Tuesday, July 29, 2008

the idle rich

Monday morning came with some record breaking heat - even getting up to, wait for it, 86 degrees! I know, I know, humidity. But seriously you would think that the plague were upon us. It's all anybody can talk about over here - how unusual this is, how it's Global Warming, how they hate sweating. I actually like sweating - I don't sweat at home because it's too dry. But enough about me and my sweating. It was warm today. Made for some nice adventures.

After dealing with post-robbery fallout: buying a new Oyster Pass, ordering new credit cards, going to therapy, I met up with Alex and Kevin for a little exploration of our own neighborhood, Kensington and Knightsbridge. The first place we went to was Brompton's Oratory, which is this fantastic Catholic church just down the road from us. I've never been there, and can't believe that now. It's the most ornate building I've ever been in. It's almost too much to take in. We silently walked around it, and people were there actually worshipping. There were a bunch of confessional booths, but nobody in them. It's a shame, because I want to try the confessional sometime. Are non-Catholics allowed to do that? What if I just make a bunch of stuff up? Would they know?

We continued our walk, stopping at Patisserie Valerie for a little petit dejeuner. Or what we might call a "sandwich." With a bottle of "Orangina." The Patisserie was full of pastries and cakes which, if I had a sweeter tooth, may have tempted me. But I think the picture says it all. We tried to eat in this little park, but it was padlocked - for rich, snobby people ONLY. So we sat on the street in front of Stephane Mallarme's old house and a little of my sandwich dropped onto the cobblestones.

For my "proper" lunch I had a great meal at Nando's with Naomi Miles and her friend Emma. Naomi and James Miles were our great friends when we were at Exeter, and so it's always good to see them either individually or together. Naomi and Emma were in town to see a Brandi Carlisle concert. I have never heard of Brandi Carlisle, so I just referred to her as Belinda Carlisle. Anyway, the lunch was fun and I had about 5 refills on my Coke and enjoyed that a lot more than I should. (Pebble Ice? Refills? What are these strange concepts? Teach me.)

I always love the Imperial War Museum. I never miss it, even if, like last year, we don't have time to take the whole group. We brought the group this year, and they loved it. I know it sounds boring, but it is an absolutely beautiful museum with so much information and so many interactive activities that I could spend hours there. And usually do. I always love the Children's War exhibit, and Alex and I strolled through the "Secret Police" wing, which was very James Bond. But today I went through the Holocaust Exhibit for the first time, and it was pretty gutting. It took at least 90 minutes to get through, and it was not very pleasant, as you can guess. But touching and rousing, too. Everyone needs to see it.

I always love the WWII propaganda posters. Here are a few:

Also, here's a picture of me on the steps of the museum. On a scale from 1-10, how JC Penney is this picture?

Our play tonight was called A Slight Ache. It's by Harold Pinter, so you know it's going to be very obtuse and everyone is going to pause a lot. There is a character in it of an old man, but in this staging he was basically a leather version of Darth Maul. He doesn't speak the entire play, he just freaks out a wealthy middle-aged couple. Luckily we had studied this play in class, so we knew what all the metaphors and allusions were, but if we hadn't? There would have been a riot. If I had thrown a performance of A Slight Ache at my students unprepared they would have definitely smashed the conch, gone on a bloody rampage and murdered Piggy. It's a tough play. But very well done. And under an hour!

We just really like to stay informed on the tube.

After the play a few of us hung out on the lawn at Wellington Arch and talked. Then we strolled down the Mall to Buckingham Palace and took a few snappy snaps. The evening was fine, and there was a slight breeze, which turned into a lightning storm as we made our way down Old Brompton Road. It rained steadily through the night, and everything cooled off.