Kings, Jewels, and Shakespeare
Today we have a date with Will. Shakespeare, that is. In his theater, the Globe. The Tempest. At 2pm. And we are no groundlings, nay, we sit in the balcony. For that is the nature of the day.
But first, a little history. One of the best ways to get a feel for London is through it’s past, and there’s no greater concentration of British history than in the Tower of London. A palace, a prison, a repository for jewels and armor, a church and burial ground, so much has happened here in the past thousand years. Much of this is brought to life by the Yeoman Warders, the “Beefeaters”, the kings bodyguard. Only those with 22 unblemished years of British armed forces experience need apply. They tell the stories and lead you through the center of the Tower complex with grisly tales of beheadings and intrigue. But first, a visit to the crown jewels before the line gets too long. Yes, the jewels are impressive – the largest flawless cut diamond in the world is here – The Star of Africa – but it’s not just the big rocks. It’s imagining the rooms, the events, the ceremonies that these objects have participated in. Oh, if only they could talk!
We can’t stay long at the Tower, though. Shakespeare calls and we need to get some sustainment before the play. We reunite with Morgan (what did we do before cell phones?) who has been exploring on his own, cross the Tower Bridge and walk along the Embankment toward the theater. We stop for a nice lunch and now we’re ready for the play. I was lucky to find four seats – but not together – two and two, but that’s ok. The boys sit on one side and we girls on the other. Before we enter the theater, we go across the street to Starbucks (!) to get some water and a gluten free brownie to enjoy during the show.
And what a show it is! OK, I confess that this would not be my first choice of theater in London. And I really knew nothing about the play and was a little afraid I’d get lost in the Shakespearian dialect. But boy, was I pleasantly surprised! There are no mics in the open air theater, but we could hear the actors just fine. The story was clear – a humorous tale of magic and forgiveness. It was fun to see the actors mess with the people standing near the stage and how they incorporated the roar of a jet overhead or the two pigeons mating on the roof into the show. These are not second-rate actors, either. Anna recognized an actor from the BBC show Merlin and the male lead played Illirio in season 1 of Game of Thrones. What an amazing experience!
Afterward, in the glow of an excellent show, we walked next door to see some art at the Tate Modern. I leave the kids for a bit to find a room full of my favorite modern, Mark Rothko. Something about his blocks of color really move me. After 15 minutes here, all is right with the world. Hungry, we walk across the pedestrian bridge (the one the death eaters destroyed in the last Harry Potter), past St. Paul’s Cathedral (very expensive to get in) to Covent Garden. Here they have many food stalls and stores and I let the kids free for a bit to find their own dinner and do some last minute London shopping. Morgan wants to walk back to the Mansions, but Anna, Jon, and I hail a taxi and get to the apartment in time to relax a bit and pack for our departure tomorrow.
What a great day! As my friend Will would say, “All’s Well that Ends Well.