several of our mutual American friends came over and we served the full works. (Okay. My pronoun use is rather unjust here. They served the works. I ate and amused the manlet.)

I'm now heading home from the second of my Thanksgiving celebrations, this one significantly more dramatic: 100 Marshall Scholars and a potluck. Always a wonderful evening. Always totally exhausting for those few of us who have to set and clean up. But worth it!

This year, we added some delightful substance - Saturday afternoon, a diverse group of current and alumni Marshall Scholars shared some of their research. It was a great chance for interesting topics and learning, and also gave the new Scholars a chance to hear about the kinds of initiatives they can get involved with in Britain and the wide range of stuff going on in our community. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Edinburgh Graduation

The University of East Anglia holds most of their Congregation (graduation) ceremonies the July following your programme. With a dissertation handed in at the end of August, this makes it nearly a year before receiving your degree. Summer is certainly better weather, and perhaps it makes it slightly easier/more sensible for family to come. But the ceremonies are held on a Mayhap not.
In any case, I didn't make it to UEA's Congregation. Most of my mates weren't coming back for it, and I had been in Norwich just a few weeks prior for a conference. 
The University of Edinburgh, however, holds Graduation in November, just a few weeks after final marks are announced. Still on a weekday (seriously, who graduates on a Tuesday?), but one that it was easy for me to pop up for. So there I was, happily back in Scotland's capital with many of my coursemates. Hugs and squeals and too many selfies all around. 
Fun fact - an alum of the uni took the university's insignia on some nice felt into space with them. The fabric is now sewn back in to the Chancellor's graduation cap, which he taps on our heads as we walk across the stage. degree was conferred by a "hybrid medieval space bonnet", as Sir Timothy puts it. Grand fun.

I was back in London for a quick stopover and catch-up dinner with Effy - she's had a proper three days of work in the London office now! And now I'm on my way to Norwich for some lectures on the hydro cycle and some Thanksgiving celebrations with Maestro and family.