Saturday, August 03, 2013

voici la reine

I took the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow this morning to pick up Lisa, flying in from Dallas. I was so excited to see her. She hasn't come to visit me here since 2009 and I am so happy to have her back with me. She's mainly coming to be with me in Scotland, but she'll be here for two days in London as well. We're going to get our two-day London on.

There's something a little stressful about picking up someone from Heathrow. There are 5 terminals and I'm always sure I'm in the wrong one. There are also 4 billion people passing through there every hour. After an hour of waiting for Lisa at arrivals I started to panic that I'd missed her and she would be wandering through some other terminal like Edward Snowden for days. But then she finally came,  looking both radiant and sleepy, which is a fascinating combination. I got her back to my flat on Queen's Gate Terrace and she took a giant nap.

We went to the matinee of Noel Coward's Private Lives at the Gielgud theatre today. The Gielgud, I'm sure you'll recall, is the place where Greg Larsen and I had a ghostly encounter. Today our only encounter was with Toby Stephens (son of Maggie Smith) and Anna Chancellor (Duckface), who were fantastic as Elyot and Amanda in this play. I've always wanted to do this show; it goes a mile a minute and the characters are so ridiculous and selfish and clever. It's one of the wittiest plays I've ever seen. The casting was perfect: Stephens and Chancellor played off each other like a tennis match. So funny and such a beautiful set!

Lisa's first request was to go to Primark, and I swear I didn't hint or anything. So we walked down Oxford Street to the flagship store with Aubrey, Devin, and Josh in tow. Josh stopped for a donut so he could wash down all the deer jerky he had been eating during Private Lives. Once we got to Primark I said goodbye to everyone, knowing that once we entered that giant gaping maw I would never see them again. I was right, though Josh found us later and waited with me in the fitting room line, holding a bunch of Lisa's try-on's.

We got on the tube at Marble Arch and rode a train full of soccer hooligans to Waterloo Station, where we disembarked and went on a mad search for food. We settled on the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which was about the best choice we could have made. We both had a Camembert hamburger with skinny rosemary fries. Possibly the best hamburger I've ever had, and I've had some.

At 7:20 we crossed the street to see Sweet Bird of Youth, starring Kim Cattrall as a faded old Hollywood starlet who runs around the stage in a nightie and broken librarian glasses. She was super crazy and really funny. She gave it 150%. I've seen the Paul Newman movie, but it was only about half as weird as this play was. Ames and Emily came with us to see it, and Emily mentioned that it was the kind of 50's play where someone should be playing bongos in the corner. She's right. It's super mid-century Tennessee Williams; fat southern patriarchs called "Boss," handsome young grifters, fading beauties, random characters who show up and say prophetic things, and a giant thunderstorm at the climax, while skeletons come tumbling out of closets. I alternated between being fascinated and exasperated; so yes, a typical Tennessee Williams play. But the acting was great. And there was a plump little purple character called Miss Lucy that should have been played by Kristen Wiig in a curly blond wig.

Lisa felt she had it in her for a night walk, so we crossed the Hungerford Bridge to Embankment. It was a beautiful night and the lights on the river were colorful and full. One more day in London! I'll miss it.