Category Archives: Travel

London Journal – Day 5 – Her Royal Majesty’s Sunset

My full days are taking a toll. My back is killing me (it was bad before I traveled) and a lot of it has to do with the fact that my flat, which obviously belongs to a younger man than I, is all unconventional seating, etc. The bed/sofa is a folded up pair of futons with duvet and cushions. There is no desk, as such, and no “easy chair”. I am not complaining, that’s just how it is.

Here the rejoinder to “Fig Tree” from yesterday:

I went down to Hyde Park Corner to watch the sunset over Hyde Park, and enjoyed the stroll up the park to Marble Arch with a cuppa and my camera for company. Here are a pair shots of that lovely view:


It was bloody cold out, so at Marble Arch I hopped onto a double-decker and headed back up to Marylebone. Here’s shots from the top deck:




Home again, to write some more and rest up for the day of rest.


London Journal – Day 6 – Influency

fluency triangle

The whole point of this kind of travel — long stays, apartment living, eating in — is the development of fluency, cultural, language, etc. I know that I have abominable fluency right now. I find myself switching my fork from left hand to right, for example, or pronouncing a word with American vowel sounding or emphasis. Much of this is to be expected, but some of it is getting annoying.

True fluency means making the proper adjustment without thinking about it. An example here is currency. I have made a nearly effortless transition to the bills and coins of the realm, but I still cannot stop myself from thinking about how much it is in dollars. The 2:1 ratio is just too tempting to perform, and too daunting once performed. When last I was here the exchange rate was some strange figure like 1.45:1, so it was easier to just give up. I know, in my rational mind, that I should just ignore the exchange rate, for the most part, since things just cost more here which tends in most cases to offset the exchange rate. That’s why you don’t hear of people flying here from New York to do their shopping, but you do hear of Brits flying to New York to do theirs. They are getting a double benefit of cheaper prices and a favourable exchange rate.

See what I did there, that spelling of “favourable?” That is not just affectation (tho it is partly) it is part of trying to gain the fluency, to get into the mindset of how things are spelt, or pronounced, etc.

But, back to my point on currency. I will know I have gained some fluency when I stop the seemingly automatic translation into dollars of every sum I pay. I know that things are dearer here, and that is that. Belabouring the point doesn’t help me or my wallet. I still must eat, pay admissions, transit fees, etc. The offsetting side of the equation is that if you live here you will tend, in the most, to get paid respectively higher than you would in the US. Also, expectations of lifestyle are different.

I was alarmed today to read a number in discussions on private debt. Much has been made in the US press of the rapidly rising personal debt load. A year ago in the US it was about $5,800/person, a few months ago it had risen to $9,900. That is alarming. Now, consider this: In the UK the average personal debt is over £29,000/person! Imagine, in a country where the exchange rate is what it is, yes with higher incomes but also with higher taxes, prices, and everything else. That is a frightening number.

Here is another element of fluency. I am a seasoned pedestrian, and I am well versed in the different cadences and meters of pedestrian life, whether I am in Milwaukee, Madison, New York or Chicago. I know when to step off a curb and when to stay put. Key is that I know to always try to make eye contact with the driver, otherwise you cannot tell if they see you. When I was here last I commented that it took me three days before I realized that I was making eye contact with the passengers not the drivers. I felt the fool. That is a lesson I have learned.

This whole left/right thing is still a struggle. You simply do not realize just how deeply engrained the whole stay-right thing is until you are in a place where everyone else is taught to stay left. It is not just driving, such a social norm translates to walking, stairs, escalators, etc. You are so used to looking to your left when you step off a curb, and you simply must adapt to look right over here or a taxi will teach you swiftly.

I could go on and on. Don’t worry, I’ve just about spent my will on this one.

Let’s just leave it that my goal is to require a two day adjustment period when I return, to not get killed by a bus.

No photos today. I’ll write a diary entry later.


London Journal – Day 6 – A Bland Day Out

Sometimes you should just stay in bed.  That was how I felt when I finally got out of bed around 11:00 Sunday morning.  I had been laying there listening to BBC4 for a few hours, and had heard enough Episcopalian prattle to finally get my arse up and on my way.

First off, I wanted to go to Sadler’s Wells to find out about getting cheap seats for the night’s performance by an Argentinian Tango group.

I had seen some adverts in the tube for Flamenco Festival London and thought this was it.  Sadler’s Wells is in Angel, in the borough of Islington, which is north and east of here.  Since there really isn’t a convenient tube route there, I thought to take a bus.  One that goes right by my door, the 274, goes loop-de-loop around north-central London and ends at Angel/Islington.  What a deal.  I went out the door and was hit full in the face with some wicked cold wind, and decided that a scarf would be a good idea.

Back in the flat, I could not find my scarf!  I looked high and low, but it was nowhere to be found.  Must have left it in some café or pub somewhere. Oh well, thank God it’s Sunday — Petticoat Lane will be open.  Petticoat lane is a portion of Middlesex Street in the garment district, the eastern part of The City of London (the old town boundaries) where the road is blocked off every Sunday for an open market.  I would be able to get a scarf there for cheap.

I went back out into the bitter cold and caught a bus.  The ride was nice, the bus is a much better way to see the city than the tube (you can quote me on that) but it does take a lot longer.  I finally got to Angel, and really liked the cosy atmosphere of the area, especially south along St. John’s Road, below Liverpool Street but still above Finsbury.  I could see living here.  It has that slightly edgy feel of an area that is not so much desirable as affordable.  Still quaint streets but also all of the conveniences and rather liveable looking.

I finally made the theatre only to find that they do not open their box office early for same day sales, so I was out of luck.  But by the same token, turns out that the show this evening is not the one I had seen advertised in the tube, that one starts in a week.

So, no loss.  Just some time is all.  Now to stroll down to the London Wall and over east to the far side of The City to Petticoat Lane.

Of course, by the time I got there, many vendors were taking up their stalls.  Wouldn’t you know it.  The early bird gets the worm, the late one gets the shyte!  I did find a decent scarf for a few pound and worked my way back towards home.  Stopped in a pub, The Well, for Sunday Roast, then the tube, and another pub, The Volunteer, for a Martini (which I had to teach the young bar keep how to make!).

Lastly to home and a good read of the day’s news with evening dramas on the Beeb.

No photos, it was cold and I was not really inspired to take any.


London Journal – Day 7 – One Thing Leads To Another

So I had an email exchange with my friend KS and mentioned that I have slowed down my writing partly due to the problem of not having any suitable place so sit and type on my laptop.

“maybe you can go to a ‘charity shop’ and see if they have a cheap ol’ & easy to transfer table, chair you could decorate your pad with… or can you bring the chair from the deck inside?”

Well, there’s a thought.  This morning I made myself some breakfast and then went looking for charity shops in my neighbourhood who might carry such items.  Problem is that there aren’t any.  There are charity shops around here, but not that carry furniture.  Those that do are too far away to be practical.  Oh well.  I did have fun looking, and along the way I stopped in at an OxFam store that specializes in books and music.  They had a very nice travel guide for Prague, and that got me thinking…

A couple of days ago I was discussing with BW my foray to Portobello Road and she asked if I bought any Julius Dressler pieces.


I collect ceramics from that Bohemian pottery, mostly from right around 1900.  I didn’t see any, but I was looking.  That is about the only thing I could justify buying here and bringing back with me.  “No, I didn’t,” I replied, “guess I’ll have to go to Prague and look there.”  Well, with my new found travel guide, it’s just Kizmet!

So, back at the flat after an exquisite tapas lunch (nothing like a Spanish waiter who is sprouting an English accent) I went ahead and booked myself a short holidaycentre.gif in Prague in a week or so.

Now, lest you think I am being rash, it is fair to say that I have really been thinking about this for awhile.  It was just the confluence of events which lead me to go ahead and do it now.  It just feels right.

I’ll be staying in the Jewish Quarter, not far from the Old Town Square for three nights, and I am looking forward to it.

I meant to write a lot more about various themes but I have spent the last 9 hours on a customer emergency and am now totally spent.  Thankfully I was able to get out earlier to pick up some groceries and some vodka, so I can finally relax (at 1:30 am!) and try to get some sleep.


London Journal – Day 8 – After The Rock

First we have the whole Northern Rock scandal, and now this…

I just received this message from my sister, and I have to alert the local population:

A Message from John Cleese (British comedian)
To: The citizens of the United States of America:

In light of your failure to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new prime minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

You should look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.

1. Then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

2. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘favour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix -ize will be replaced by the suffix -ise.

Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up ‘vocabulary’).

3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ‘like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.

There is no such thing as US English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell- checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ‘u’ and the elimination of -ize. You will relearn your original national anthem, God Save The Queen.

4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not adult enough to be independent.

Guns should only be handled by adults. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you’re not grown up enough to handle a gun.

6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

7. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

Holden Monaro’s are also approved.

8. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

9. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline)-roughly $6/US gallon. Get used to it.

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

11. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting Nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of British
Commonwealth- see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

12. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater.

13. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies). Don’t try Rugby – the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us.

14. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

15. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.

16. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

17. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; strawberries in season.

God save the Queen..

John Cleese

In case you haven’t followed it, Northern Rock is a BIG mortgage issuer who went belly up in the whole sub-prime mess.  It is a UK bank, and the government stepped in to guarantee their deposits late last year.  Well, that was their first mistake.  Now the bank has been nationalised (look it up) and that was their next mistake.  Sir Richard (Branson) is very upset, as he wanted to buy the bank on the bak of the tax payers for a pittance and rebrand it as Virgin Bank (aren’t we all sick of virgin this and virgin that yet?).

Imagine how upset the voters will be to find out that PM Brown has repossessed the colonies!

London Journal – Day 8 – A Little Art Appreciation

A new day dawned with the same cold start that has been the hallmark of this week. Folk here are pretty upset about how bizarre their weather has been of late. There has been a strange system stalled around here which has lead to some very high highs and some very low lows. None of it appreciated.

Nowhere else would people complain about 65 degree weather in February, but when they had a high of 18.2 °C (64.76 °F)in Wales a few days ago there were complaints aplenty! Me, I came dressed for crappy Wisconsin weather, so I just get another layer out of the closet and get on with it.

This morning took me to St. Pancras station to confirm a return ticket on First Capital for Gatwick on 3 Mar. I tried to do this online but it is not possible. They start out by asking your country of residence, so I picked US from the menu. Then they give you a form to fill out and one of the required fields is “Postal Code” and it will only accept UK postal codes. Go figure.

After leaving St. Pan’s I went west to the other St. Pan’s; St. Pancras Church. I went to see an exhibit of cartography called “The Island – London Series” by Stephen Walker. I am not quite sure where to begin with this exhibit. I guess I’ll start with the setting. This is exhibited in the crypt of St. Pancras. Although the current structure dates only from 1819-22, the parish goes back at least 600 years, and is thought to be one of the oldest Christian worships in Great Britian. The current crypt hasn’t been used for burial purposes for quite some time, and the markers are rather unceremoniously been laid up in a pile in one corner.

The work itself is impressive. Mr. Walker has fashioned hand drawn maps of the entire London area, and I don’t mean the kind of cartoon map that Saul Steinberg made iconic in 1976 with his “View of the World from 9th Avenue”:

No, these are detailed yet hand drawn maps, well a map, and several sections of it. How to explain…

The original is about 200 cm. x 400 cm. and is so tightly packed with information that you need a magnifying glass to even begin to penetrate the detail. Thankfully you are handed one at the door. Then there are the sections. There are over 40 of these, each overlaps its neighbours and provides the same information as the comprehensive map, but in more readable format.

The conceit of the whole piece is London as an island (hence the title) and it is well executed. Red Groom would blush at what this young artist has done, but has nothing to fear from him in terms of illustration. The whole piece is a triumph of wit and execution, but whether it is a great artistic accomplishment will await the judgement of more critical eyes than mine. I enjoyed it, but I doubt that it is Great. That is my verdict. I will say this: If Mr. Walker does not succeed it will not be for lack of effort on his behalf by TAG; my entire visit was serenaded by the lilting tone of his very efficacious agent on his mobile trying to get various influential collectors in to view this “very important” show.

I bought the catalogue if anyone cares to see it.

Next up was a horse of a different colour, as they say. Down to the Tate British, off of Millbank. The big shows right now are “Peter Doig”:

and “Modern Painters – The Camden Town Group”:

The Camden Town bit was what one would expect. A lot of copy-cat pieces inspired by the work ongoing in France at the time, but with a gritty English tilt. I don’t mean this too sound as dismissive as it does. I really wasn’t aware of the art of these chaps, Spencer Gore, Charles Ginner, Harold Gilman, Walter Richard Sickert, William Ratcliffe and Robert Bevan key among them. But, there is little here to recommend the school as more than an echo of what was happening on the continent. There is one important element, which is Sickert’s work in illustrating a sex and murder scandal of the late 1890s which broke new ground with art as a commentary on news. We still hear reverberations of this today in everything from Blueman and Jenny Holtzer, and before them Weegee and his bretherin.

The Doig exhibit, on the other hand, presented something which we haven’t seen before, at least not in just this form. Though his work seems heavily influenced by the work of Francis Bacon, David Hockney and Ed Paschke, it is both new and descendent. Doig tends to work in large canvases, like those three, and he uses parts of each of their techniques. From Paschke he draws the skill of over-painting the scene in such a way that he obscures almost the enitirety of it yet manages to lose nothing. To see what I mean, consider this piece of Paschke’s, “Blanco” from 1992:

In this piece, as with his others, Paschke has distilled the image down to that which we need to construct a face with which, even if we are not comfortable, we at least associate.

Now consider one by Hockney:

Dewsbury Road
Now a pair of pieces by Bacon:

Lastly a piece by Doig:

(no title) 1997

Am I the only one who sees a progression here?

Thanks for putting up with my little art appreciation course. Sorry if I went overboard there…

I will follow up tomorrow morn with more photos from the day.


London Journal – Catchup on Day 8

Catchup time.

I’ve been discouraged since that Art Appreciation piece went off so poorly. I need to find better examples of Hockney and Doig to make that work. The perfect pieces were those in Tate Britain itself, all within 30 yards of each other, in adjacent galleries. Oh well, I’ll try to update it.

On Tuesday I took some shots on my way back from Tate Britain. Here are a few of those.

The Tate itself, view from Milbank:

Chestnut trees along Milbank:

London: Old and New:
That’s the Houses of Parliament in the distance on the left, Victoria Tower, and The London Eye towards the right.

Houses of Parliament:

Chestnut Trees leaning over Milbank, near Houses of Parliament:

Westminster Abbey in the mist and trees:

Stressed out sculpture by Whitehall:

Big Ben from behind:

London Journal – Day 9 – More Catchup

Yesterday was a really pleasant day. It was brisk cold in the morning, and never did warm up much. I started my day with a trip down to Leicester Square and the Tkts booth. I scored a cheap seat for Tango Por Dos at The Peacock Theatre for 7:30, and then headed down to Green Park to check out the Queen’s gardening prowess and write a post card or two. Here is a view of the park shrouded with fog (freezing fog, as the weather reports had it, but they exaggerate):smaller-cimg0047.JPG

From there I went in search of Hamilton’s Gallery, a toni gallery in Mayfair catering in exclusive photography. I had seen that they had an exhibit of 12 new pieces by Albert Watson “Miss Beehayving” that I wanted to see.


Now my friend LJ had warned me about certain neighbourhoods: “a Dodgy part of town. Southwark…but very cool and interesting” she wrote. Well, no one warned me about Mayfair! This is a very scary place indeed. More money is poured into real estate here than just about anywhere else on the planet. The most expensive flat here is a new penthouse going up with a £100Million price tag. I wasn’t really sure where “13 Carlos Place” was, and it didn’t show on my map, so I just kept strolling around, doing a grid, hoping that I would find it. I even asked a helpful cabby, but without luck. Finally gave up and bailed.

Here is one place I came across on my search. Don’t let the name confuse you, its just a bunch of high-priced “Global Consultants”:
The only folk I know consult globes are fortune tellers, and I imagine they cost less, too.

Then it was off to Tate Modern — They have a big new exhibit on Duchamp, Man Ray and Picabia. That’s down by Southwark, sorry LJ! I took the tube to London Bridge and headed for the Thames. Here’s a set of photos taken from one spot, just to show how different a place looks depending upon which way you’re facing:

Here’s Tower Bridge:
And here’s the Tower of London”
I then strolled on along the Queen’s Walk to the Tate. Along the way I found The Clink:
Don’t want to get thrown in there!

Well, in keeping with my fecklessness, I didn’t bother to check the dates on the new show, and it doesn’t open until the 21st. Oops! Oh well. I have seen a lot of DuChamp and Man Ray exhibitions, so if I miss it it’s not the end of the world. I went ahead and checked out the permanent collection and then cross the Millennium Bridge and take a tube back home.

There will be laundry!

London Journal – Day 10 – About A Fridge

Now that we’ve caught up to the present, I think I should comment that just because I have shown you a lot of pictures of famous places, don’t think that I have visited them all. I have spent most of my time just strolling neighbourhoods, exploring the city, going to pubs, café, restaurants, markets and shops. I really haven’t written about most of this. This is real life, the day to day routine which goes into living somewhere.

I have been asked directions by locals and tourists. I was welcomed to London by an Australian who, after hearing me explain to a local that I couldn’t help them because I was just visiting, said “And how long have you been here?” “Just today, I’ve got a month, though.” “Oy, you’ll need it. I’ve been here three and I still don’t know where I’m at.”

I have been helpful when I could, and honest when I couldn’t.

I have a few observations for you.

1) Young children sound more plaintive with English accents. Also French. This might go a long way to explaining why French and English children are spoilt so. It also might explain a lot about German and Slavic children’s lot.

2) As much as the English have a well earned reputation for politeness (see the “works” signs photos) they are brutal on each other in conversation. “Daft cow!” is not just rumour, you really hear that. I was listening to a few chums at a pub, and they were one-upping each other with bawdy, rude put downs. No “Your mamma” jokes though. These were all strictly personal attacks.

3) Stand on the right! Repeat after me, stand on the right. Oh, and keep left!

4) Here is a handy comparison table for you, so you can tell whether you’re in Milwaukee, New York or London:

Milwaukee New York London
Thin Visitor Native Native
Fat Native Visitor Visitor
Health care Private $ Private $ National
Public Transit Dying Thriving Thriving
Cash Dispenser Tyme Machine ATM Cash point
Parks Great Great Great!
Walk/Drive on Right Right Left
Stand on What? Right Right

It is 11 °C (52 °F) right now and I’m sitting in the courtyard of my building typing this since this is the only place with a real table and chair. I will include a photo of my regular typing situation sometime soon. Needless to say, however, after an hour or so of this my hands are getting cold. So, I am going to wrap with news of today and some last few photos.

Oh, and before I forget. Tango Por Dos last night was a treat. My seat was in Dress Circle (balcony) but was still very good. I like watching dance from above, it really can be nice. My seat mate was a lovely older woman from Ireland who comes to London every month or two for one or two nights and just sees all the cheap shows she can. This was the third or fourth time she has seen this troupe, they come here every year at this time.

After a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon (the last of each, must stop at Tesco or Sainsbury’s) I found a little cafe, Café Téo, on Baker Street for a really cheap cappuccino. Must remember them. Then on to the Wallace Collection. Wonderful stuff, great building. Brilliant!

Then it was back to Mayfair, armed with the knowledge of just where Carlos Place is, and I found Hamilton’s Gallery just fine. Well worth it, too. I really liked Watson’s photos.


Then it was back to Leicester Square and this time a seat for A Prayer For My Daughter at the Young Vic (as compared to the Old Vic) down at Waterloo. I took advantage of the public loo, and was then heading back towards Piccadilly to catch a train home, but I was button-holed by a young bloke with a clipboard in front of the Odeon. He asked me if I had a moment, and I figured why not. “Are you an American?” “Yes.” “May I ask, Clinton or Obama?” “Obama.” “Brilliant, I’m an Obama guy! Do you live here?” “No I’m just visiting.” “Oh, there you’ve broke my heart.” and that was that. I think he was selling eye glass insurance or something like that.

A I left him and put my sights on Piccadilly, I notice a couple of men standing next to a small fridge. In Leicester Square, a fridge. Could only mean one thing. “Is this the Irish fridge then?” I asked the nearest one while I got my camera out. There was a young guy with a hand truck, and another with a big camera. Then there was Tony Hawks and a friend, and his fridge.


Now many of you may be wondering what I’m going on about, but others of you are smiling and chuckling. Tony Hawks, (the writer, not the skateboarder) is a writer for several comedy and other shows in England and has written “Round Ireland with a fridge” and “Playing the Moldovans at tennis.” Both are accounts of seeing out bets made under the influence. I won’t recount the books here, but you can find them at your library or bookshop.

I shook his hand, let him stage a photo-op for my benefit, and told him how much I have enjoyed his books. I heard him read “Moldovans” on Chapter A Day on BBC2 the last time I was here and went right out and bought it. He told me that they’re planning a film version of Round Ireland, which is why he and his fridge were on the Square with a camera crew in tow. I bade him well and strode off towards Piccadilly. “Ay, aint that the bloke with the fridge?” asked a guy passing by. “Yes, that’s Tony Hawks.” I replied. “That’s brilliant, that is.” he beamed.

Back home again. I stopped at Café Téo for some cheap soup and such for lunch.

I had to come in off the patio due to rain. My hands are finally warming up. Thank goodness the notebook kicks off so much heat!