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(Old) Project Petticoat – Day Four

(Originally Posted on October 26, 2008)

Sorry for the lack of updates. It’s again a matter of time, energy, and wanting to keep the pictures uploaded at the same pace. I only have two more days to go, though, so please be patient! 🙂

Day Four – London
October 13, 2008

I had no idea the pain could be this strong
I had no idea the nights could last this long
In my darkest fears the rights become the wrongs
I am still running, I am still running
-I am Still Running, Jon Foreman

I decided against eating breakfast because of the nausea the day before. We took the tube to the Tower of London. We got there early, so we walked down to look at the Tower Bridge. Then we got in line. There was a whole row of ticket booths, but we didn’t know who would open, so everyone pretty much guessed and stood there waiting. At first, only two ticket booths opened, neither of which was the one we were in line for. Most people moved to get into the super long line at the open places. I told Nicole that I’d rather wait and be absolutely sure they weren’t going to open one near us than walk for blocks to get in line with the other people. So we staid put. There were some foreigners in front of us (Swedish? I forget). They were pretty funny. Apparently the man knew someone who worked there, and he was convinced that person would come open up the booth for our line. After about ten, fifteen minutes a woman walked up to a booth nearby. The whole line (made up of about ten people now) shifted to follow her, which was sort of funny. It took her another ten minutes to go get her coffee, come back, and open it up. But we were ultimately rewarded because we were third in line.

We entered the Tower and walked through the Medieval Palace. They had some fabrics with cushioning that you could feel, like little hand-sized pillows. One had straw, one had hair, and one had feathers. The hair one felt gross. I don’t know, there’s just something about the texture that makes my skin crawl.

After that, we went to the Ivory Tower. The first room was filled with old guns, even pillars of guns! I thought it was pretty impressive. We went through several weapons rooms. I remember going through a room filled with kings’ armor and wooden horses. It was pretty neat, and I thought of my dad and Laura, and how much they’d be drooling. Besides that, there were a lot of spiraling staircases and some more weapons.

Then we went to see the crown jewels. They had two rooms playing Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. (I was again reminded of Doctor Who.) We went through a hallway of sceptors. Then we went through a few rooms with other smallish stuff. When we got to the crowns, we had to get on a moving walkway. (Which actually is a good idea. Otherwise no one would be able to see them.) The only crown I really liked was Queen Victorian’s little diamond one. Every other crown was too elaborate for me. I don’t know, when something’s covered in lots of sparkling jewels it starts looking like plastic bling…? >.< Sorry, England.

When we were done with that, we went into the cafe and got lunch. I had Pepsi, a cheesy scone (which was very good, though I didn’t finish it), and a piece of broccoli (my nod to veggies…and, erm, I only took like two bites of it–not my fault! it was hard as a rock!).

After this we headed out. I probably would have stayed longer with Laura or Brooke, but left to myself and Nicole (we both like to go in, see things, go on) it was fine to keep going. Once you’ve seen dark stair cases and dank rooms, they all start to look pretty much the same. I do wish I knew more English history, so that I could know what awful deeds happened in the rooms we popped through.

We caught the underground to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. At first, I had put this on my maybe list. Since it isn’t the real thing, I didn’t absolutely need to see it. But we found ourselves with a lot of time, and figured it wouldn’t hurt. We walked around St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was very beautiful, and over a bridge. The bridge had speakers, which played a soundtrack of seagulls squawking and waves splashing.

We went to the Globe, got some tickets for a tour, and then we walked around the expedition looking at quotes, costumes, etc. That’s were I found the quote by Bernard Levin, which I’ve posted already. But, hey, why not quote it again!

If you cannot understand my argument, and declare it’s Greek to me, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger; if your wish is father to the thought; if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool’s paradise -why, be that as it may, the more fool you , for it is a foregone conclusion that you are,as good luck would have it, quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then – to give the devil his due – if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I was dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then – by Jove! O Lord! Tut tut! For goodness’ sake! What the dickens! But me no buts! – it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare.
-Bernard Levin

We met our tour group by a big tree. Our guide was a dirty-blond guy. He took us up into the Globe, mentioning that they were repairing the thatch roof–the first repair of a thatched roof since the 1600’s. It was really neat, even if it wasn’t the real thing. I was really glad we got to go.

A few things that are insanely interesting to me, but some might find boring (also, it will help if you’re looking at the Globe or have an idea of what it looks like–otherwise this could be massively confusing):

  • The poorest would stand in the middle of the amphitheater-type seating. They’d be drinking, eating, talking, going to the bathroom, etc., all right there. The more middle class would be in the stadium seats. The wealthy would have boxes. The very wealthy would hire a seat on the stage, in the balcony. They’d often come late, talking loudly to their friends. They’d stop the actors by making them explain what they’d missed.
  • Sometimes, to keep down the dust, blood would be poured over the floor of the poor section. This did nothing to aid the stench.
  • The idea for the design is from bear fights, where dogs would be let go to fight a chained bear. People would bet on which dog would last the longest.
  • They could make sound effects for the theater, like thunder, by rolling a cannon ball around above the stage. Some theaters even had surround sound by rolling the ball all around the audience, over their heads.
  • The Globe burned down when they shot a cannon at the audience and a spark caught in the roof. Somehow, all 3,000 people got out. The guide talked about how amazing this is, because their staircases and hallways, which are cramped for us today, were about half the width of the modern version. They had to make adjustments to fulfill the fire hazard requirements nowadays. Anyway, the only report of injury is that one man’s pants caught fire. But luckily his buddy sacrificed his beer to put out the flames.
  • Shakespeare hated having his plays preformed here, because no one listened–all the poor people were down there being rowdy, and no one else could hear. Shakespeare really wanted to graduate to preforming only for royalty.

After this, we went to the shop. You can actually visit it online here, at The Globe Shop. It’s pretty cool. I bought a few things, but sadly they didn’t have much for the comedies, which are what I’m most familiar with.

We had intended to take the Cruise on the River Thames to Tate Britain, but I was suffering severely from buyer’s regret and when I saw it’d be a forty minute wait for the boat, the desire to save money and time (the Tate was closing in about two hours) convinced me to go via metro. Unfortunately, we didn’t know which station to get off at. We exited at Westminster, and began the long trek to the museum. I should probably mention that the next hour or so was one of the most physically painful, and (as a result) emotionally difficult experiences I have been through. This has been largely cropped out of the post, because I did have a good day despite it, and I wish to continue remembering it as a good day.

When we finally got there, I left Nicole in one room with the stuff and went through the rooms. It was considerably smaller than I’d been expecting, so even when I slowed down and read each plaque I still finished in twenty minutes. I did get to see several lovely paintings, and reading the analysis of the work was very insightful. For instance, I never realized that the Lady of Shallot is preparing to die (three candles, two of which have blown out and one of which is going) and is about to let go of the chain holding her to the shore. There was another painting that reminded me slightly of North and South, just because of the costumes. I’ve forgotten the name now, but it was a girl leaning against a gate. On the other side of the gate, you can just see a guy’s hat and the top of a girl’s head. It was about betrayed love, and there were scattered rose petals at the main character’s feet to symbolize broken innocence…or something like that. Anyway. Very interesting.

We followed signs to a metro station that was closer than Westminster. When we got to the rooms, I lay down and rested for a few minutes. Then we went out to the pizza place for dinner. After that, we caught a bus to the theater. Because tonight we were going to see The Phantom of the Opera.

The drive was interesting, if only to see a million shops. The square that we ended up in reminded me a little of NY City. I’ve never been there, but it reminded me of Times Square with huge TVs with ads and lots of stores all around.

After getting lost about three times, we finally found the theater. It was old and lovely. I really, really enjoyed the play. I did not think the singing was better than the movie, but that’s probably because I’m not really a huge opera fan and the singers in the play actually sang like it was an opera. I enjoyed the acting better, though. Raoul was considerably better–they just added bits and pieces that built up to make him more manly and brave. It was fun to compare the two. There were several lines that had been kept out of the movie, but helped clear up what was going on. And the different emotions the actors and actresses used on the lines were intriguing. So yes, I liked it a lot.

I was very happy and inspired on the way home. Cedrin and Alaith (my Beauty and the Beast twist characters) were biting, and I reveled in analyzing different aspects of the play. (This is actually what resulted in a twist in Cedrin’s character.)

We arrived at the hotel late, and after quick showers we went to bed.

A few galleries for those who are interested:
A few details from the Tate Britain
Costume pictures from the Globe
Some armor and weapons from the Tower of London

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