Friday, May 3, 2013

So far away

As I sit in here in a coffee shop (yes, a Starbucks) on Fulham Road in South Kensington, I realize it's a lot like looking through the wrong end of a telescope when I think on my life back home.  I believe that for me, to travel alone has the affect of feeling disassociated from the rest of my life.  There is very little around me that reminds me of that other Ellen.  I haven't even been deleting the junk mail in my work email and have read maybe 3-4 emails since I left.  This morning, due to Internet consumption at the flat, I turned off the email sync on my work account.  As I left the flat, they were installing broadband.
Further defining the delineation of there and here are the working people in their nice suits and smart ensembles.  As I sit here in my traveling clothes, I see another aspect of this separation which seems similar to Vonnegut's character Billy Pilgrim being "unstuck in time".  Enough introspection.

While sitting here typing, a young gentleman in a very nice business suit came in and ordered his coffee.   As he waited for it, he went over to the "customize your drink" counter and proceeded to dig in the trash bin.  I was able to watch unabashedly as his back was towards me.  He then proceeded to pull out a couple of receipts and select one and put it into a little case he had.  Not quite at the level of the disheveled man picking up half smoked cigarettes on the sidewalk yesterday, but still something that catches your focus.

I attended a performance of The Tempest at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in Southwark the other night.  What an experience.  I had decided to not carry my camera as I was "traveling light' and I'll never make that mistake again.  I can't share pics, so I'll have to describe it.  The theatre is roundish on the outside, but the seats don't sweep in a curve, more like a 20 sided figure.  There are three galleries or tiers with roughly 16 sections of 3 rows of 6 seats in each tier.  The seats are wooden without backs unless you sit in the third row or on the rail and lean forward on it as I did.  In front of the stage and up to the ground floor gallery is an large open area.  Tickets here are cheaper and the people who attend the play and stand in this area are called "groundlings".

I was on the third tier and from here I had a great view of everything.  The play was wonderful and more interactive than events at home.  I've been to the Old Globe in San Diego (long ago) and there was nothing like this.  The groundlings become part of the show.  At one point one of the fools walked up to the edge of the stage and "urinated" on the groundling in front of him.  On my side of the stage, just after the interval (intermission), the same fool fell backwards off the stage into the arms of three groundlings.  I'd see one of them reach up to touch his legs and thought that odd, but realized it was a signal that they were ready for him.

Also, the staging used the whole theatre similar to the Cirque du Soleil.  The Sprites in the play ran around behind us making noises and playing instruments.  In the beginning, during the Tempest, they somehow managed to have the seats shaking under us.

The play ended at 10:30 and I walked back across the Millenium bridge with the beautifully lit dome of St. Paul's straight ahead of me.  I cursed myself for having left my camera with me for the second or third time that evening.

The weather here has improved with each day.  It's become glorious bright, warm Spring weather and will stay so throughout the remainder of my stay.

Yesterday, I met up with an old friend that I have known since 1989.  John is an international level yacht racing judge and has been a part of 6 summer Olympic games as well as numerous America's Cups and other yacht racing events worldwide.  We met at the V&A museum and had a coffee in the courtyard catching up on the last 20 years or so.  We took in a bit of the Medieval gallery as well as the Japanese gallery before going into the David Bowie exhibit at 3p.    They had a great collection of items and what they had to convey was great, but the flow of the exhibit was a bit incoherent.  We were given headsets with audio that was keyed using Wifi.  When you entered a zone, the commentary was supposed to match with what was on the screens, etc.  I think they must be having some difficulties with that bit as I would sometimes catch the signal from a different exhibit through the wall as the signal would bleed outside the intended range.  In addition to the headphones, music was being played in various larger rooms along the way.  As I said, it was a bit incoherent.  I did learn a lot about Bowie and feel that they were spot on in calling out his having been a leader in not only the music world but the Zeitgeist of our generation.  Even if you didn't listen to his music, or thought he was a bit bizarrely dressed, he did a lot to blur the gender boundaries making it possible to usher in an era of gradual acceptance and redefining "new norms"  Sorry, no cameras allowed.

We stayed in the exhibit until closing and then went to a pub and on to dinner where we met up with John's daughter Katie.  I had last seen Katie in Spring 1990 when she was a sweet, shy little girl of about 6 or 7.   She was going through the throes of changing jobs, which is much less straightforward in the UK as it is in the States.  As she and John discussed the situation, I sat back a bit and enjoyed the wine, the meal and again the look through the wrong end of the telescope.

Winding down now, I'll tell you that I was able to answer one of my previous posts question.

It IS illegal to not clean up after one's pooch.  However, everyone must walk their dog in the dark.  You'd think someone would notice people leaving baggies in the street, surely?

Other recent pics.

This young man found a way to relax in the courtyard of the museum during his visit.
Yesterday, I visited the section of the museum that held Silver objects.  Below is a little backgammon made from Sterling.  Size-wise, this set is only 6" x 3" opened up like this.  I think what impressed me most was the use of the hole in the middle of the counters to distinguish between the two players.
One last picture and then I'm outta here.  I visited the wrought Iron section of the museum on Wednesday.  Here is a neat photo of a bracket and it's shadow on the wall.  I may try to crop this some time to make it more interesting, but there are too many things to go see and do today.  

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant depiction of the Globe. The shaking seats makes me think of Disney for some reason ... hmmm.
    Curses on not having the camera with you.