Tuesday, July 20, 2010

street performing

We spent a little time today with Gillian Chadwick, and you are fooling yourself if you think she doesn't love Jude Law. Because she loves, loves, him. And also Johnny Depp (followed by silent whistling noise.) Gillian was our London Walks tour guide, and we had her all to ourselves. We met her promptly at noon in Embankment Station, which we quickly fled because something in there was blowing heat.

(sidenote: London is having a heatwave. Seriously, I think it was in the 80's today. Nobody can function. It's basically the apocalypse. More on that later.)

Gillian's job, and she is fantastic at it, was to take us on a Theatreland tour. But before we hit Theatreland we got to see where Scrooge lived, and the door where Jacob Marley's face appeared on the knocker. We saw the Sherlock Holmes pub. We learned about George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, who was so wealthy and so vain that he named all the streets around his London estate George Street, Villiers Street, Duke Street, Buckingham Street, and best of all "Of Alley."

Gillian took us to some rookeries! These are dismal dank tunnels that lead from the street to the caverns below. Dens of thievery and vice! (now just a parking lot. They paved rookeries and they put up a parking lot. Shoo-bopbopbop.) But they still looked rank and spooky. I wasn't going to go down there! Not in these new trousers!

We saw the beautiful Art Deco Adelphi Building, home of George Bernard Shaw, and the Adam Style building across the street that belonged to J. M. Barrie. Allegedly GBS and Barrie used to shout conversations across the street from their windows.

We also saw the Savoy Hotel and heard stories about a lamp that was lit by farts.

We went into the Drury Lane theatre and saw some scandalous staircases and heard about the ghostly grey man who appears as a good omen whenever a show is in rehearsal there. I swear that happened to me at the Noorda once! Except it was just Steve Purdy.

We ended the tour in Covent Garden, and everything should have been fine from then on. But then there was an incident. And I don't know how to broach it. But here goes. Actually, before I tell this story you should know that I AM NOT THE TYPE OF PERSON WHO VOLUNTEERS TO BE IN STREET PERFORMANCES. I know I'm an actor, but I don't need attention that bad. You won't believe that, but it's true.

What basically happened is that we were part of a group of, oh, say, a couple hundred people watching this man perform dangerous and funny feats in the middle of Covent Garden. So he's busy swinging cups of orange juice at us. Suddenly he zeroes in on me, pulls me out of the crowd, and the rest is still a blur. What I do remember is the following:

1. I had to run around like a goat and spank his bum.

2. He made me lay down on my back on a trunk.

3. He made me take my shirt off. This was awkward in light of the fact of my, um, undershirt. I made it work.

4. He sat on me and rubbed sunscreen on my chest while everyone pointed and laughed and nobody helped me.
5. He took a giant cucumber and put it sort of down my pants.

6. He took a machete and sliced that cucumber in half while it was on my chest.

7. He squeezed his entire body through a a tennis racket and tried to do the same with me.
8. He made me throw three sharp machetes at him while he balanced on a pipe.

Suddenly it was over, and the crowd dispersed. So suddenly forgotten? Am I just a clown for you people? I spent the rest of the day in a haze. What just happened? Even the aromatics of Lush, the vibrant colors of Neal's Yard, and the taste of creamy Cheddar Cheese could not erase what had just happened.

As time passed, I moved on. We had some sweet cod and chips by Victoria Station, and that erased some of the shame. And then I lost myself in Billy Elliot, and things seem to be OK now.