Serene Sunday: London Edition

Sadly enough I had no time to tour any churches on the London Trip.  I wondered what hymn mostly exemplifies the UK to me but very few came to mind that were particularly British.  However, with some free  associating, David Tennant > Doctor Who> Series 3 > Gridlock (see, British!), I finally settled on a famous one, Abide with Me.

According to Wikipedia, Abide with Me was written by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte.  It is most often sung to William Henry Monk’s tune “Eventide.”  Lyte wrote the poem in 1847 and set it to music while he lay dying from tuberculosis; he survived only a further three weeks after its completion.  The hymn is a prayer for God to remain present with the speaker throughout life, through trials, and through death.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwsWS7RyBII

 

1. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

2. Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.

3. I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

 

Servetus on her blog suggested this hymn was fitting to commemorate 9/11 today.  I agree.

 

 

Surreal Saturday: London Edition

London is famous for curious sights from frozen human statues covered in cold and silver to odd scuptures on corners.  However for this edition I videoed a busker in Covent Garden.  I’d seen him before several years ago and he’s still there. He had a new trick this year.   He’s funny, silly, and really quite amazing since his trick involves balancing on very uneven cobblestones.  I’ve forgotten his name, but perhaps you can catch it for me.

Enjoy!

 

London and Me: Intermission or Can I Order Indian Instead?

This is the perfect time to talk about a serious food issue in London.   I never run into this problem at home but as soon as I touch soil in the UK, I have to deal with it – pub grub.  Specifically the phenomenon of fish and chips.  Even if a pub doesn’t have something edible like bangers and mash, there is always fish and chips with those malt packets on the side.

Fish and Chips!I’m not a fan of fish and chips.   In the US, I enjoy fish with flavor.  Perch can be tasty and if seasoned properly, white fish might even pass my inspection.  But in the UK, the fish of choice is usually haddock, something I consider quite bland.  No wonder they offer packets of malted vinegar for taste. There is no catfish, buffalo, or any other flavorful fish. It’s haddock or bugger off.   To make matters worse, the plentiful chip shops on every corner serve theirs up in lovely greasy paper to ensure you enjoy every greasy bite.  The fish’s greasiness is directly proportionate to the greasiness of the chips.   This is considered really good eats.

Fish and chips and mushy peasThere’s something else.  I’ve seen it on plates with fish and chips.  It’s green and mushy and …well, it’s mushy peas.  Wiki says mushy peas are dried marrowfat peas which are first soaked overnight in water and then simmered with a little sugar and salt until they form a thick green lumpy soup. They are a traditional British accompaniment to fish and chips.  They are actually sold in tinned cans and sold as batter in pea fritter.  Okaaay. To me, it looks like peas pureed and then cooked down into glop.  In the US, it’s called baby food.  Why is this served at meals?  Why do people eat it, much less with fish and chips?  I just don’t get it.

 

Dublin, Ireland (Temple Bar)And let’s talk about the beer. Yes, this is utter heresy territory.  I’ll admit right off that I don’t like beer.  I’ve tried since college to find a drinkable beer to no avail.  A beer loving friend actually bought at least 15 kinds of beers for me taste, so determined was he to find a drinking buddy.  I hated every one.  In the UK, I’ve had shandys and ciders; no luck.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I dislike the taste of hops, barley and the fermentation process, ergo beer. In the UK, every social event calls for some kind of beer, ale, stout or cider. It’s hard to avoid.   Europeans joke that Americans drink cold weak piss.  Sorry, Europeans drink warm, really, really strong piss.  There, I said it. What do you think Dear Reader about pub grub and beer? Tell me how you really feel.  Or set me straight.

Oh, because I know what you people come here for:

John Mulligan eating

Richard Armitage as John Mulligan in Moving On, definitely not eating fish and chips, mushy peas or beer. Courtesy of richardarmitagenet.com

 

London and Me or The Play Is the Thing: Part 7

[This post is reconstructed from semi-coherent posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter.  Social medial experts call it microblogging.  I call it leaving a trail to remember I was there.   If you forgot who or what Winston is, click hereIf you want to read past installments click here.]

June 25

much ado poster6:45 PM ish

It’s not a good idea to rest my eyes for a second.  I open them and realize I should have left already for the theater.  I poke around my bag for the precious ticket alarming Winston.  Confident I have everything, I rush to the Tube.  I pelt fast see a waiting train -should I have turned left, not right? – and jump on it.  Time looks good until the robotic voice calls out the wrong stop.  Oh shit, I’m going on the wrong direction!  Teeth gritted I jump off two stops further north and try to cross to the other side – except my Oyster card is confused and won’t let me through the turnstile.  It insists I should continue north, not south.  A kindly conductor spots my ditzy tourist self and sorts the situation.  Finally my train arrives.   Time is very tight; if I’m lucky I might get to Wyndham’s at 7:30 PM sharp.  If I don’t, I won’t be let in until intermission. I can’t believe I got this ticket only to miss half the show?  Damnit!

Winston sticks his head out of the bag in renewed vigor.  Annoying little bugger.

The journey feels interminable.  I swear my iPhone is slowing down just to spite me.  I push through the horde of people to the turnstyle.  Wait, where’s my Oyster card? I pat my pockets. Shit! I’m cursing aloud. I’m going to miss the show!  I look up to see a conductor pushing towards me.  He must have heard me because he opens the  turnstile and points towards the stairs to Wynham’s.  Oh thank you!  I bound up the stairs and race into the theatre and down the hall as the third bell sounds.  SHIT!  I hold up my ticket; am I too late?   The usher waves me through.  Glancing over my shoulder to see how many are behind me, I see her stop some latecomers.  Oh wow. Winston chuffs in disappointment.  Heh, take that little bugger.

I’m quickly sorted out by another user and find myself seated in the 3rd row on the floor, dead center.   My seatmate to the right is the lady from earlier in the day.

Woman: Hi, didn’t I see you this morning?

Me: Yes, you won the lottery ticket.

Woman:  Well, it looks like you did too!

I’m stunned.  Mr. Awesome must have given me a lottery ticket.  I’m actually speechless.  No matter, the lights drop and Much Ado About Nothing with David Tennant and Catherine Tate begins.

Much Ado About Nothing productionSince I didn’t have time to pick up a hearing device before the first act, I have some difficulty hearing the dialogue, but that doesn’t bother me.  DT has my interest from the moment he drives onstage in a golf cart.  The setting is early 1980’s Gibraltar.  He plays Benedick. He  and his crew serve in the navy. Catherine Tate plays, Beatrice, the niece of the Duke.  The show played for all the laughs it can get and the audience is receptive.  In the most modern version of Shakespeare I’ve ever seen, we are treated to discos, stag parties, blow up dolls, slapstick and covert sex.  It’s right up my alley.  DT does a brilliant job in the comedic role and frankly outshines Catherine Tate in her own specialty.   Tomorrow, I’ll have my device for the entire show and will be a better judge in reviewing the performances.  This was the purpose of my journey.  It has been worth it.

I’m a very happy camper.  SQUEE!

10:45 PM

After the show, I head to the stage door.  I already have DT’s autograph from Hamlet a few years ago, so I don’t need another.  His fan forum wants footage of him and I’m there with my trusty iPhone.  The crowd although pushy seems a bit more controlled than the ones in Stratford.  I’m pressed but not beaten up.  Making one of his fastest changes, he’s out and working the crowd.  He’s one of the most considerate and sweetest celebrities I’ve ever seen when dealing with his fans.  Although he’s no longer the Doctor on Doctor Who, he still takes special care with children.

 

 

It is a cool night but the rain stops by the time the autograph session is over.  I head to Hagen Daz to for dessert.  Leicester Square is a madhouse in the evening but it is invigorating to be out and about like this.  I did some shopping, visited the London Transport Museum (one of my faves), and had a bit of dim sum in Chinatown.  Not bad for my first full day in London.

NEXT: When two squees collide

 

London and Me or the Much Ado about Much Ado – Part 6

[This post is reconstructed from semi-coherent posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter.  Social medial experts call it microblogging.  I call it leaving a trail to remember I was there.  If you want to read about the newspaper account, click here. If you forgot who or what Winston is, click hereIf you want to read past installments click here.]

full english breakfastJune 25

9:00 AM ish

This time no growing din awakens me.  I’ve been semi-unconscious most of the night, waking fully every two hours to look at my iPhone clock. Sometime in the night I realize my bed has a gentle right sliding slope.  I won’t roll out of bed but there’s still a sense of it on the edge of my consciousness.  I literally roll out at 8AM for that much needed shower.  It’s a cute octagon shaped stall with a water pressure problem.  My shower turns into a sort of drippy whore bath.  I’m not phased; soap, wash cloth and water, even in the sink is all I need. This is an old house after all.  Happy in nice clean clothes, it’s time to get to that good English breakfast.

Winston stirs.  Bacon!

My nose leads me to the dining room.  Breakfast seems to be a catch-can affair; I finally flag down a harried server who sends a plate flying out: springy scrambled eggs, powerfully salty fat ham, half rip tomatoes and good ole pork and beans without the pork.  It’s just what I remember.  I recall reading real Brits actually don’t eat this.  Furtively observing fellow roomers reveals the location of the mysterious tea bags: in a large tin labelled “TEA.”  Right.

Fortified I attempt to powerwalk to the Tube station except that the all downhill trip coming has turned into an all uphill trek going.  This saps the power of the walk quickly. It’s a cold clear London morning.  Young Brits in suits stride by like I’m standing still.  I’m either old, out of shape or both.  I’m the only one in the station puffing like a train.  Sigh.

I arrive at Leicester Square too early for the Lottery and have a walk about.  The main half price kiosk in the park is gone; a whole area has been cordoned off with a high green fence with signs saying “OLYMPICS.”  There’s a great deal of construction going on all over London for the Games next year.  At least six smaller kiosks have sprung up along the main square. I pick one and buy a ticket to see Butley the next afternoon with Dominic West and Paul McGann.  McGann was an old crush but want to see the play and report back to the fandom for old time’s sake.  I’m a sentimental gal; after all I have my ticket to see David Tennant.  Returning to the theatre, I pick up my lottery number and waited for 10:00 AM.  Winston sticks his head out of the bag in interest.

leicester square10:00 AM

On the dot, the manager, Mr. Awesome, comes out with his helper and starts pulling numbers. He will lottery 20 tickets at half price.  He must have lost count because I don’t think he gave out 20. I hold my breath along with a fellow tourist.  Alas I lose by one number but she won a ticket.  He calls out that a few returns and mostly standee tickets will be sold and to queue, naturally opposite from me. I’m near the end of the line.  I consider giving up but decide to stay for the hell of it.  Finally I approach the box office.

Me: Hi.  I suppose you’re only selling standee tickets now right?

Ms. Friendly: Yes.

Mr. Awesome: Weren’t you here yesterday?

Me:  Yes, that was me.

Mr. A.: *reaches around a corner*  Here’s another ticket.

It’s a ticket for the next day’s matinee.

Winston: Rawr!

Me: What!

*Murmur behind me*

Ms. F.: *low voice* You’ll have to pay half price for that.

I think she doesn’t want the remaining people in the lobby to twig onto this.

Me: Gladly!  Thank you!

Winston: *curls back up in doggy shock*

Dominic West in 'Butley' at the Duchess TheatreI leave the theatre now the owner of TWO Much Ado tickets, replacing the two dead ones.  So I can see DT tonight and again tomorrow afternoon – the same time I’ll see PM.  Uh oh.  The Butley ticket is nonrefundable. Winston looks up expectantly.  I head back to the kiosk.

Me: Hi, you remember I was here about 15 minutes ago, don’t you?

Nice Young Man: Oh yes.

Me: *happy waving ticket* I just got a ticket to see Much Ado!

NYM: Oh, congratulations!

Me: *sweetly* Is it possible to switch times for this Butley ticket?

NYM: Sure! *patiently cancels and switches*

Winston: Rwow.

Heh heh, sorry pooch.

My Karma is SMOKING hot.

More Blog Pimping

WordPress just announced I hit 1,000 comments on my blog.  But it seems an anniversary has come and gone because total hits now number 11,173!   The On Meeting Another Other Fan post about meeting Servetus and my musings on racism took the honors with the most hits, followed by the completely silly but popular Infamous Beard post.  The Fanstravaganza 2 posts in March about Guy of Gisborne continue to get views.

Thank you for taking the time to come back and reading my ramblings. Although I’m not as regular as hoped, you seem to be there when I get back, and for that I’m grateful.  I’m proud to be part of this fandom; you all are an amazing and interesting bunch and have given much food for thought.   Although I originally wanted to discuss writing and fandom, I’ve approached these subjects in a completely different way than intended.  I also hadn’t intended to talk so much about that British actor, whatshisname – Armitahge – or something.  I’ve got a short list for more discussions (if I can remember where I put it), but if there’s a topic you’d like me tackle, let me know.

Again, thanks so much for reading.  Here’s a treat!

 

Guy of Gisborne half nude

Is he posing or not? Works for me either way. Courtesy richardarmitagenet.com

London and Me: Kill Claudio! – Part 5

[This post is reconstructed from semi-coherent posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter.  Social medial experts call it microblogging.  I call it leaving a trail to remember I was there.  If you want to read about the newspaper account, click here. If you forgot who or what Winston is, click hereIf you want to read past installments click here.]

 3:00 PMish

As I stand unsteadily near the bed, it’s quite clear that any leaning, sitting, lying or even showering will be my undoing. If I have any hope of seeing tonight’s show,  I need to stay on my feet and active.   I don’t have a clue how I will stay awake.

I head to Wyndham’s Theatre for the tickets.  Thankfully it is located just outside the Leicester Square station, thus sparing my labored brain any further work.  I enter with some trepidation because I lost the ticket reservation number and booking in a computer crash in March.  Could I get the tickets?

Winston wakes for the first time in hours, refreshed.  He loves his drama.

There is a friendly young girl at the box office.  Let’s call her Ms. Friendly.  Just out of sight is the theatre manager, let’s call him Mr. Awesome.  As far as I’m concerned, I’m speaking coherent correct English in pleasant American.

Ms. F.: May I help you? *stops a bit and stares*

I can’t imagine how I look now: a homeless woman?  A drug addict?   Lucifer?

Me: Yes, I’m here to pick up my tickets for this evenings performance please. My name is Judiang.

Ms. F.: *thumbs through envelops*  I’m sorry, there’s nothing here by that name.

Winston: Ruh roh.

Me:  *frets*  Are you sure?  I lost my reservation number in a computer crash but I have my passport here.  *thrusts out passport*

Ms. F.:  *rechecks*

Me: *blathering*  I’ve been traveling here for since Tuesday, I just got here today, there must be some tickets.  I booked them in January.

Ms. F.:  Really? What happened?

Me:  *tells the whole sordid story*

Mr. Awesome: Wow, that’s amazing.

Winston: Rarf!

Ms. F.:  I’m sorry, there’s nothing here with your name for tonight.

Me: *decidedly whingy*   Oh nooo!

Winston: *sticks head out bag and wags tail*

*We all stare at each other*

Me:  *horror dawning*   Was there anything for last night?

Mr. A.: *motions to a shelf*   Check that parcel there.

Ms. F. checks and places a dead ticket on the counter.

Winston: *wags tail more*

Me: *despairing*   And was there anything for Tuesday night?

Ms. F. checks and places another dead ticket on the counter.

Winston: *wags tail harder*

We all stare at the dead tickets

Me: *absolutely whingy knowing the show is sold out*   Oh noooo. I’ve taken so long to get here.  Don’t you have anything?  Behind a pillar?

Mr. A.: It’s just you right?

Me:  Yes.

Mr. A.: *reaches around a corner*  Here’s a ticket.

It’s a ticket for the next day’s evening performance.

Winston: *doggy gasp*

Me: *somewhat deliriously* Oh thank you! Thank you! Thank you! *might have bounced but refuse to confirm that*

Mr. Awesome and Ms. Friend grin.  Enjoy!  That’s a very good ticket.

Winston huffs and curls up in the bag.

I stumble out of the lobby on cloud nine.  What an incredible thing!  Things are looking up. I’m smiling so hard I must look like a loon.  A passer-by turns and smiles.  Such nice people.  Just outside the theatre door I spot a sign.  My brain pieces together there will be a lottery for tickets the next morning at 9:30 AM.  Oh!  I could win my second ticket.  I resolve to return first thing.  Now I can go back to the room and pass out after all, thank goodness.

11:00 PM

I awake sprawled across the bed feeling as if I’d been run over by a lorry.  Something lightly sits on my chest drooling and snorting.  Winston!  My medication schedule is screwed up and I forgot to drug him. Nicely docile, he gets back in the bag with his happy pills.  Good boy.

I head to High Street but discover I woke a bit too late; all the restaurants are closing.  As I wander up and down the darkening road, I see across the street light streaming from an eaterie, like a mirage. It’s apparently a franchise called the Chicken Spot.  Its doors are wide open and the lovely aroma of fried chicken teases me.  I need to cross the street to this oasis but my brain tells me I’m on my own. Miraculously I make it across without getting knocked over by a car.  I order chicken and chips.  It is either delicious or I’m starving to death.

I’m so delight I tweet the following: Why did the tourist cross the road?  To get to the chicken- and it was good!

NEXT: Much Ado and David Tennant!

London and Me: Baggage and Other Issues – Part 4

[This post is reconstructed from semi-coherent posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter.  Social medial experts call it microblogging.  I call it leaving a trail to remember I was there.  If you want to read about the newspaper account, click here. If you forgot who or what Winston is, click hereIf you want to read past installments click here.]

June 24th

8:00  AM GMT

I make my way through Heathrow’s labyrinthine walkways to  Baggage Claim.  The joyful trembling is now just trembling.  In uncalled for optimism I check the bags from my flight.  There is the sea of black luggage and a smaller lake of – red.  What? My head swims as I check a puce one in hopes it’s mine and I might be going blind.  Nope.

8:15 – 10:30 AM

The baggage clerk confirms: no, the bag is NOT in Chicago; yes, it was last in Dulles; no, it should have been on this flight.  Oh wait, it should be on the next flight blah blah blah, due in at 10:00 AM.  I’ve journey since Tuesday morning with only six hours of sleep in 48 hours.  What’s a two hour wait?  Wait, did she say blah blah blah? My hearing’s gone funnier than usual.

I sprawl across a seat near the appointed carousel.  Security eyes me several times as they patrol.  I can’t imagine how I look.  My fingers cease to cooperate so I pocket the iPhone.  Peering like a drunk, I realize the Toilet is nearby thank goodness.  Sheer masochism prompts a look in the mirror.  All things considered, my clothes look pretty wrinkle free; hooray for cotton blends.  Wish I could say the same about my face.  My eyes are a shade of red to complement the lime green top and blue jeans.   My hair looks like I stuck a finger in a socket right before being whacked in the back with an anvil.   My feet – my feet are there somewhere. Sigh.

At the carousel the sea of black bags continue flowing with streams of red.  When the heck did people start buying all these red bags?  I eye a whole set of luggage, neon Barbie pink with logos on it.  Is that really Mattel?  Surely not!  I insanely consider buying something like that; it would certainly stand out from half a mile away.  I mull over other times me and my baggage were separated, 12 hours in London, 6 hours in Detroit, 2 days in Rome and wager when I might see it again.  Given what is turning out to be a long weekend, I want it back before I leave on Monday.

Finally Flight blah blah blah arrives and the bags disgorge, and the last one – is mine.  I’m so ecstatic I’m thisclose to hugging the thing but think better of it; security eyes me closely.  I double-check the tag, walk few a paces, question my vision and double-check again.  Yup, still my luggage.  Now I won’t be whiffy and need to wash my undies in the sink for three days. Or spend too much buying replacements at Marks & Spenser.  Or Selfridges.  Or Harrods.  Dodged that bullet.

11:00 AM

Another long passage finally points the way to the Tube.  All I need to do is swipe my debit card through the travel card machine, purchase an Oyster Card and be on my way. Except the machine does not like my debit card.  I turn around.  There’s a long queue for that.  Sigh.  The line inches as I longingly watch better luck travelers move swiftly through the turnstiles.  I zone out for a bit and I’m before the window clerk.  He looks like a nice elderly man out of a Norman Rockwell painting.  He gently extracts the proper information using small words in a calm voice and patiently draws on the map.  I am age four again.  I nod complacently.  Clutching the prized Oyster Card in its protective plastic, I jump on the next Piccadilly line train confident I can’t mess up.  After all, there’s only one direction it can go -out.  With a change at Leicester Square, I’m on the Northern Line to Finchley Central.  I’m armed with Google maps on paper and on my iPhone; I’m prepared.  As I fight sleep, it dawns I couldn’t be any farther away from Heathrow than if I was in the Docklands.  It’s almost an 1  1/2 hour journey.  Despite a map plotted to the B&B’s door, I manage to get lost but am set right by a friendly florist.  It’s an easy walk, all downhill.

1:20 PM

Finally, almost 46 hours after leaving home, I enter the B&B.  It’s typical English brick Victorian in a quiet leafy residential neighborhood.  The proprietor, Mike, greets me, takes me to the dining area and puts the kettle on.  He murmurs and coos and plots out a quicker way to the Tube station.  I nod complacently.  He stares hard asking if I’m taking in any of this.  I’m sure but awareness is relative at this point.  The place is busy; phones ring.  I’m left to figure out the complexity of tea making.  I locate a cup, hot water and milk but not the tea so I drink the milk.  My room is happily on the 2nd floor off the landing.  It’s small and updated with a wooden floor, twin bed, table, lamp, microwave, TV and an en suite bathroom containing toilet and a skinny shower.  The view is a lovely garden out back.  It’s cheap, cheerful and clean.  It is actually better than other B&B rooms in which I’ve stayed.  It’s too far from the airport but there’s no help for that now.

I can’t think of sitting down and losing consciousness.  I need to get to the theatre.

Winston still snores.  Sleep must be nice.

NEXT: Kill Claudio!