Wednesday, August 08, 2007

a knight's tale

Day two of Stratford, and everybody is running on high octane Shakespeare. Thanks for the breakfast, Tim and Vicky - you know I gotta have my toast with beans, tomatoes, and ham on it. Everything done spit spot. The B&B was fantastic, and nobody wanted to get out of their beds!

It was a little overcast today, which in England means that the jacket goes on, the jacket goes off, the jacket goes on, the jacket goes off. Finding the perfect degree of comfort is a challenge when the weather changes every 5 minutes. But of course, as Mark Twain says, everyone talks about the weather but nobody ever does anything about it.

We set out on foot for the Stratford sites, which I can proudly say I could find blindfolded and lame-stricken if I had to. The birthplace, still proudly standing on Henley Street, the Guild Hall, where we posed a mock-Elizabethan city council fight, Hall's Croft, with the best garden in town, the fanciest timbers, and the creepiest medicine tools, and back to Holy Trinity, which is less spooky in the daytime and costs 50p to see the Shakespeare graves. It takes everything in me to restrain myself from going off on the Shakespeare mysteries. I go all Da Vinci Code in Holy Trinity because I think there are clues everywhere. It's cute now, but it won't be cute when I'm 80.

Bidding goodbye to Stratford, we hopped on the bus and journeyed north to Warwick Castle, which is Britain's best attempt at Disneyland. It's not really like Disneyland, but the British refuse to whore their attractions out, except for Warwick. So you have men jousting on brightly dressed horses and maidens making malt drinks and sprinkling things with rosemary, and all these tourists take pictures and say OMG this and OMG that. I like to turn my students loose in Warwick to see what attracts them. Ashley spent considerable time in the peacock gardens. Liz and the girls checked out the views from the Ramparts. Wes, for some inexplicable reason, climbed onto Jason's shoulders and they headed toward the trebuchet looking like some kind of hybrid giant. But everyone had a good time, I think, and we all made merry. I'm not into knights and castles, actually. It's not my time period. But others are (nerds) and I can respect that (dungeons and dragons.)

Once back home Mark, Jaclyn, Alex, and I headed for the Creperie. We've been putting it off long enough. It's pretty decadent, this creperie. I had something with strawberries, chocolate and cream. The sister missionaries walked by and said hello, and we felt guilty for eating big crepes and sitting lazy in front of a cafe when there's work enough to do. So Alex and I took off for the National to hopefully catch a 7:30 showing of The Rose Tattoo.

Problem was, the tube stopped running before we could get to Embankment. We stalled at Victoria, and time was running out. So we jumped off and decided to make a dash for it. We ran down Victoria, past St. James', past Westminster and Big Ben, down to the Waterloo Bridge, and made it to the play 10 minutes late. Totally sweaty and breathing like pig farmers. A pleasant and
slightly awkward woman held us in the lobby until there was a decent 'interval' in the play, and then let us in. We didn't miss much in the first ten minutes, mostly some Italian ladies squawking around and crying. Actually, that was kind of the whole play. Bad American accents and fat Italian ladies with rolling pins. I like Tennessee Williams a lot, but I'm not sure he's a good fit for the British. Zoe Wanamaker, however, was great in the lead role. She had all the mannerisms and exhaustion of an Italian widow, and you can't beat that famous scratchy voice. But, of course, she knows what she's doing. Contrary to popular belief, she's American.