Last night we went to Love’s Labour’s Lost at the Globe – and so concludes our summer challenge.
We’ve witnessed word play and physical comedy, identical twins, star-crossed lovers and women dressed up as men, the American Civil War and the Trojan one. We’ve endured hours of standing, resting my chin on the stage, trying not to pay too much attention to the pain of my feet or my back. And, with the support of friends and family, and buoyed up by the energy that can only be gained from a Pizza Express two-for-one deal, we’ve done it. May to September. In rain and wind. All as groundlings (well, almost all). Romeo & Juliet. The Frontline. As You Like It. Troilus & Cressida. Helen. A New World. Love’s Labour’s Lost. The Comedy of Errors. Young Hearts Season 2009.
It was a different experience this year. We weren’t stewards this time round, so no sneaking in and out during performances. No tabards. None of the vertigo of the Upper Gallery. We needed tickets and frequently forgot them. We sat down at interval, took photos of the sets, each other, and the rain of Frontline introduced a permanent squeak to our camera. We had the opportunity to introduce friends – English and Australian – to the theatre. I had the opportunity to pick ‘Lady’ from the list of potential titles given on the online booking system (which ended up being very embarrassing when we had to get the tickets reprinted at the actual theatre).
Best show of the year – that’s a difficult one. Probably Comedy of Errors for me, or As You Like It. Best modern show was Frontline – I was glad to get the opportunity to see the full show this year, after only being in the theatre for bits of it the year before. I was disappointed by Romeo and Juliet, thought Trolius was an interesting performance of a not-so-interesting play. In terms of sets and visual spectacle, this season seemed to be lacking compared to 2008. There was nothing to compare with the overhanging nets of Timon of Athens, the glowing inflatable orb of Midsummer Night’s Dream. But once again, I was impressed by the way that the actors make Shakespeare understandable, by the way I can go to a play not knowing anything about it, and still quickly pick up what’s going on.
And so, our Globe Season has come to an end, though there’s still Footsbarn’s Christmas Cracker over the winter months. We’ve got other shows coming up – comedians, musicals – but for me, no other London venue quite compares to Shakespeare’s Globe. After all those years of high school English and drama, after all those essays and margin notes, it’s amazing to be part of it.2 comments
Just got home from the last match of the softball season. It’s dark outside now, it rained today, and I’m beginning to wonder if summer is over already.
We didn’t win this evening, but it was close. 37-35. I didn’t intend to play when I left home this morning, but I’m glad that I did. I got out a couple of times; got home a couple of times. Overall, I still suck, but perhaps I sucked slightly less than usual. Continue to have issues with things like catching and not running into people.
We played in Hyde Park, Knightsbridge-side, in a strip of softball matches. Brightly coloured charity t-shirts. The Albert Memorial in the background. Plastic bags as bases, and calls that could’ve gone either way. Perhaps we should’ve won. Perhaps it doesn’t matter that much.
Caught the tube home. Stopped for a pasty. This is living in London, and yet I’m a tourist observing it still.No comments
We moved into a furnished flat here in London. It has couches, a small television, fridge and stove, pots, pans and a mug which commemorates the Royal Wedding in 1981. On one wall, there’s four-ledge bookshelf. One ledge was full when we moved in. Those books are in storage now, and the entire unit is full, two deep in places, with books we’ve accumulated over the past two and a half years.
It’s easier to collect books in Britain. They’re less expensive for a start. You quickly forget things like exchange rates, and £7.99 just seems so much cheaper than $27.99 as the average price for a book. Then there’s the fact that there’s more Bookcrossers in the UK, more books available locally on BookMooch. Friends leave the country and leave books. We travel more too, and it’s hard to resist a new book for the plane or train.
And, then my lovely husband sends me an email at work, saying that the Borders on Oxford Street is closing down. I think he knew what would happen. I hope he did.
The West End is not my favourite part of London after work. Up around the ‘Silicon Roundabout’, I can sometimes forget the number of people in this city. Meanwhile in Oxford Street, the pavements are swarming. But, I’ll brave the West End for books, especially if they’re ‘at least 50%’ off. I’ll even stay till 8pm, rummaging through the racks, moving down the floors as they’re closed off, joining the long queue for final purchases. And as a result, I’ve come home with:
- A computer programme called ‘Start Writing Your New Novel’ (£1) because, you know I should really do that sometime soon;
- The Life of Riley, Joanna Nadin (£1);
- Black Boxes, Caroline Smailes (£1);
- The Spare Room, Helen Garner (£1);
- Take Off Your Party Dress, Dina Rabinovitch (£1);
- Millions of Women are Waiting to Meet You, Sean Thomas (£1);
- Everything is Sinister, David Llewellyn (£1);
- An Atlas of Impossible Longing, Anuradha Roy (£1);
- The Great Lover, Jill Dawson (okay, this was £4, but it’s one I’ve been wanting to read for a while).
There’s quite a lot of British fiction there. And okay, it’s easier to read British fiction than New Zealand fiction because of the relative abundancy of it. And to some extent, I’ve always read books set in the UK – but whereas I once read them for their ‘other-worldness’, I now read them for their familiarity. The Great Lover is about Rupert Brooke and the Orchard Tea Gardens in Cambridge. Matt and I have been there. I read Dina’s blog, sometimes I read her columns about breast cancer in the Guardian, and yes, I do feel bad about only buying the book now, when it was on sale even though I did donate to the CTRT appeal at one point last year.
Tonight, the new books are sitting in three randomly assigned piles on our dining room table, alongside a couple of letters which I need to respond to and a stack of leaflets from work. There’s no space in the bookshelf. The Borders on Oxford Street will close soon. There are more words in the world than I can possibly imagine.No comments
It’s November, so I guess I was due for my annual trip to the Royal London Hospital A&E.
Last November, I manged to fall down the stairs outside of London Bridge Station, sprained my ankle and had to negotiate the public transport system on crutches for about a month afterwards.
This November – today in fact – I was back at the Whitechapel Road clinic, due to continued pain from Saturday’s TV stand injury.
The Royal London Hospital A&E just seems too small for the number of visitors it gets. There are only 12 seats in the wating room, and the consultation areas are separated by what can onl be described as shower curtains. They’re even printed with droplets of water.
I must’ve arrived at the clinic at about 2.45pm today. Checking in, going through the streaming process, getting an x-ray, seeing a nurse and a whole lot of waiting took me through to just after 5.00pm. The medical staff were great though, and the good news is there’s no broken bones.
The less good news is, instead of heading up to Manchester again for work, I’m facing a weekend in a sling. And that means typing with one hand, which makes blogging painfully (pun intended) slow, so I’m going to stop here.
The West End of London has a lot to recommend it: the theatre district, the great shopping, the buskers in Covent Garden, the myriad pubs and bars. But, on the whole, I’m not a fan of the West End between the hours of 5pm and midnight. Why? Because it’s busy.
Busy, of course, is not unusual in London. Everywhere’s busy. The tubes are packed, there are long lines to get into tourist attractions such as the Tower. The West End, in my opinion, is beyond that.
It’s narrow footpaths and hundreds of tourists, and everyone in a rush, pushing to get past – or otherwise it’s people who don’t fit in the pubs, not letting you pass at all. It’s taxis that don’t stop for you and no traffic lights. It’s newspapers and vendors on the street, and noise and billboards, and neon lights.
Also, in the midst of this, and this is a bit of a side note, there’s a frustrating lack of ATMs. In New Zealand I’m used to ‘hole in the wall’ machines on almost every city block. Here, they’re really only outside banks, in stations, or – if you’re prepared to pay for the privilege – in a few convenience stores.
I was in Covent Garden for a networking event tonight, almost got run over, couldn’t find an ATM. But the speaker was fantastic, and it was great to meet a few other marketeers. Of course, then I did have to come home via Earls Court.
Don’t get me started on Earls Court.
(But I ♥ London, all the same).
Yesterday, Matt and I managed to get a simultaneous day of annual leave – or most of a day at least. I still had to be in Goodge Street for a meeting at 4:30, followed by a networking event which stretched until 11pm.
But anyway, during the day, we took advantage of the Monday holiday and headed into central London and the National Portrait Gallery. What differentiates the Portrait Gallery from a standard art gallery is its strong links with history. Along the walls, and throughout the rooms, you basically find a “who’s who” of public life in Britain over the past 400 or so years.
Given our current obsession with the Tudors, it’s perhaps unsurprising that we spent most of our time in the first eight rooms. In these rooms, you can find paintings of all the usual cast: Henry VIII, Thomas Cranmer, Sir Thomas More, Anne Boleyn, Queen Mary I, Queen Elizabeth, Lady Jane Grey and Catherine of Aragon. And perhaps not surprisingly, none of them look quite as good in paint as they do in our favourite television series.
Also on the second floor, we found some amazing paintings of parliament in session, where almost all the members have been identified. There were also some well known portraits scientists, artists and writers, including one of Shakespeare (the first painting that the gallery obtained) and another of Jane Austen.
And in about three hours, that’s as far as we got. We rushed through the Stuarts and the Civil War, and didn’t make it to the Victorians or anything later than that. It was more than enough to just wander from one wall to another, and listen to the stories on our audio guides (£2 to hire from the front desk, entry into the permanent collection was free). It was enough to just look at those Tudors and imagine them sitting for those portraits, and marvel once again, at the nearness of history in this country.
Winter definitely arrived in London over the weekend. On Sunday morning, when I woke up, there it was snowing. Snowing! Okay, so it was only a light dusting and it’d all melted by midday, but there’s nothing like getting back under the duvet and watching snowflakes drift down outside the window. It gives me hope that we will get our white Christmas in Scotland next month.
Anyway, I wrapped up warm, with a coat and scarf, and headed out to Sainsburys for food. I wasn’t really intending on buying a smoothie, but when I saw this one, wearning it’s very own woollen hat, I couldn’t resist. Apparently, it’s all part of Innocent’s Big Knit campaign. People round the country knit hats for the smoothie bottles, and 50p from each one sold goes to Age Concern – with the aim of keeping older people warm over the winter months.
Not quite sure what I’m going to do with the hat now I’m done with the smoothie. Though it is about the right size to keep my injured fingers warm. Knowing how many gloves and scarves I lost on tubes and trains last winter, I’m going to keep it as a back up, just in case.
I feel it deserves its own blog entry for two reasons. The first relates to the round thing at the top of this not-so-carefully taken photograph. That’s our doorbell. Our landlord described it as a green doorbell, which basically means that we have to wind it up by hand. If it loses its internal tension, it also loses its sound.
The second, is that flap halfway down. That’s how our mail arrives. I don’t think I’ve seen a letter box over here. The mail comes through the flap in the door, and usually it’s bills or junk mail (as seen here).
While it’s quite nice to come home in the evening to a pile of letters on the doormat, the obvious disadvantage of this system is that the flap is too small for large book-shaped parcels from various internet retailers. Sometimes these get left outside, sometimes they get left at the nearest post office, and sometimes – depending on the depot – they’re returned to the head office halfway across the city.
At Christmas we tie ribbon around our doorbell, but since it is November, it is not Christmas just yet.
It was back to Skills London at the ExCeL Centre this morning. I’ve just looked at the Google map of the area, and it’s quite a way out of the city. Past Whitechapel, past the Isle of Dogs, even past Greenwich. There’s more space out that way, I guess. Space enough to build a exhibition centre, with huge halls, cafes, bars, hotels, transport links and an off-site delivery coordination area.
I’ve travelled more on the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) this week, than I have in my entire time in London so far (which, as of today, has been two years). Today, I made the disturbing discovery that they don’t have drivers. I was sitting up the front on my way to Canning Town, looking out the front window at the roller-coaster like tracks ahead, and suddenly I realised that there was no driver in front of me. Reading this BBC news article, I learnt that there’s supposed to be train attendants instead – but so far, I haven’t seen one of those. Without a driver, who’s going to be the voice on the intercom telling us that there station ahead is closed/there’s a person under a train/we’re being held at a red signal/to please mind the gap.
For anyone who’s more interested in the actual event than the London public transport system, I’ve blogged about it for work here.
So, it’s 11.30pm. I’ve just got home and, under the terms and conditions of NaBloPoMo, am going to post this entry before midnight, before I go to bed.
Today’s taken me from South West, to West End, to the City, out East, back to the City, back out East where we watched a Journey to the West and then came home again. I’ve travelled by overland train, tube, Dockland light railway and removal van. Today I’ve visited the ExCeL Centre and The O2 for the first time – and been impressed by the scale of both.
On a more worrying note, with all the travelling, I didn’t manage to eat anything at all until about 7.30pm, and then I ate at Starbucks. I’m sure that wouldn’t happen in New Zealand.
I may write more about these things when I am more awake.