The Humble Tour — Week 1: Friday (London)

After yesterday’s super insanity, I wanted to take it easy today. Spent the morning and most of the afternoon lounging around, raiding my friend’s fridge and cupboards, catching up on a bit of television (BBC’s “Shakespearean” Upstart Crow had me in stitches), planning more of my itinerary, booking more train tickets, and so on. In fact, I didn’t leave my friend’s cosy flat until around 4:30pm, and that was only because I wanted to catch the 5pm Choral Evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Yeah, I’m a confused agnostic…

Whenever I’m sitting in on a service (as opposed to singing in one), I’m always struck by how the acoustics tend to go all over the place, and anyone beyond the quire can only hear consonants and very little of the actual words. St. Paul’s, with its massive dome, is notorious for eating up any kind of enunciation. There were also some particularly dodgy notes sung (especially in the Ayleward Responses, which I’ve known well from both Durham and Belfast), but overall, it was a lovely experience in its familiarity.

I might even go so far to say I felt “cleansed” afterward. Confused agnostic, at your service.

St. Paul's Cathedral.

St. Paul’s Cathedral.

I then meandered across the Millennium Bridge to visit the South Bank, one of my favourite places in London. Today was pretty cold and dreary (around 13 degrees Celsius—yeah, that’s not summer!), but when I’m in London, I find I don’t really mind too much.

The Millennium Bridge from Bankside.

The Millennium Bridge from Bankside.

Of course, I had to stop by the Globe. Every time I’ve come to London, I’ve always visited the Globe in some capacity. Traditions must be upheld, I guess. I’d arrived at around 6pm, and while the evening’s 7:30pm performance of The Taming of the Shrew was sold out, the returns queue was very short, and, being the faux Brit I’ve become, I automatically joined it. A ticket for £20 came up very quickly, but it was a restricted view, and I wanted to be a Groundling, and I made the executive decision to walk away from the Globe because I’ll be in Stratford-upon-Avon soon enough, and I already have two tickets to the RSC, and I’m going to Doctor Faustus tomorrow, and I really ought to broaden my horizons beyond the Renaissance.

That being said, I completely agree with this bin:

Yes, I did indeed photograph a rubbish bin.

Yes, I did indeed photograph a rubbish bin.

Crisis averted, I walked along the Thames towards Blackfriars to collect some of the train tickets for my English Dream Trip. And then spent a good 15 minutes fiddling with the machine, because golly, I had many tickets under many booking codes…

All the tickets!!

All the tickets!!

Still without any plans for the evening, I decided to keep walking until I reached the National Theatre and the BFI, just in case something tickled my fancy at either. The National Theatre had a few standby tickets left for two of their shows, and I decided to go for The Threepenny Opera, which is a translation of a “play with music” based on a German adaptation of John Gay’s 18th-century The Beggar’s Opera. And since it was only £15 for a ticket normally priced at £50, and Rory Kinnear was in the lead role, I simply couldn’t resist.

Had a quick dinner of garlic and cauliflower soup (£4.95), which was perfect for such a cold day, and then settled into my seat. Overall, the play was very quirky and had some hilarious moments, though some bits were bordering the line (and completely unsuitable for children, which made me wonder why there was a boy in the row in front of me). The music wasn’t my cup of tea (yeah, I’m an old fart like that), but I did adore two things about the production: the incredible staging and theatricality, and the fantastic Rory Kinnear. I’m very glad I went, and walked back with a bounce in my step (intermittently halted by drunk and/or staggering pedestrians manoeuvring the sidewalks on a Friday evening).

From the National Theatre during the intermission. The sky is as cloudy as ever.

From the National Theatre during the intermission. The sky is as cloudy as ever.

Dropped by a Tesco on the way home to pick up some cleaning things for my friend’s place (hey, I gotta be useful in some way!) as well as some food, which I’ll include in tomorrow’s tally thingy. I know I didn’t do much at all compared to yesterday, but golly, I am very happily exhausted.

Accommodation: Free (yayayay friends!)
Transportation: Nil
Food: £4.95
Tickets: £15
Total: £19.95
Walked: 9,061 steps; 6.46km

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