Friday 2 November 2012
Terrible to not be able to sleep in when on vacation! After getting up so early yesterday and getting in to bed very late last night, it was awful having to struggle out of bed this morning and “Cookie” slept like a dead. I had to admonish her to get out of bed if we were going to stand at the Imperial War Museum’s steps when they opened at 10:00. We stopped at Boots, to get ourselves breakfast. The only thing “Cookie” would agree to eating was an Atkins bar. There was no time to fight her on that. And off we were. Only to be joined in our carriage by very young RAF cadets. Honestly, they did not look older than 13-14! They were going to IWM and then to the Bomber Command Memorial and the Arthur Harris statue at St. Clement Danes. I wish we had had the time as well, to copy their plans.
We arrived before that whole RAF group, thank heavens, and stood right by the door. When they opened, I told “Cookie” to run to the front of the queue maze. I was right on her heels. The young boy standing there, told us what we already knew. That they must do a 10 minute test run of the blitz experience before we could go down. So we waited 10 minutes and saw more and more people arrive behind us. Finally it was time for us to go down. I hope it meant something for “Cookie”. She did enjoy it but realized, like me, that it is crazy this thing, all Londoners suddenly wanting to go and experience it. They have had years and years to do so. And they can go in July 2013 again. Let the tourist get in now!
We bought Spitfire planes for her younger brothers. Last time I was there, I bought the Red Arrows planes. We also bought a book for Daniel on how to draw soldiers since he loves drawing that in particular. By now we were very thirsty and went and bought ourselves diet cokes. We were just about to sit down when the fire alarm went off. This elderly man looked at us like we started it or something. Staff started admonishing everyone to get out but there was no panic. The British walked out with their tea mugs and cake plates. We brought our coke bottles and joined them. We saw people reluctantly leaving the Blitz Experience queue. Some had stood there for a long time, and I can imagine what it would have felt like to give up your front place and perhaps having to start all over when getting in again. Horrible! We all got out on the steps and thought that enough, but the staff almost screamed at us, to get as far away from the museum as possible. “Cookie” and I walked towards the bottom of the garden, meeting an American and his son on the way. I told them that the building was being evacuated and noone would be let in, that the fire alarm was on, but he just ignored me. We saw him walk all the way up to the staff, against the grain of people coming out, and being told to back off. What is wrong with people? When everyone is moving away and you hear loud bells, is that not an indication that something is wrong? “Cookie” and I drank our cokes and then decided to move away and head to the Cabinet War Rooms. We did not stay to find out if there was a fire or a bomb threat. I told “Cookie” that if they find an abandoned bag in London, they treat it like a bomb till proven wrong. It must have been something like that since they asked us to get as far away from the museum as possible.
We went to Waterloo station and headed for the Millenium Bridge, that is a walking bridge. My feet hurt too much last time I was here, so I could not walk to it and over it. But this time, I was going to do it, even though I had already started to feel that I might have my first water blister. “Cookie” thought it was very, very exciting and so did I. We took lots of photos of St. Paul’s and the London Eye, that she wanted to go on. But I doubt it was running. We never saw it move during our walk and I did not fancy standing in a long queue for it, because face it, London is not warm at this time of the year. We are very cold ALL of the time. When we got to the Embankment side, we took the tube to Westminster. It was funny, because “Cookie” said “Oh, can’t we go and see Big Ben?”. So I told her, “Look up” and she started giggling since we were standing right below it. We took lots of photos and walked over so she could stand in one of the phone boxes and be photographed inside and outside of it. From there we walked to Cabinet War Rooms. We had limited time there, so we mostly kept to the walking tour with audio guides. The Churchill Museum inside the War Rooms themselves, can take forever to get through if one looks at everything. But there were some things she just had to see, according to me, and those were his siren suit, his cigar, his bowler, his bow tie but most of all, she had to watch the films with former co-workers in the underground war rooms, that described what he was like to work with and what he was like as a person. As usual we had fun in the souvenir shop but did not spend too much since I do not dare to buy too many heavy books. When done at the museum, we headed to 10 Downing Street so she can recognize having been there, when it’s shown on the news. Of course one can’t go in to the street at all, so she might not recognize it anyway but still…
Now we had a choice of what to do. Head straight to Victoria & Albert Museum, or head back to the hotel with the bulky bags full of Spitfires in bulky packaging. We opted for the hotel since we did not want to sit with those bags between our feet at the theater. That made us loose a lot of time but it was nice getting rid of the bags. Then on to V&A. But when we arrived there, we discovered yet another queue. This time, it was for “Hollywood Costumes” and “Ballgowns”. The two pay for exhibitions. I had only intended to go to the Ballgowns one but when “Cookie” saw that one gets to see “Dorothy’s” clothes and shoes, from “The Wizard of Oz”, she wanted to go to the “Hollywood Costume” one too. But the queue did not move. A man walked by and said “Anyone for just Ballgowns?”. I asked him about it and he said we could skip the queue and go with him but next available tickets for Ballgowns, were for 17:30. These tickets are timed! 17:30! Then we would have half an hour to look before we needed to head for the theater to fetch our tickets that had to be fetched at 18:30. “Cookie” and I decided we had to go back to V&A some other day. We looked at all the clothes that one could see for free and then we headed for the tube. We stopped on the way, since we saw a fast food Chinese place. I loved the food, but “Cookie” just played with hers so I lost my patience with her. She had to take it with her in a bag since we had to be on the move.
We got to Covent Garden in time to visit the Radley shop! Hooray! T. had persuaded me to not bring my heavy wallet. I carried my cards around my neck, especially after he was pick pocketed in Paris! But in the Radley shop, I just had to buy this wallet that was on sale. I just love it but T. will have a cow and a fit over it. So I will not show it to him. Classic woman thing to do right?
From Radley’s, we walked over to the Tintin shop to drool in the window. They closed already 17:30 so we have to go back there too. Then we walked down towards Covent Garden and “Cookie” spotted the Disney shop. She just had to go in there of course. Well, I love it too but hate their prices. When we found this box with a double decker from “Cars 2”, we just had to buy that for little “Sparky” for Christmas. We also found a box with his beloved “Ramone” and “Lightning MacQeen” in his pretty paintjob. They only had one of that box and it was standing very high up. I spotted this bored man, that was very tall. “Cookie” said, “ask him to help us get it down”. I stood for five minutes before I dared to. At first his girlfriend/wife looked at me strangely when I asked him if I could ask him for some help, but she smiled when I pointed at the box with the cars, standing so high up and asking him if he could reach it. He was glad to help and asked if he could get something more down for me! So now I have officially started my Christmas shopping!!! We walked out and I told “Cookie” that Covent Garden is where “Eliza” stood selling all her flowers in “My Fair Lady”. It made her excited to find out but we had to rush on to the theater by now.
It was a little bit difficult to find it without a map, but we managed. It was so exciting to go to the theater again after so many years. I just love it. And I love the music in this production so much that I was giddy like a school girl about the whole thing. I meant for “Cookie” to have got to see the film with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, before we went, but we ran out of time. But I told her that I sat and watched films like this through all my growing up years and that I told everybody that my dad was not my real dad, that Fred Astaire was my dad. I thought Fred Astaire was much more exciting than my dad and who would not want a dad that can tap dance and looks so much like a gentleman?We bought a brochure on the musical to get all the photos and also the CD. Sad they do not sell DVDs so we could watch it over and over again because it was absolutely great! When the music started playing I WAS IN HEAVEN! And when the curtains went up, I almost gasped since the actor that plays “Dr. Sam Strachan” in the TV series I watch almost daily, “Holby City”, played Astaire’s role of “Jerry”. He is gorgeously handsome so to get to sit and watch him for hours that evening, was a wonderful treat. And what a surprise that he can TAP DANCE, SING and dance BALLROOM!!!! I am mighty impressed with British actors and their versatility. I always have been, but now I am even more so. I wanted Daniel there, since he watches “Holby City” with me when he can, and wants updates when he can not.
The funny thing was that when I looked around me in the theater, “Cookie” and I were the youngest people there! Average age was about 70! Oh, who cares? We had two funny old ladies beside us that said that they did not understand why it was so difficult to stand up to let people in to the row and out, since they had been sitting on a coach all day. I suspect that a lot of the people that evening had traveled from all over Britain to see the show. Well worth it! The sad part was that “Cookie” could not follow along with all the pun on words. And she did not understand why “Horace’s” gentleman’s gentleman “Bates” was so funny. A regular Jeeves. But she has not read or seen P.G. Wodehouse. Later on when he started disguising himself in Venice, then she could laugh at him though. And she really loved the funny scenes with “Beddini”, especially when he tries to kill “Horace” with a letter knife and calls it a sword! But when he sings the song about Latinos being the greatest lovers, and starts undressing, she did not find it funny at all. Us grown up women laughed so we cried though. Because the last thing he was, was sexy. First he started unbuttoning his shirt and I started to think, well this is 1935, and men wore funny underwear so it is not going to be sexy but everyone thinks it is going to be so. And sure enough, it was an under shirt in cream colour with a slit in the front. He opened it up a little to show chest hair and we laughed. Even more so when he showed a nipple. So silly! Then he started on his trousers and I thought, well they wore sock suspenders so… And sure enough. His so called sexy undershirt was indeed a one piece that stretched down towards his knees where the suspenders for his black socks took over the look and of course he kept them on as well as his long socks! And then he started flexing his muscles. By now, the women on the right half of the theater were screaming with laughter and I had completely lost it myself and was laughing so hard I was crying because he looked so silly! Strange, I did not hear the men laugh though!Great, I have just located a picture of the whole thing! I told “Cookie” that when she gets older, she will understand why it was so funny! That men that think they are so handsome, rarely are. My favourites of the show were all the beautiful clothes, and the dresses of course that was worn by the girl playing Ginger Rogers’ role. I studied every detail and would not mind wearing them myself. Who cares they are 1930s style? I loved them! And the stage workers were great. They kept on changing the stage all the time and one did not even notice for the most part. Like when “Jerry” dances and disturbs “Miss Tremont” in the room below at the beginning. I wondered how they would show that. Well, “Jerry” starts dancing and then moves over to the left of the stage. Then you see half the stage becoming a two floor room. The lower room has a big bed where “Miss Tremont” wakes up from the noise and then you see a tap dancer dancing away in the top room. He is just a dark shadow with light behind, while “Jerry” dances on the left side of the stage. SO well done! They did things like that throughout.
I just had to add this picture from my favourite scene and dance. Just fantastic. You just want it to last forever. When the show was over and the actors came forward for applause, it wasn’t really over. They came in and did another number and they took their bows again and the orchestra played the music again and again. And we all sang along. What a feeling!!! Too bad one can only remember it now in one’s head. And of course sing along with my new CD! What a wonderful end to a day though!
Walking out of the theater, the elderly ladies that had sat beside us, stopped to chat with a man they knew. One of the ladies had spoke with him during the break, when I went to the lavatory. When I got back, she told me that he had said that he is training old ballet dancers to tap dance, because it is easy on the body. Now she was thinking about taking it up. This was the man, they stopped to talk to. The funny thing was walking by him and hearing him say “Yes, I liked it but that thing about taking his clothes off, that was too much”. I wanted to say that it was a hilarious part. But the elderly lady that had spoken to me a lot, said “oh it was good clean fun, the WHOLE thing!”. Well said. I guess men felt threatened by it?