Thursday, July 22, 2010

the late middling classes

We woke up this morning to pounding, thundering rain outside on Queen's Gate Terrace. The hot spell is officially over! No more sweaty bleary eyed days of 83 degree weather! Londoners unite! You have found moisture and respite from your misery. Congratulations, and please never go to Utah in August.

The rain does make things a little tricky for a day at the Tower of London, but just as we all desperately packed into an umbrella shop on Gloucester Road the storm let up, and that was the end of that. The rest of the day was partly cloudy, with a 100% chance of awesome.

I finally took a break from the Tower of London this year. I've gone every year for the past four years, but I couldn't do it again. I could give the Beefeater tour as well as the Beefeaters; last year I mouthed the jokes along with them. Plus, the crown jewels are fake and everyone knows it. SPOILER! But I did lead the horses to water so they could drink; I bought everyone a ticket and then said goodbye for the afternoon. Alex and Daniel, who went to the Tower two years ago and also opted out, persuaded me to go Into the Hoods of North London - so we set out, as they say, for Hoxton.

Hoxton is gritty and urban, but not entirely unsafe. It was actually fun to see a change in environment. It's not like Hoxton's a crack den or anything, just real Londoners living real lives outside of the embassies, gates, and Bentleys we get in South Kensington. To prove how urban we are, here is photo evidence:

And in the middle of keepin it real, yo, we found the White Cube art gallery:

And further in, we found the Geffrye Museum. It's located inside of a really old set of almshouses from the early 1700's. Each room of the museum has been decorated in different urban period styles, so you get a sense of how the middle class lived from the 1600's on. It was really interesting. These weren't lavish rooms, but they weren't hovels either. The "middling" classes had their own style. Or so the Geffrye Museum told us. We saw representations of Elizabethan, Georgian, and Victorian rooms, and then a separate wing with rooms representing each decade of the 1900's. Outside the museum the gardens were divided into periods as well, showing which plants and herbs were vital to each period, as well as which flowers were most popular for decorating. We took a lot of pictures in the gardens. So, turns out we're not such tough guys after all.

Tonight we saw War Horse. This was my second time - I saw it last year with my students. Surprisingly, I liked it better the second time. Whereas I was left a little cold last year, this year the acting seemed more intimate and sweet, and the puppets were even more amazing and lifelike. I wish everyone could see this show. It sort of changes your life.And to prove that the world is small and growing every day smaller, the couple sitting directly in front of me at the show were the Seeley's, old neighbors from the ward I grew up in. And just two rows behind me were the Tates, another couple from that same ward. All of us were there running study abroad programs. It was great to catch up. They asked me for all of my play recommendations and I think I talked their ears off. Midway through our conversation Sister Seeley touched my arm and said "I have to tell you how much you remind me of your mother." So there it was, proof again that no matter how gritty I feel, no matter how urban, how street, in the end I'm just a guy who acts like his mother and enjoys English gardens.