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The London Trip - Day 6 - Earls Court, British Museum, Macbeth
12th February 2003
I was up early, and down to breakfast for another big feed on my own, peacefully listening to the news and watching squirrels bait the cats. This morning another guest arrived and sat where Eric used to sit. Sally arrived, and we chatted a little. She's a programmer too, AS400s and RPG. It was an interesting chat, learning about the state of IT industry and work possibilities.
After breakfast, I told Brian I was leaving and he got the bill ready for me. £200 for the 5 days was pretty reasonable, so I paid in cash, not with a credit card. I packed, came down and said goodbye. Brian was jovial, and said several times that I hadn't been any trouble and he had the money so he was happy. I think it was his standard joke, but I was pretty happy about the whole deal too. The room was superb, the guesthouse and amenities were fine, the breakfasts were great, and Brian and Shirley were excellent hosts. I was really happy with my first B&B experience.
Across the road I spotted an Internet cafe, so I thought I would do a bit of email. I went in and I was confused. It was huge. And automated. I sat down and read the instructions. Create an email address and a password. Log on. Rejected. Create again. Rejected. Read the instructions some more. Look around and see hundreds of people using the systems, so it can't be that hard. Go and convert cash to a little ticket with a number on it. Back to the PC and try again. Rejected. I wasted half an hour trying to follow the instructions, and in the end I gave up. If I couldn't work it out quickly, then sod it, I'll go someplace else. I'm not stupid and I work with these machines all day long, but pathetic instructions are pathetic instructions, and I'm not going to bother with them.
I got back onto my Museum path and kept aiming for the British Museum. After a great number of interesting side-trips down little streets to look at bookshops and CD shops and knick-knacks, I arrived at the British Museum.
Then I spotted a small Assyrian section, and they had the two giant winged lion statues, and a reconstruction of the gate between them. Very effective. They had the original remains of the gate to the right, but they had used new wood and copies of the gate-bands to reconstruct the gate. The wood glowed with a coppery hue.
It was too early to go to the theatre for Macbeth yet, so I headed in the general direction and just looked around. It was raining, again, surprise, surprise. I wandered up and down Charing Cross Road, and along Shaftesbury Avenue and spend a bit of time at Cambridge Circus. That's where I spotted this ominous sign.
It was getting on by now, so I wanted to get to the theatre. Except I didn't quite know where the Albery Theatre was. So I headed back to where I had started that morning, and stopped at a very upmarket Italian cafe for a restorative espresso and a chance to check my map out of the rain. Aha, I was close. I walked down a bit further, switched streets and came back up and found the theatre. I also spotted the cafe through a side-street so if I had known the area better I could have saved myself some walking. While I was walking around, I spotted the guy with the great metal hole in his ear. That was so distinctive.
I stood up and walked around to warm up. Walked across the road and got a good photo of the theatre.
The autograph hunters started looking despondent.
The others started looking at their watches. And one by one they drifted away. When the young woman near me went away, I went inside and sat down on a bench. It was on top of a radiator. Oh the bliss. I warmed up.
Five minutes later, Sean Bean came in escorted by a minder. He was short and rough looking. The minder left and Sean scooted inside. No-one else seemed to notice. Five minutes after that, the young autograph hunter came in and stood exactly where Sean Bean had knocked. If she had waited five minutes longer or come back five minutes earlier, she would have met him.
Now that I was inside and warming up, I was able to take notice of the theatre. The theatre was an old one, and looked like it had been refurbished recently. It was a very attractive theatre. Time to take our seats and the inside was interesting. It looked like the theatre in the Blackadder shows when he's major-domo to the Prince of Wales. I was downstairs in the flat section, close to the stage and had a great view. There were boxes on the sides, so close to the stage. Confectionery was sold inside. Programs were sold inside. Most of the staff seemed to be Russian.
The play started with a crash, the crowd jumped and oohed and talked, and kept talking till way after the play started. But it did eventually die down. The audience was more responsive, more restive and rowdy. It was interesting to see the difference in audiences between Australia, the USA and the UK.
The play was pretty vibrant. Mostly good actors, but a few duds, but that's just my arrogant opinion, and they probably suited local taste more than they suited mine. Sean Bean panted a lot and sprayed spittle a lot. When he did the topless bit, he was completely shaved, armpits and all. But he was good. Brutal and ambitious and occasionally cowardly. Bean did a good job of it. I don't know much about the accents, but the Scottish accent gave the play more emphasis. I had to struggle to interpret the words at times, sort of like having to concentrate harder when you're watching a subtitled foreign film. Samantha Bond played her part really well. I was very impressed with her work. The play was really enjoyable. I didn't get bored, despite having done Macbeth at school, which is usually enough to kill any work of literature for me. The brutal thuggish killer stood out. He was good. I was a bit taken aback by Malcolm's upchuck after seeing his father's corpse. And I wasn't particularly thrilled about all the modern uniforms. That was a bit too reminiscent of the film version of Jesus Christ Superstar. And I felt a bit uncomfortable when there were three guys at the front of the stage aiming automatic weapons into the audience and it looked like they were pointing at me. The three witches were cute young women in evening gowns, and that was a very nice touch. All in all, I liked it a lot. I was really glad I went and saw it.
Walked back to Embankment with the theatre crowd, took the train to Earls Court, set the alarm and immediately went out like a light. Early day tomorrow.