2010 Journal – Chapter 27

My London Tale continues

May 30, 2010 at 3:46 AM

Sunday May 30th, 2010
London, England

London is most definitely growing on me which I’m truly happy about because I thought it may just become another blur in my mind of crappy big city. I am really really enjoying myself here with the people I am meeting the sights I am seeing. People may think Londoners are rude but really once you start a conversation and give a nice smile you’re in and it’s all good. I also enjoy the great cultural blend you experience here it adds such a deep level of interest to when you’re walking around!

Anyway on to today’s activities. I had another late start, the bed was far too comfortable I must tell Tim and Sarah to replace it with a bed that is actually miserable so I’ll get up in the morning! Ha! Well about 10 I left the house and headed into the city to go to Shakespeare’s Globe theater to start off my day. I finally made it in time to make the noon tour and had a little over half an hour to look through the costumes and other items on display before hand. The globe is a good sight to see if you’re into Shakespeare plain and simple! I would argue, though I haven’t been there, that London and the Globe are better to see than Stratford-Upon-Avon because London was where he worked and lived and had his plays performed. However like I said I haven’t been to Stratford-Upon-Avon so counter arguments are welcome!

The coolest part of the Globe today was getting to see a rehearsal for one of the plays being performed right now, Macbeth. I only got to see a few parts of a scene but it was really neat to see it none the less. It made me miss acting something horrible, especially the warm ups and building the excitement and voice and then getting up there and throwing yourself into it! There has yet to be a better high than performing, for me anyway, and I hope once returning to Colorado again to get into some local performances.

Things I learned today about the Globe that I didn’t know or I was mistaken on was that the Globe and all the other theaters at that time were in a more or less “Red Light Distract”.This was because the sort of police force was stationed on the other side of the river. So this makes up two interesting facts. One: that royalty would have probably NEVER have come to a show and Two: prostitutes would wait in the stairs near the upper galleries for new clients. These stairs were also used for a toilet!

Another bit of information is that orange peel were at one point used for “face masks” to shield those that could afford an orange against the smell of the horrible sewer infested streets.

After the Globe it was a walk to London Bridge where off of it I went to see the Surgeon’s Theater and apothecary inside the attic of an old church. This is all original as well not just a use of space to make a tourist trap! When I found out about it with my London Pass I was so excited and I must say that this was well worth hunting it down! It starts with a climb up a steep and tiny spiral staircase to the entrance which was more of a landing with a bunch of books for sale and the ticket both. Then up more steps you go into the old apothecary. This was very well layed out annexing not only the uses and practices of an apothecary but also instruments used by the doctors in the 1800’s when the theater was in full swing. They also have many a pickled organ for those interested in a more grotesque amusement. Probably the most spine chilling along with fascinating cabinets were those with instruments used in child birth. I’ll let you use your imagination on that one.

Of course after rooting through the apothecaries many tight and well places cabinets and bowls of herbs and spices you walk into the theater. Where yes this is actually where they did surgeries for the St. Thomas’s Hospital. This is actually where students would come to observe to better ascertain a medical knowledge. In the center of the room is a table dating back to the 19th century and one can even see blade marks so no joke this was the real deal. To add to the realistic feeling they kept the “rules” on the walls along with a box of sawdust places underneath the table which would have been used to collect blood. I do believe this is the only original existing operating theater in the world or at least in England.

What’s neat about the history of the hospital itself is that it dates back to 1215 where there were a group of nuns and Augustinian Monks caring for patients. It sort of became a refuge for the poor, unwed mothers and prostitutes to receive treatment and care when no one else would take them in. At one point Henry VIII in many of his wonderful campaigns shut it down despite the public wanting it open. However I short order his son reopened it. It also was the birthplace of the first English Bible which was printed on the grounds in 1533. So it’s indeed a fascinating sight simply stuffed full of London history.

After this as I was heading back to St. Paul’s Cathedral for a couple hours I noticed an interesting group of Buskers performing music with guitar, bass and accordion. All three together tend to produce music I’m a very big fan of so I decided to go buy a tea to go while they set up and then sit and enjoy the tunes they were playing. A nice touch were their retro looking outfits that appeared like a scene of working class folks from the 40’s or 50’s mixed with a little rock and roll. All three were extremely talented and had a great persona playing their music I even began sort of dancing in my seat which attracted the attention of a fellow traveler, Juan. He was living in London for a while from Columbia. He had a student visa which he hoped to put into effect once he better understood the English language which is why he was working and living in London. We had a nice talk comparing our travel notes, and though we had a slight language barrier it was and always is nice to talk to someone else that is out and about in a foreign land. After about 40 minutes of music gluttony I decided I had to go before St. Paul’s was closed and I wouldn’t be able to see any of it.

As far as Saint Paul’s goes it’s a beautiful piece of architecture! Absolutely stunning and worth the while! However as far as the people go working there at the end of the day it sort of spoiled it for me. I guess I could understand due to the ridiculous volume of traffic they get but it was a tad ridiculous how they were acting. Of course not everyone there was this way just about half and it really grated on my nerves, at least I got in with my London Pass and didn’t have to pay is all I have to say! I felt literally herded through the entire thing and they were so pushy about getting everyone out the door I really could hardly enjoy it. I will say it was a success to climb to the top which I’m guessing was somewhere around 300 steps or so. The views at top were comparable to that of the London Eye I’m sure so it was pretty cool. I would say and this is no bash to the English that Paris overall is a prettier city to look at from a distance.

After making it to the top I left after taking in the humbling experience of this grand cathedral even if the people soured it some.

This was more or less the end to my day after a coffee and phone call home to my sisters who are leaving for Jamaica today (Sunday).

Yesterday was an easy day and simply for costume research. So I went to one of the best places to do such a thing! The Victoria and Albert museum! They have an entire room going over fashion development from the 1740’s to modern day! Naturally I was happy to see all of these prime examples of tailoring and took far too many pictures for inspiration on further outfits I intend to make. My favorite pieces included a gorgeous sack back dress from the 1770’s and finely detailed men’s coat from around the same time. Oh and though I’m happiest when I’m barefoot I do have a love for well designed shoes and the ones on display were absolutely gorgeous! Especially going back to about 1900 the boot they had up for show was amazing, I would absolutely love a pair!

After costumes I went to the theater section for more costumes and to look at some information they had on London theater. A particular thing that stuck out to me was an interactive display on the set for Sweeney Todd; which made me miss theater even more! I HAVE to get into something here soon!

After Theater I had seen all I really wanted to at the museum, I’ll be honest I have seen so much art and sculpture that I still adore it but I’m a little bit in need of a break in order to appreciate maybe seeing more in a few days.

By the time I had retrieved my bag and coat from the cloak room I decided to hit up the Portobello Road Market! So off I went for a quick, well it turned into 2 hours, stroll of the market to look at all the interesting goods. I was determined not to buy anything but maybe a snack which ended up being a really really good but horribly messy strawberry and nutella crepe. However about the time I was heading back I stopped in this one stall and fell madly in love with a shirt of, though this is ridiculous, Charlie Chaplin in his get up from “Shoulder Arms” which is probably my favorite of his shorter films. So I had to buy it! It is really cute and I’m really happy with it so no regrets!

When I actually started heading back I stopped off for some Asian food to go for my dinner and after a two hour commute due to train closures coming and going to and from Ilford I made it back to the apartment for vegging out watching the TV and eventually sleep.

Today I don’t really have anything planned for the most part I’ve seen all the museums I want to see in London. So I think this is the plan, I am going to go find what they call an “Eerie Pub” which Carol Godwin suggested to me. It is located near St. Paul’s and it has a Gothic theme so I plan on trying one of their “Seven Deadly Sins” cocktails and reading some more Robert Burns. Then I think I will go find Fleet Street for some photo opportunities and finally settle myself in Hyde park, this is of course if it doesn’t rain!

Peace and Love,
Rebeccaoutside of the globeoutside of the globeGREAT! group of Buskers I listened to almost an hour!GREAT! group of Buskers I listened to almost an hour!

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