Sunday, August 02, 2009


I should just start by saying that today was my birthday. I’m 37. Is that old? I can’t decide. This is my third consecutive birthday spent in London, but the first with my wife with me.

The students were wanting to have a birthday party in Hyde Park at noon – not just for me, but for several of the group who are having birthdays during the trip. But when noon came there was a giant downpour – the biggest one this year – and so the park wasn’t happening. But Aubrey, chair of the birthday committee, was undeterred. We had a party downstairs in our classroom. Though it eventually morphed into a party for Samuel Beckett, and we played a game where you said depressing things about yourself, and then everyone blew their party favors in a really sad way. That was funny. Here is Lisa and me playing that game.

But then the sun was out! And it was time to move. We didn’t stray far from home today, taking in the sights of Kensington and Knightsbridge. After a little walk around our hood, and stopping at the Brompton Oratory (amazing – my faorite church in London) the group split up. Some went to the Natural History Museum, some to the Victoria and Albert, and some to Herrods (a museum in itself.) Lisa and I went to have my birthday lunch at the Patisserie Valerie, where our waiter was very French and very mysterious. I had this amazing huge ham and egg friend sandwich with eggs on top, and then a chocolate dessert. When it came time to pay, the mysterious French waiter just smirked and said “You don’t have to pay, monsieur. Eet eez on ze house,” and then walked off. Later I found out that this meal wasn’t on the house at all, but was paid for by Mette – one of the students on our program. But that waiter enjoyed taking mysterious credit for it!After lunch Lisa and I strolled home where I got what every 37 yeard old man wants on his birthday: a nap. And at 5:00 we met up with all of the students for a very special birthday dinner at Wagamama’s noodle bar, my favorite restaurant in London. It was great, albeit spicy. And we barely finished in time for the show!

Luckily we made it. And can I tell you? If you are Chris Clark, and you want the perfect birthday night out, you cannot top watching Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in Waiting for Godot while sitting with your beautiful wife third row and center. Less than 20 feet away from a master class in acting. Watching this production, I felt like I was witnessing something historical. It was absolutely amazing and special. When it was over the entire crowd leapt to their feet - standing ovations are rare here – and I was among them. It was awesome!Lisa and I walked home tonight past Buckingham Palace and into Knightsbridge where we caught the tube home. We talked about Godot, life, and our children. We also discussed American Idol. So we covered pretty much everything.