another helpful and informative 253

As a service to our international readers, 253 provides these helpful and informative footnotes designed to point out unusual features of history and architecture. Relax! Imagine you are on a whirlwind coach tour of Britain -- only without being trapped for two weeks with people you never want to see again.

The School of Oriental and African Studies became part of the University of London in 1916 and is yet to fully become so in spirit. Its original building is a dispiriting brick nonentity lost in the no-man's land between Russell Square and Malet Street. A newer extension (1979) looks like the South Bank. A new building was donated by Sultan of Brunei in the 1990s to the School. It needed it.

Scholars from vastly different disciplines and cultures who live in the suburbs and commute daily discover at SOAS that they have nothing to say to each other. Proof positive that to have geography in common is to have nothing in common.

In fact, SOAS has a lot in common with tourist group bus tours.

Or perhaps a trip on London Underground.

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