LA Marshall Farewell Garden Party

13Sep06

Yesterday my parents and I attended a reception for the 2006 Los Angeles Marshall Scholars at the home of Mr. Bob Peirce, the British Consul-General at LA. Mr. Pierce was the chair of my Marshall interview committee and arranged a very nice sendoff party for the four LA scholars. The guests included British academics, representatives from the consul, and former Marshalls (including one of the original 12 Marshall scholars!).

I was finally able to meet Claire (from Oregon) and Ajit (from New Mexico), as I’d already met Rajaie Batniji at previous events. Meanwhile, the Marshall parents all seemed to hit it off quite well. The four of us are all studying science and medicine (three will be in Cambridge), which I think is kind of nifty. Ajit, who has already spent some time at Cambridge, passed down a useful fact: since they do not have the heavy refrigeration capacities that we are used to at Safeway, the supermarket in Cambridge sells food at significant discount for those who shop near closing time.

For what its worth, many of the former Marshalls at the party joked that I shouldn’t get my hopes too high for British food, anyway. What was particularly amusing was that many of the British guests, on separate occasions, told me to expect excellent catering at Trinity.

This might not actually be as contrarian as it may seem, as Mr. Peirce took some time to explain some of the finer points of British English. For example, “quite good” actually means not very good. “Not bad,” on the other hand, is actually pretty good. In fact, “not bad” is better than “quite good.” Meanwhile, “by the way” doesn’t signify a parenthetical statement, but rather the main point of the converstation. What they refer to are ‘public’ and ‘private’ schools are reversed from what Americans are used to, but I’ve learned that this is because what Americans call private schools are thought of as upper-class preparation for the public service in the UK. Anyway, Mr. Peirce tried to comfort me by saying that, “oh, it’s not so bad. ‘Sidewalk’ is still ‘sidewalk,’ afterall.” Somehow that wasn’t as reassuring as he’d hoped.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do very well catching on to his examples of rhyming slang (which, apparently, isn’t all that becoming of an Oxbridge man, anyway). This is where one first replaces a word with a short phrase that rhymes with the word; such as, in Ocean’s Eleven, ‘trouble’ with ‘Barney Rubble.’ Then, one drops the rhyming portion, so that ‘trouble’ becomes ‘Barney.’ And hence, “We’re in Barney,” actually means, “We’re in trouble.” I’ve been thinking really hard about this and have only been able to come up with one that I’m satisfied with:

Krusty Quark (Krusty the Klown, Down)

From now on neutrons are composed of two ups and a Krusty quark. The reason, by the way, that I was so apprehensive about rhyming slang is that the map from slang words to interpreted words is not bijective. It’s not even injective. Does anyone else seem bothered by this?
Anyhow, the night was fun and it was good to meet so many interesting people. Perhaps one of my favorite guests from the evening was a movie industry rep who had studied at Durham. I think Mr. Peirce invited her primarily so that we could meet each other and talk about Durham (where I intend to spend the second year of my scholarship), since she was a little embarassed when she was the only one at the party who didn’t know what a Marshall Scholarship was. (This wasn’t strictly true, as the new deputy consul to LA didn’t quite know either, but he was also very friendly to talk to.) However, before she left she left me her business card and offered to put me in contact with some of the people involved with the Harry Potter movies so that we might be able to visit the set some time. (Those that know me understand how exciting this was for me.) This fit in quite well with the overwhelming exhortation from former Marshalls to travel while I’m in the UK.

So, here’s to a couple more days of frenzied packing!



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