Dad and I packed up last night and were pulling our travel bags down the sidewalk towards the metro at first light. The train from Paris to London by way of the Chunnel starts in Gare du Nord (North Station) and is about an hour and a half through the channel tunnel. I’ve ferried the other way, but never gone under the channel. If ever there was a “belly of the beast” moment before an adventure, then the Chunnel is a great one. (note to self: start a novel this way!) I was surprised how quickly we moved through the darkness and emerged out into the English countryside. I suppose that’s why they call it a high-speed train, eh? No white cliffs of Dover to see on this trip.
We “alighted” at king’s cross, an oversight on my part because I thought we were going to Victoria and hadn’t really planned well. The irony was that while I’d never expected to have internet on my phone in Europe, I’d been surprised to have it in Paris as a part of my service, and when I got to London it was so slow that I couldn’t use it right away. How quickly we adapt to the (digital) crutches we are given. It was all a lesson there which resulted in some walking, a tube ride (the underground), and finally a bus to oxford, all with luggage in tow, and by the time we walked from high street to Keble college (key-bull) we were exhausted, though not jet-lagged. There is something to be said for building margins of error and flexibility into one’s plans.
We were put up in Keble’s “new” building by which I mean the 1970’s glass tower that is the deBreyne building. They call the attached college bar “the spaceship” if that is any indication of the stark aesthetic contrast to the rest of the white trim and red brick castling of the rest of the college. A great room nonetheless, and even the bathroom was only a few steps from every door, with one for every two boarders. No AC of course, but then, that’s England!
Thanks to social media and a reboot of my phone, I was able to invite the ad-hoc group to Lebanese, but did not actually meet up with any till later, where I met my first classmates face to face: Jason & Dan at the “Lamb and Flag Pub”, the “back up” meeting place of the inklings as I understand it. For us though, it was the eagle and child across St. Giles that became our backup, since the “Lamb and Flag” had closed its grill already. Since the policy is to get a table number before ordering, we three ended up meeting some strangers and sitting in the very corner the inklings were purported to have spent their time by the fire (if the signage is to be trusted,) and struck up a grand conversation about what cultural apologetics is, why it matters, and how we knew each other so well despite having just “met” moments ago.
Perhaps technology is not such a crutch after all? When used to make real human connections it enables. When relied upon to stand in for real human thought it merely becomes enabling.
Adam L. Brackin, Ph.D - Doc to his friends - is an independent media consultant, writer, and sometimes professor. His teaching and research interests include: Social Media, Transmedia, & ARG, all forms of non-linear & interactive narrative, story mechanics models, and video game studies & design.