Wednesday, August 15, 2007

a shot of scotch

Thanks to the prayers of many, we made it Edinburgh surprisingly smoothly. I say surprisingly because traveling with a giant group is usually a huge headache, and I always sort of dread it. But everything fell into place without anyone’s suitcase zippers popping open, any passports accidentally checked on with luggage, and no emotional breakdowns outside the Victoria Coach station.

The only drama came on the bus to Luton airport, when a pleasant young lady sat in the seats in front of Mark and me with her kindly old grandfather. And then started to make-out with him. So it either wasn’t her grandfather or they are just super European. I looked out the window the whole time, but Mark was forced to watch all the nuzzling, careless whispers, and secret smooches.

Outside the bus was Bedfordshire, one of the most beautiful pastoral counties in England. Rolling green hills, yellowing fields, and little villages here and there. Of course I’m partial to Bedfordshire because the man I’m named after, Christopher Layton, came from there. And according to my genealogy, so did the majority of my ancestry. I understand why I was so captivated by the countryside – it must be ancestral voices.

But back to Edinburgh. We got here fine. It rained on us a bit, but cleared up in time for some fireworks. We’re here for the Edinburgh International Festival, where all sorts of different countries submit plays and hope that you like them. Unfortunately, we did not like this evening’s performance of Poppea, submitted by some Viennese Opera singers. The reason we did not like it was not the opera music, which was fine, or the random Cole Porter songs that kept popping in and out, but rather the nudity, simulated sex, and people drinking blood that sort of turned us off. You will be happy to know that most of us left at intermission. Especially if you are our ecclesiastical leader. There was one part where this crazy lady in a lime green, low-cut dress and bride of Frankenstein hair zipped around the stage like a crack addict singing “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” I’m sure this is exactly what Cole Porter had in mind. Needless to say, the London papers are all calling Poppea a masterpiece. We called it Poopea.

So instead we took a walk around the Royal Mile, which was amazing as the sun set. Edinburgh is a pretty incredible city when it isn’t raining. Even then it’s pretty awesome, you just have to take refuge in the local Subway and have yourself the Sub of the Day.

But the best part of the night was the 11:30 showing of Xanadu at the local film house, sponsored by the Scottish Bad Film society. You have to bear in mind that I’ve seen Xanadu possibly 16 times, but never on the big screen. So Cara, Aurora, Alex, and Jaclyn and I ventured out. No sooner were our tickets bought than I was being interviewed by the BBC and referred to as a “Xanadu expert.” Not to brag or anything, but I AM a Xanadu expert. So tonight ended on a beautiful note: leg-warmers, Australian accents, tiger shirts, roller-skates, and a cartoon love scene. Take a note, Poppea!