Friday, July 18, 2014


The day didn't really start when I woke up. It actually started much, much earlier, when we were awakened by the flash of lighting and the crack of thunder rumbling through London around 2:15 am. Miles and I lay in bed as the rain pounded outside and the light flickered through the curtains. All the papers today reported that it was one of the biggest lightning storms in recent history, and for a storm watcher like myself, it was super, crazy, awesome. The rain pounded on the street outside our flat and I tried and tried to get a picture of a lighting flash. Until eventually I fell back asleep again.

Today we hit the Tower of London. It's this place where they cut off heads and they torture people on the rack and there are ravens and crown jewels that may or may not be fake (fake for sure.) We jumped immediately into a beefeater tour, and those poor, poor men...I cannot imagine what it's like under all those clothes, shouting to groups of hundreds all day during the sweltering London summer. I appreciate that they do it, and they seem sweaty, but they don't seem grouchy about it. I would be. My hat is off to them.

After the tower we hit Wagamamas for lunch, where Maddy and Rachel claimed to have never eaten from chopsticks. Miles ordered a Diet Coke (a what?) and when the glass came full of ice told everyone at the table to "eat your heart out." There was talk of creating a twitter feed made just of Miles quotes. I hope that happens. He cracks us up all day.

We returned to the Tower specifically to visit the torture chamber. They've added an exciting to new media feature to the torture room: the sound of people pleading for their lives. It's spooky and interactive! Chris Curlett, already a bit nervous to go down there, had some choice words which were pretty funny.

We met up later in the afternoon so that everyone could hit the Sherlock Holmes museum. I went to the museum a few years ago and I thought it was really quaint, but I've never been a rabid Sherlockian, and will admit I've never watched the contemporary show with Benedict Knickerscratch. I was surprised to find, however, that so many in this year's group are die-hard Sherlock fans, so they were excited to go inside, try on deerstalker hats, and explore the intricate and well appointed mystery rooms of a man who never existed. They had a great time. I waited outside, like a dad at a theme park.

After having a picnic in Regent's Park, a time honored tradition now, we attended a performance of Porgy and Bess at the Open Air Theatre. I was pretty mesmerized by the whole thing, but I think I was in the minority; at least in our group. It's a very difficult and challenging piece of theatre; opera I should call it. But the music is so beautiful and haunting and I thought the staging was so inventive: chairs and tables becoming everything from a courtroom to a fishing boat to a hurricane. But it's not an easy piece. It's not Matilda. And as much as I love Matilda, I really relish nights where my mind has to be engaged and nothing is handed to me wrapped as candy. That was tonight. Some beautiful, talented, performers showing us a slice of American theatre we've never seen, and may never see again. And well, well, worth stopping the show twice to wipe the rain sprinkles from the stage. In the end, the audience burst into a standing ovation in a way I've never seen at the Open Air Theatre. It's a strange, dated piece, but in it's own way special, and ultimately touching.