Thursday, February 26, 2009

A question-mark-shaped building and 350 year-old churches

After I walked through huge automatic revolving doors Tuesday, I was immediately surrounded by television sets -- on coffee tables, hung from the ceiling and on the walls. The sleek rounded furniture fit the atmosphere. In the lobby of the BBC Television Studios I waited for my communications class's tour to start.

Despite the lack of celebrity sightings, the BBC offered a visual feast for any journalism student. The building itself forms a question mark, clear from any aerial view of the studio. We peered into two floors of the station's main newsroom, the heart of BBC reporting action. We caught a glimpse of the weather studios. We took a break in the dressing rooms used by stars like Tom Cruise, Elton John, Jennifer Lopez and Prince. And, after walking up lots of steps, we walked into a small room with a long glass window spanning one side. Through it we could see down into the bright colored lights of the set of "Golden Balls," a game show on the BBC. We entered another gallery and saw the taping of a daytime talk show.

Wednesday's tour had a different flair. My architecture class met in front of the St. Paul's underground station and we spent 30 minutes walking around the outside of Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece. Walking one block away made visible four more Wren churches. We saw two Norman Foster buildings and his talked about "Gherkin" from afar (yes, I'm talking about the pickle shaped building in London's financial district).

After a quick stop home, I boarded the 98 bus and rode down Oxford Street to meet my friends for Ash Wednesday mass at a Catholic church near their flat. Definitely a city mass, the service finished in less than 40 minutes. And, when it came time during the mass to receive communion, forget ushers. Everyone just walked up, first come, first served. We finished the day with a fish dinner back at their place.

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