I arrived in London yesterday evening, and immediately turned on my computer, thrilled to have a highspeed connection now at the Goodenough Club. AIM logged on automatically and within seconds I had a message, “Mom?”
Rachel and I IMed for a minute then decided to use Skype so we could talk. (I’d remembered to pack my tiny headset, though not sufficient business cards.) Soon after we started talking, about the tomato and bean harvestng that’s going on at home, Tom came online on AIM, Rachel told him to open Skype, and then “called” him. We had a conference call, London to Massachusetts to Iowa, easily and at no charge. Certainly a transformative technology. (And one I need to put to business use, too!)
NB: there is no charge for the basic Skype service we are using.
I’m back at the Goodenough Club, which provides accommodation for travelling academics and others at a reasonable cost. A number of our friends and colleagues have now stayed here, and I highly recommend it (and a visit to London, of course). I have a room on the second floor overlooking the private garden in the middle of Meckenburgh Square.
The Club is part of Goodenough College, which has a long tradition (under other names, I think) of welcoming graduate students from other countries, so a global perspective is very much part of its
characters. The location is perfect, not far south of King’s Cross Mainline Station yet on a quiet square with no through traffic. (Yes, two of the July bombs were near here.)
My first job in London, at what was then Blackwell Scientific, was on John Street, only a few blocks from here. And when T. S. Eliot was alive, Faber & Faber’s offices were at 24 Russell Square, an address I came to know well when I worked on the letters.
Until this year I always went back to my south London neighborhood and stayed with friends there. This is more convenient, and also a familiar part of London. One of the subeditors took me to a fish ‘n chip shop on Theobalds Road my first week at Blackwells, and it’s still there. (And at Goodenough I’ve got highspeed Internet, and Skype, too–definitely the best of old and new. There’s even wireless in the garden.)