Thursday, December 11, 2008

London VI: A Girl's Wanderings

OK, to be fair I have put this off a lot longer than I should have. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy my return to London -- if you've been paying attention you know why -- but it does mean that I'm lazy. Being at home again, any urge I had to become a remotely productive member of society has completely disintegrated into a desire to sleep for 10 hours a night. My jet-lag isn't a problem any more, thanks for asking! Anyways, this time I went to London on my own to see the RSC's production of Hamlet. I spent two days and one night wandering the streets, getting a feel for the places I would have liked to go last time but couldn't quite squeeze in.

I started off at Piccadilly Circus to do some last minute Christmas shopping, and then I moved up into the financial district. I finally got to St. Paul's, but there weren't any open positions on the tour so -- yet again! -- I didn't get to go in. We're going to rectify that problem some day, but in the mean time I'm going to gripe and show off my photos from the outside.

After seeing St. Paul's and watching the cutest gay couple I've ever seen feed a morbidly obese squirrel, I crossed the street towards the Thames and walked across the Wobbly Bridge (Millennium Bridge if you want to get all specific about it). It's a fun place. For a bridge, I mean. It's pedestrians only, and it goes right through the heart of the city, connecting either side of the trails along the Thames. As you might expect, it's covered in tourists looking for a good shot of The Globe (we'll get there in a moment) and the outside of the Tate Modern (we'll get there too), as well as an assortment of London joggers and marathon runners on any given day. If someone doesn't run you over and knock you about, you're simply not crossing the bridge with enough gusto. Get back in the game and play some human bumper-car.

Once I got to the other side, I decided to tour The Globe. I wanted to do this the first time I came to London with my Dad, and I wanted to do it earlier this semester with Chad and Gager. Needless to say, none of those ever panned out for me, so I took it upon myself to see it. Admission is a bit pricey -- £8.50 for a student, and they really only walk you around for 45 minutes and then turn you loose in the gift shop -- but I think it was worth it. Besides, they aren't publicly funded and they really need the money. (Their pillars are a bit dingy and they pay an astronomical sum each year for the privilege of keeping a thatched roof in London. London and thatching don't get along so well, if you remember...)

In fact, The Globe and thatching have a quite torrid past as well. In 1613 the players decided they really needed a live cannon for the audience to fully appreciated Henry VIII. Well, they fired it -- from the top of the platform right into the thatched roof opposite it. No one was hurt, but one guy did have to put out a fire on his buddy's pants by dumping beer on it. It just goes to show you that you should never piss off your stage hands; we (am I part of this group any more? Meh, once a techie always a techie) are kind of crazy and don't have "good sense." I hope I can return to London and see a performance at The Globe some day (that's probably one of the few things the city offers -- besides international airports -- with enough allure to draw me back; I don't really care for London).

I then tried to tour the Tate Modern. I say tried, in that I really didn't give it a fair break. Aside from a select few pieces, I really don't like modern art, which -- in all fairness -- I didn't know before my trip to the Tate. So you see, I learned something! And yes, I know that all modern art isn't dead seagulls and broken glass; I'd like to spare myself the "what is and is not art" lecture, if that's OK with you. I do have to wonder about Michael's thoughts on modern art conservation, though. How does one preserve two arrows, two seagulls, and two walls? It's not like the display can ever be moved, isn't the placement and positioning part of the art when it's got that graffiti-esque aspect to it? Well, I'm not too worried about it. I can't imagine anyone in 300 years will be overly-worried if that wall has to go down for the new Nuclear Waste Tic Tacs display.

I did see one piece I liked, though. Joseph Beuys' The Pack was eye-catching and provocative. I imagined a scenario in which the people suddenly vanished, and the sleds -- finding themselves with higher thought -- decide to carry on the invasion anyways. They look like cockroaches scurrying after their dark, secure hiding place is broken open and exposed to the light.

After I had my fill of dead birds and broken glass, I decided to take a walk down the Thames. I started at the Tate and wandered all the way back to Victoria (where my hostel was) throughout the day. My favourite place was Gabriel's Wharf. I met a homeless man under one of the bridges, bought him a hot tea, gave him my change, and chatted with him for a few minutes. Nothing too groundbreaking happened, but I'm still glad that I got the chance to talk to him. I'm a big fan of the UrbEx Anthropology movement (in fact, you're reading the blog of one of its founding members).

I went a bit further down the Wharf and met a nice Irish man who was doing "sand sculpture" in a blue silk vest. He probably should have taken his supplies down to the Tate, they would have appreciated it more. Anyways, we chatted for a while and he was more than happy to answer my questions (namely, why are you wearing a silk vest in the mud?). Turns out that's just his hobby, and he enjoys doing it. I understand the draw -- my Dad and I used to build gigantic sand alligators and fortresses when we went to the beach, and other tourists would stop to take pictures of them -- just not the draw in December! Brr.

I felt a little too embarrassed to photograph this next bit, but I still stood and stared at it for a few minutes. There was an Asian couple who had positioned their son against the guard rail with the Thames in the background, and the father was snapping pictures runway-style. The mother, on the other hand, was throwing bread crumbs at her child's head so that the gigantic, ravenous sea gulls would flock around him and create an Alfred Hitchcock effect. The worst thing is, they stood there doing that for at least 5 minutes. What kind of stupid kid stands there and lets his mom turn him into a suet stick in public? Something's wrong with today's youth, I'm telling you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah Rachel I love reading your blogs... I'm sorry they are over... At least for now!! Theres always Peru. Love Mom