London Archives

June 21, 2005

Happy Solstice!

Today is the longest day of the year and the official beginning of summer. The only down side I see is that the days will start getting shorter.

I woke up early in Dingle, drove to the Kerry airport (which being so small, was a breeze to get through) and arrived in London Stansted Airport 20 minutes ahead of schedule--a fortuitous event that was more than canceled out by delays of over 90 minutes on the train to the city.

I took in as much of London as I could and also treated myself to two movies: a matinee of Batman Begins, which was pretty good, and a creepy indie flick called Mysterious Skin later at night.

June 22, 2005

London Town

Samuel Johnson wrote "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life."

I woke up and had breakfast over three newspapers: The Daily Telegraph, the slimmed-down foreign version of USA Today, and the indispensable International Herald Tribune.

I spent the late morning doing some shopping--mostly music I can't get back home--but I also got custom fitted for some tennis shoes at Harrod's.

After getting lucky picking up a primo theater ticket at the box office, I had lunch near Victoria Station at ASK--which I learned on the squash tour in March is pronunced "A-S-K" rather than "ask."

In the afternoon I made my way out to Wimbledon to take in some grass court tennis action.


The evening activity du jour was Billy Elliot: The Musical, a new offering on the West End. The show was spectacularly good--a very pleasant surprise, as it was my second choice (I got shut out of the Guys and Dolls revival starring Obi-Wan, er . . . Ewan McGregor). On my way home after the performance, I passed by the stage door and who whould walk right by me into a fancy black Rolls-Royce but ELTON FRIGGIN' JOHN! (He wrote the music for this show, as he did for The Lion King.) Sir Elton has had many incarnations over the years, but for someone like me who grew up in the 1970s, he was for a while quite simply the biggest rock star in the world, so it was a thrill to see him up close and personal. I am reminded of my last night in London two years ago, walking home from the theatre on a lovely June evening and meeting Patrick Stewart on the street.

Tomorrow afternoon I fly back to New York and Friday morning I will begin drifting through a series of meetings to mark the beginning of summer school.

June 23, 2005

Last Day In Europe


I am in the Apple Store on Regent Street in London right now, enjoying my last few hours before heading to Heathrow Airport. It's been HOT in London, so I'm well prepared for the likely muggy weather waiting for me back home.

June 19, 2006

Great Solution For Wireless Access


I brought my trusty iBook G4 to the Apple Store on Regent Street here in London so that--under the pretense of attending the user workshops in the small theater in the back of the store--I can access the store's free Airport network. A much better way to check email, post to the blog, etc. than paying £1 per hour on some crappy PC with limited access to my bookmarks and email accounts. Apple is great to offer folks the chance to get online at no cost while away from home.

Moreover, as my Choate email account was switched from FirstClass to Exchange yesterday, I am in the middle of trying to fine-tune Entourage and sync it with my Apple Address Book, iCal, Claris Organizer, my Palm, etc. Having Internet access makes this transition a lot easier!

June 20, 2006

Freaky Sight


I didn't notice this coming from Paris on the Eurostar two summers ago, but on my trip from Brussels yesterday, just before the train's arrival in London's Waterloo Station, there appeared this huge factory with four smokestacks in the corners--the exact building (and from the train, viewed from pretty much the same angle) pictured on the cover the Pink Floyd's Animals album from the 1970s.

Kaiten Supper


While most of England was watching the final first round World Cup game between the national squad and Sweden, I went our for a late bite to eat in the Picadilly Circus area, near my hotel. I ended up a Yo! Sushi, a chain based on the kaiten approach: each dish is placed on different color-coded plates, indicating different prices, and all the empties are counted up at the end of the meal for the bill. Customers choose their dishes as it passes by on a conveyer belt around the sushi bar. I've eaten at such places in Japan in the past. One has the advantage of selecting just what he wants as it chugs on by.

June 21, 2006

The Drawings Of Michelangelo


I went to the "Closer To The Master" exhibition at The British Museum last night, which was a display of drawings by Michelangelo over the course of his career. Many of the artist's greatest works in sculpture or paint were the products of studies in ink and paper first. The exhibit was a fascinating window into the career of one of art's all-time masters.

June 22, 2006

Goodbye To London


I'm about to head to Heathrow Airport for the flight back to the States after nearly two weeks in Europe. It's always nice to go home!

February 19, 2007

Merry Olde England


I am now settled in at my London office (a.k.a. the Regent Street Apple store, with its free WiFi).

The flights this morning were uneventful and, for a change, my Heathrow arrival gate was actually CLOSE to the arrivals hall. (Usually my gate there is a four-mile hike from the center of the terminal.) I did get grilled by a woman at Passport Control. I thought the U.S. and the U.K. enjoyed a "special relationship," but you'd have thought I presented an Iraqi passport. I had to explain my whole trip, why I stopped in England, how long I was staying, and whether I had a hotel reservation. Once I showed a ticket for my Wednesday flight, I was allowed into Britain.

I took the Piccadilly line to the Gloucester Road exit; my hotel is just a block away.

BBQ Feast In London

Met up with two Class of 2004 alums: Alejandro Lloreda and Mauricio Osorio, both from Colombia and both studying at the London School of Economics (Mauricio is on an exchange year from Middlebury). We ate at Bodeans, an American-style barbeque joint in Soho. If you go on Monday night, you can get the "burnt ends" of the brisket, which I heartily recommend.

February 20, 2007

Song Of The Day #51

A Steve Winwood song from the 1980s: "Don't You Know What The Night Can Do?" This tune was memorably used in a Michelob commercial.

Steve Winwood - Roll With It - Don't You Know What the Night Can Do?

Education In My London Office

I jokingly refer to the Apple Store here as "my London office" because I can settle in the theater in the back of the store to take advantage of the free wireless Internet access. The advantage of being here is that while getting caught up on e-mail and the Web, I can absorb the free workshops about Mac technology (using GarageBand, iMovie, etc.) from the resident Apple Geniuses.

Just Remember This


I watched one of my favorite films, Casablanca, in an actual movie theater for the first time in my life this afternoon. I still find the scene where Victor Laszlo leads the café in singing "La Marseillaise"--in the process drowning out the German song being sung by the Nazi officers--one of the most thrilling moments of the silver screen.


Horsing Around


Tonight I saw the new production--it was only the fifth performance--of Peter Shaffer's brilliant play Equus, starring Richard Griffiths (who won a Tony last year for his performance in The History Boys) and Daniel Radcliffe (a.k.a. Harry Potter; Griffiths plays Uncle Dudley in the same films, by the way). I had read the play years ago, but I now understand that to appreciate it, one has to see it staged. Anyway, in typical Ned Gallagher fashion, I scammed my way into a private question-and-answer session with the cast, director, producers, and Sir Peter Shaffer after the show (it was part of some benefit for select audience members, but I just stuck around). I met Daniel Radcliffe on my way out; I have strange luck for running into celebrities while leaving a theater in London (e.g., Patrick Stewart, Elton John).

February 21, 2007

Westward Ho!

Heading to Heathrow Airport for my trip home via Toronto.

Song Of The Day #52

In honor of my return to Wallingford: Simon & Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound."

Simon & Garfunkel - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme - Homeward Bound

June 12, 2007

Song Of The Day #163

This is "London Calling" by The Clash.

The Clash - London Calling - London Calling

When a man is tired of London . . .


. . . he is tired of life. So said Samuel Johnson, and I do believe he is correct. I am enjoying my time in this capital city once again (though I do feel like a pauper, as the already expensive cost of living here is exacerbated by a brutally weak dollar relative to sterling.)

Tonight, it's off to the opera.

The Royal Opera


I attended the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden this evening for a production of Beethoven's lone opera, Fidelio. Frankly, I was worried that the jet lag would kick in and I would be nodding off. But the opera was better than I expected, with an intriguing storyline and solid performances. Plus I think I got plenty of sleep on the flight over--more than I usually do--and a very brief nap late in the afternoon, so I didn't fade at all. My seat was in the upper slips, high up on the side of the auditorium, but it was much cheaper because of that and the view was pretty good (though stage left was mostly out of sight). A good night out.

June 13, 2007

Song Of The Day #164

"Vacation" by The Go-Gos nicely sums up my state of mind today.

The Go-Go's - Vacation - Vacation

Splendor On The Grass


Today I met up with Neal Sarwal, an Eton student who was in the South Africa program I did last summer. We arranged to rendezvous at the Barons Court tube stop and then walk down the road to Queen's Club for some tennis. The Artois Championship is the premier Wimbledon warm-up event, a tournament I have always wanted to see since the days when Connors and McEnroe played there. There's something about the red color scheme surrounding the grass courts that is visually attractive--much more so than the All-England Club's all-green look.

Practice court junkie that I am, some of the best tennis I enjoyed today was watching the workout sessions of Rafael Nadal, Marat Safin, Ivan Lubjicic, Tim Henman, the Bryan brothers, and Andy Roddick (pictured below with Jimmy Connors and brother John looking on).


Since we only scored grounds passes for the day, Neal and settled in to watch Arnaud Clement beat big-serving Aussie Chris Guccione and then Max Miryni top Gael Monfils in an entertaining three-setter on an outer court.

June 14, 2007

Song Of The Day #165

For tight vocal harmonies, no one is better than Crosby, Stills & Nash. This is "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes."

Crosby, Stills & Nash - Crosby, Stills & Nash - Suite - Judy Blue Eyes

June 22, 2007

The Strand

I arrived in London and made my way to my hotel on The Strand, just around the corner from Covent Garden. As I leave the hotel and look to right, I see Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square at the end of the street. Pretty good location.

June 23, 2007

Song Of The Day #174

This song sold a lot of ketchup back in the 1970s: "Anticipation" by Carly Simon.

Carly Simon - Reflections: Carly Simon's Greatest Hits - Anticipation

The Rise Of The Silver Surfer


I took in a movie this afternoon, the Fantastic Four sequel. The bad news: a cinema ticket in the west end set me back £13--which is nearly $26! Pretty outrageous. The good news is that the film was more enjoyable than its lukewarm reviews suggested it would be. It was nothing deep, but a fairly enjoyable comic book flick.

June 24, 2007

Song Of The Day #175

Silver rain was falling down
Upon the dirty ground of London Town

Good lyrics for a wet Sunday morning in the British capital.

Wings - London Town - London Town

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A Quiet Sunday in London

The shops in London are open between noon and 6 p.m. on Sundays, so I had a limited window to stop by my London office (a.k.a. the Regent Street Apple Store) for Internet connectivity, get some lunch, and run a few errands.

I opted not to see a West End show this trip, in part because there is nothing here I am particularly dying to see, and in part because it would cost me a fortune with the current exchange rate and I've already spent enough on this vacation. I am sorry I missed Sir Ian McKellen as Lear up in Stratford by just a day; I'd have headed north for that if the timing worked out. But instead I booked tickets today to two Broadway shows for this Wednesday: a matinee of Inherit The Wind (which I starred in as a high school senior, though not on Broadway!) and an evening production of Spring Awakening, which did so well at the Tony Awards a couple weeks back.

His Dark Materials


Tonight I finished The Golden Compass, volume one in Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy. I picked up the book in a Stockholm science fiction bookstore and it was a gripping fantasy. I can't wait to get to the sequels, which Amazon is now sending my way back home.

June 25, 2007

Song Of The Day #176

My strongest memory of this song is over the P.A. while waiting for the start of U2 on the band's last concerttour: Modest Mouse, "Float On."

Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News - Float On

The Lawn Tennis Championships


Today begins "the Fortnight." As a boy I rabidly consumed every telecast of the Wimbledon championships. The pickings were slim in those days: you were pretty much limited to what NBC aired. In the 1970s and early 1980s, that was 15 minutes of highlights each weeknight (perhaps only in the second week, at that) and tape-delayed coverage on the middle weekend. We were lucky to have "Breakfast At Wimbledon" on the finals weekend, showing the gentlemen's championship, and later the ladies' championship, live at 9 a.m., East Coast time in America. I came of age as a Wimbledon fan in the Borg era. The Swede had a stranglehold on the title, winning five in a row, and getting the final a sixth straight year. It was magic.

I went to the tournament for the first time in 1994 and have been back roughly half the years since then. It is still magic.

Rain At Wimbledon


Precipitation ruined my chances to see tennis today. Although it will likely clear up, at least for part of the day, later on, I need to get to Heathrow for an evening flight home, so I can't really afford to wait around. I made it all the way out to the All-England Club for the start of play at noon, but the skies started to open and the forecast for the afternoon is pretty dreadful. So I turned around and went back into the city.

Homeward Bound

I am preparing to swap my suitcase for a briefcase. Time to get back to work! I actually missed the first day of Choate summer school today and will need to hit the ground running for my 8:15 class tomorrow morning.

I have an evening flight that leaves from Heathrow at 8:05 and arrives at J.F.K. at 10:50. Assuming the flight is on schedule, that should get me to Wallingford by around 1:30 a.m. It still amazes me that I can have dinner in London and breakfast in my own house the very next morning!

August 8, 2008

Arrival in London

After a fairly pleasant flight, in which I got less sleep than I had hoped for mostly because Iron Man was available among the on-board video offerings, I negotiated my way through the loathsome Heathrow Airport and took the Tube to my hotel on the Strand. Much to my delight, I was able to check in early, and will be able to catch a few hours shut-eye before heading out for the day.

My Second Lear Of The Summer


I attended a performance of King Lear in the reconstructed Globe Theatre on the south bank of the Thames this afternoon. It was a generally strong production, and David Calder was excellent in the title role.

Merry Wives Of Windsor


Back to Shakespeare's Globe again this evening to see The Merry Wives Of Windsor, my first exposure to this particular play featuring a comic Sir John Falstaff. I confess to nodding off a bit here and there through the performance, mostly due to the lack of sleep I've suffered in the last day or so. But this was an entertaining show, one that gives credence to the theory that Shakespeare invented the situation comedy.

August 9, 2008


I'm about to head to Paddington Station in order to catch a train to Oxford. Once I arrive, I have a rental car waiting for the short drive up to Stratford-upon-Avon. I have a ticket to tonight's performance of The Taming Of The Shrew at the RSC. I may try to see if I can get into a sold out the matinee performance of Hamlet featuring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart this afternoon, too, though that looks like an unlikely scenario. And I'm not sure if I can sit through four long Shakespeare plays in a span of 48 hours.

August 19, 2008

A Night Out In London

After my short flight from Zurich I had (unusual) good luck in Heathrow, quickly making my way past the immigration checkpoint, getting my bag off the carousel without a wait, and then clearing customs without a hitch and catching the Piccadilly Line train to the Covent Garden stop and my hotel on The Strand. After a bit of down time to get cleaned up and changed, I had a late dinner with a Choate graduate from the Class of 1994 and seven of his friends and family members from Kuwait. We ate at Aaya, an upscale Japanese restaurant in Soho on Brewer Street, just behind the old Regent Palace hotel where I frequently stayed in London (but the huge 700+ room hotel has been shut down the last couple years). It was a spectacular meal of first-rate Japanese cuisine, and somehow somebody picked up the check for us all on the sly, so it was a real treat. I passed on the chance to go clubbing with the group afterward, knowing I've got an early flight home in the morning.

March 7, 2009

The All-England Club


We visited the All-England Club today to inspect the Wimbledon museum and take part in a behind-the-scenes tour of the club. Centre Court was not part of the tour, as the new roof is still under construction. I was also impressed by the new Court No. 2 being built where Court 13 (one of my favorites) used to sit.

We have checked into our hotel in the Colliers Wood section of London and will take the Tube into central London this afternoon.

London Town


I chose the Holiday Inn Express in Wimbledon South to avoid taking the car into central London (and facing the congestion charge) and because the hotel rates were cheaper. My ace in the hole was the Colliers Wood Undergroung station literally right across the street. So just my luck that this part of the Northern Line was shut down for the weekend! Fortunately, there was a bus added to ferry us into the city. We cruised around Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus for a while, ate at an overpriced steakhouse there, and then made our way to Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, and then along the Thames in a light rain before jumping back on the Tube and then on the bus to go back to the hotel.

August 1, 2009

Arrived In London

Made it to London. I am tight on time because I have tickets to the theater (or, theatre, as they spell it here) with a 2:30 curtain and so I took the Heathrow Express into Paddington and then had a short Underground rather than taking the Tubeall the way in; this saved me about 20 minutes or so (and I paid dearly for it!). So off I go to the Old Vic.

The Winter's Tale


The Bridge Project has been performing The Winter's Tale in repertory with The Cherry Orchard all over the world this year. I saw this Anglo-American hybrid cast do the Chekhov production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this past winter and then this afternoon caught them here in London doing the Shakespeare play. This was my first exposure to The Winter's Tale and I liked the staging by Sam Mendes quite a bit.

As You Like It


Two Shakespeare plays in seven hours, both of them new to me! It's always a treat to see something in the Globe reconstruction. As You Like It is a perfect vehicle for this space, with broad comedy, music, creative use of the stage as the forest, and some of the Bard's best dialogue. The casting was spot on and this production clearly clicked with the full house.

One could do worse than spend a summer's night in Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on the south bank of the Thames, I think!

August 8, 2009

War Horse


After a rather leisurely morning, I took the 12:45 train to London and arrived not long before curtain time, but managed to get a great seat (actually a premium seat at regular price!) for War Horse, one of this season's hottest theater tickets in the West End.

The show is visually spectacular, an engaging theatrical experience in which a team of puppeteers manipulate full-sized horses on stage. The story is about a young man who bonds with his horse in the Devon countryside, only to see it taken off in the war effort in 1914. The boy heads "over there" in search of his lost horse and at the end of the play, there were plenty of tissues dabbing at eyes. This production is well worth seeing.



I saw Oliver! this evening and felt like another West End tourist filling the theaters to see a musical. The show has a place in my heart because it was the very first play I was ever in, back in the sixth grade. So I knew all the songs pretty well and even remembered some of the dialogue bits. But my experience seeing Oliver! was slightly disappointing; I think there were better offerings on tap in London I'd rather have seen.

August 15, 2009

U2 In Wembley Stadium


I spent the evening with almost 90,000 others in Wembley Stadium seeing U2 on its 360° Tour. I was positioned just to the side of the stage, one level up, with a good view of "the Claw"--the immense staging above and around the band. Of course there is a tremendous history involving Wembley Stadium--at least the older version of this venue--and the band: U2's performance here at the "Live Aid" show 24 summers ago is what really vaulted the group into the rock stratosphere.

Musically, the highlights of tonight's show for me included two of my favorites from Achtung Baby: "Until The End Of The World" and "Ultraviolet." I also heard "The Unforgettable Fire" performed live for the first time since my very first U2 show in April 1985. (Three other songs from The Unforgettable Fire album--"Pride," "MLK," and "Bad" made the set list as well.) It was good to hear the tunes from the new album, too. I'm not sure I liked the dance remix of "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" as much as the original version, but the song that is sticking in my head after the concert is "Unknown Caller," which I hadn't paid much attention to before. That's one nice element of seeing a band live: getting to appreciate songs that I hadn't previously.

The set list:

No Line On The Horizon
Get On Your Boots
Beautiful Day
Until The End Of The World
New Year's Day
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Unknown Caller
Unforgettable Fire
City Of Blinding Lights
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (Remix)
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Pride (In The Name of Love)
Walk On
Where The Streets Have No Name

With Or Without You
Moment Of Surrender

August 16, 2009

Two "Problem Plays" Today


I debated whether to see another play this afternoon or to enjoy an unstructured afternoon in London. But the National Theatre's current production of All's Well That Ends Well got strong reviews and the tickets cost only £10, so I figured I might as well take advantage of the opportunity to see another show.

I'm glad I saw it. The director/designer pair was the same that worked on War Horse, which I enjoyed immensely last weekend. The staging cleverly evoked the fairy tale quality of the story, and I thought the expressions on the faces of the actors playing Helena and Bertram in the closing moments of the play effectively captured the "problem" that critics have found in this work: the "happy ending" may not, in fact, be so happy.

Troilus And Cressida


It was an ideal night for a production at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on the south bank of the Thames: the weather was ideal and the play itself was thoughtfully executed. I sat in the first row of the middle level, and I felt as though I was right on top of the action. Of the various vantage points I've had in this space the past couple of years, I'll have to remember Bay E on the middle level, A13, as just about the perfect seat!

Troilus And Cressida is another of the Bard's "problem plays"--works that do not fall neatly into the established categories of histories, tragedies, and comedies. Because the two title characters do not end up together in the end, it's not a conventional comedy, but neither of them meets a tragic end, either. I can see why this play--one of the least performed in the canon--enjoyed a resurgence of popularity after the horrors of World War I, for its open as it is about the horrors of war itself.

Tonight's show effectively blended humor, music, battle scenes, and effective acting to produce a satisfying night of theater.

Who Says Statistics Always Lie?

Seen on the Internet tonight--about as accurate a statistical graph as I can imagine:

August 19, 2009

Layover In London

Happily--and surprisingly--I was able to check my bags through to New York at the Prague Airport, which saved me some schlepping from (the lovely) Terminal 5 to (the barely tolerable) Terminal 3 here in Heathrow. I also checked in for my American Airlines flight to JFK there, so this layover is pretty relaxed.

March 9, 2010

An Unusually Pleasant Heathrow Experience

Enjoyed a pleasant flight over the Atlantic. When I checked in at JFK, I moved my seat so that the one next to me was unoccupied (one of the virtues of electronic check-in at the kiosk) and I could stretch out a bit and get some sleep. On Virgin's excellent in-seat on-demand movie player, I watched the first half of Julie And Julia, which was pretty good, though not quite engaging enough to keep me awake.

We landed in London a bit early, I didn't have to walk forever (which one usually does at Heathrow) and the lines at the U.K. Border and the "in transit" security checkpoint were virtually non-existent. Picked up today's copy of The Guardian and a couple of English magazines for the SAS flight to Copenhagen later this morning.

March 12, 2010



My last night of entertainment before heading home brought me to the Haymarket Theatre to see the limited run of Ian McKellen and Roger Rees in Waiting For Godot, Irishman Samuel Beckett's best-known work in the "theater of the absurd." Part of the play's appeal is its frustration, of course, and it was fun to see it handled by two master actors.

An Afternoon In Paddington Station

Spent most of this afternoon catching up with a Choate post-graduate from the Class of 1993. He now lives in Helsinki and we had a great time reminiscing about the old days in Hill House and talking about our lives since.

March 13, 2010

From London To New York Again

I am in Heathrow's Terminal 3, having taken the Tube from my hotel on The Strand right to the airport to catch my morning flight home. It's probably safe to say I have now flown the New York-London axis more than any other air route in my life. And I figure I will do at least two more such round trips before 2010 is through.

June 13, 2010

A Blood-Drenched Macbeth


The production of Macbeth at Shakespeare's Globe was as good a presentation of "the Scottish play" as I've seen. The entire theater was done over in black, with a blood soaked backdrop, and groundlings in the yard--me included for this show--had the option of standing under a canopy extended from the stage with dozens of holes cut into it such that seemingly decapitated heads floated on a sea of black to take in the spectacle. And the show had its fair share of blood-drenched bodies and gruesome encounters, along with spooky music to add atmospheric effects. This take on Macbeth was a hellish one indeed!


Soccer Is All The Buzz


Not surprisingly, a lot of chatter around London today about yesterday's draw between England and the U.S. in World Cup soccer. This result was evidently a huge disappointment on this side of the Atlantic. Just had a good-natured exchange about the match with a quartet of locals in a restaurant here at Heathrow, who were bummed about the outcome but conceded the Yanks played well.

June 18, 2010

Terminal 5


Because I took a British Airways flight back to London from Budapest this afternoon, I finally got to experience Terminal 5, which opened in 2008. This terminal is everything the rest of Heathrow Airport is not: beautiful, airy, efficient.

June 20, 2010

Grand Slam Coaches Conference


I am attending the pre-Wimbledon coaches gathering hosted by the LTA that I have been to twice before. I've also attended the USTA's version of this conference, held on the eve of the U.S. Open, many times over the years (though that conference used to be a lot bigger than its British equivalent). And I even made it to a similar such conference in Melbourne before the 1998 Australian Open. I usually pick up a few good ideas at these workshops and meet some interesting folks as well.

June 21, 2010

Off To SW19 Today


It's the summer solstice: the longest day of the year and the official beginning of summer. No better way to spend the day than taking in The Championships at the All-England Lawn Tennis Club.

Then I fly home tonight!

June 20, 2010



On the eve of another Wimbledon, may I suggest an absolutely brilliant piece of prose: the late David Foster Wallace's "Federer As Religious Experience" essay from the New York Times in 2006. The author of Infinite Jest is able to capture--better than any writer I've seen--the magic of tennis in the hands of the world's most talented practitioners.

Ready For The All-England Club


Picked up my credential for Wimbledon today, which means I won't have to go through the hassles of sorting out tickets tomorrow morning--which usually entails queueing for hours!

June 21, 2010

Federer The Escape Artist


Spent a glorious day at the All-England Club. Watched the men's defending champion dodge the upset bullet: by all rights Roger Federer should have lost, as he was being thoroughly outplayed by Alejandro Falla. But the Colombian couldn't pull the trigger while serving for the match in the fourth set. Once that set ended, I had to head back into London to retrieve my stuff and head to the airport. But I knew Federer would survive, and sure enough he won the final set at love.

July 31, 2010

A Play Of Pageantry


Henry VIII is not performed all that often. This is a shame, because I think it's an underrated work. Scholars disagree as to how much of Shakespeare's hand is in the text. But no matter, it's a sweeping work about Tudor royalty and court intrigue best known for a couple of huge set pieces that offer a chance to display visually sumptuous costumes and sets. The OSF did that in its Elizabethan Theatre in the Ashland production I saw last summer. Shakespeare's Globe did the same tonight here in London. I appreciated the intricacies of plot a lot more the second time around, too.

In The Shadow Of St. Paul's Dome


I am staying in the City of London proper for the first time since I started frequenting the British capital in 1994. Most of the places Americans think of as "London"--Piccadilly Circus, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace--are, in fact, located in the City of Westminster. "Greater London" refers to the entire metropolis. But "the City" is the medieval core of the place, defined by just over a square mile on the north side of the Thames. It's pretty much the financial district for modern London.

The most visible landmark in the City is St. Paul's Cathedral, and from my hotel window I can see the front towers and the Dome of the imposing edifice less than a block away. I am also a 10-12 minute walk across the Thames--via theMillennium Bridge--from Shakespeare's Globe, the theater where I will be spending about 9 hours of my stay here this weekend.

La Bête


A bit of West End theater before immersing myself in Shakespeare's history plays the rest of my time in London. The first hour of La Bête was laugh-out-loud funny, mostly because Mark Rylance delivered a virtuoso comic performance, highlighted by a dazzling, uninterrupted delivery that ran nearly half-an-hour at one point. Rylance had very good support from straight men David Hyde Pierce (from Frasier) and Stephen Ouimette (from Slings And Arrows). The entire play is in rhyming couplets, which worked better than I thought. The denouement does fall a bit flat after such a thrilling start, but seeing Rylance as the idiot poser Valere was well worth the price of the ticket. (By the way, this production is Broadway bound after its run here in London.)

August 1, 2010

Henry IV Double Header, Part I


What a splendid play Henry VI, Part I is. And what a terrific job the company at Shakespeare's Globe did in bringing this piece of theater to life. With a wonderfully amusing and rascally Falstaff and a mischievous but calculating Prince Hal, the play hit all the right notes, and was equally adept in portraying the fun of the Boar's Head Tavern, the power struggles in King Henry's court, and the climactic battle between Hal and Hotspur.

Henry IV Double Header, Part II


Henry IV, Part II is a darker play than its prequel. The same cast I saw in Part I this afternoon adapted ably to the different material at the heart of tonight's play. While there was still plenty of buffoonery on hand among the denizens of Eastcheap, the resolve of the young prince on his way to becoming Harry the king was in evidence. The scenes between the prince and his dying father worked quite well. It was a treat to see the two parts of this story back-to-back like this. Six hours of theater can be a long time (and a butt-numbing experience!) but I was thoroughly dialed in during tonight's show.

About London

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to As Far As You Know in the London category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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