Friday, July 31, 2009

to eat or not to eat, and eat, and eat

Today our good friends Adam and Loraine came up from the English coast to spend a day with us. Adam came because he wanted to see some old friends, while Loraine came because she wanted “to get on the bloody blog.” So you can expect lots of pictures of Loraine, which will hopefully equal the price she spent on a train ticket.

I took the students first to John Soane’s house. Adam, Lisa, and Loraine wouldn’t go in, because it was a lot of trouble to check your bag in and they wanted to sit somewhere and be witty and European. So they did, and I went in the house with the students. I love this house, because it’s crammed with every artifact you can imagine. John Soane was a pack rat, but in the sense that he’s packing ancient artifacts. You never know when you will see a sarcophagus or a secret panel or a skeleton. It would be a wonderful place to play hide and seek and a terrible place to raise children. My greatest discovery this year is that there are four huge rooms upstairs! I had no idea. Were these there last year? With the yellow walls and the huge windows over Lincolns Inn Fields? I didn’t see them.

The students left for a tour of the British Museum, left in the hands of a capable London guide. Lisa and I went with Adam and Loraine to lunch. We wanted to go to Nando’s Chicken, but it was kind of a walk to get to Soho, and Loraine pretended like she knew where we were going. But we found it, with Loraine promising Lisa a trip to a specialty cheese shop afterwards. You said the magic words!

We had a great meal at Nandos, and stayed for almost two hours, talking and picking at chicken bones. Loraine talked a lot about this mysterious Oscar Wilde book she had been reading, and kept hinting that we should take an Oscar Wilde walk (which we didn’t.) We also talked about Coronation Street and the BBC Omnibus. Finally, we discussed facebook, and how you should never leave elements of your personal information blank, because then people just make giant assumptions.

As promised, Loraine took us to that cheese shop! Man it smelled in there. Wow.

We also stopped by this colorful bakery.

And then I was walking, and I heard marimba music, and a bus splashed me. Right there in front of Spex in the City!Our last stop was pretty fantastic. As an early birthday present, Loraine and Adam led us to the Marks and Spencer by Covent Garden and loaded up bags full of chocolate eclairs, lemon tarts, and about 2500 other pastries. And then we sat at the Actors’ Church across the street and ate them. ALL OF THEM. It was a wonderful way to spend my pre-birthday. All too soon it was time for their train, and we bid a sad farewell. Lisa and I wandered over to Trafalgar Square, already missing our friends.

Tonight we saw Hamlet with Jude Law. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Jude Law Hamlet, but in the end I thought he did really well. He was very easy to understand and I thought he was fun to watch. The costumes were very contemporary, with everything in shades of black, white, and grey. Occasionally a giant red curtain would drop and make a dramatic WHOOSH sound, which I liked. It’s become klnd of a cliché in the theatre to do the black & white & red thing for a show, especially for Shakespeare, but it didn’t bother me. The lighting was amazing. I’m noticing lighting a lot on this trip. And I liked the live snowflakes, though it would have been awesome if they had blown the snowflakes out over the audience like they do in The 39 Steps. Ah, well, I guess you can’t have everything. And sadly for Anna Marie and several others, Mr. Law was unable to meet guests at the Stage Door tonight. He had a “prior engagment.” But last week he allegedly smacked some lady, and he’s all over the papers today for impregnating some new woman, so I think the whole “prior engagement” may have meant a stiff drink at some hidden pub.