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Day 6
Today it is cold, very gray and drizzly. Now, that's more like it . . .
Yesterday, for my sore throat, we had gone into a Boots Pharmacy and bought Panadol, which the woman/clerk supposed was the English equivalent to Tylenol. I should have suspected something was peculiar in that after literally 20 miles of walking, I still could have done 20 more, had no appetite and could have danced all night. In short, Panadol is another name either for caffeine or methamphetamine. I was up all night. Did not sleep a wink. During breakfast at the Hotel, the explanation for my insomnia became clear. We had intended to take the walking tour of Southwark, including Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and the Old Clink Prison, but I had to nap. So back upstairs and to bed for a much-needed 3-hour nap. Then back out to the street, where we really pissed off a bus driver by having no money smaller than a 20-pound note (the fare is 1 lb) finally he relented and let us on and came up with the change.
A note about the buses - between stops it is "Hell-Bent-for-Leather, Pedal-to-the-Metal;" heaven help the absent-minded pedestrian. I am amazed that there are not more incidents of "death by bus." On our last trip, we took the Tube whenever possible and did not get this same exposure to the London buses. Again today we had to give up waiting for the bus to Southwark and the Globe Theater which never materialized and we had to take a taxi (5.60) (The exhibition is located on the site of the Davies Amphitheatre, which was a favored London spot for bear-baiting and bull-baiting, neither of which will be discussed in these pages.) I am somewhat groggy after only 3 hours sleep, but so thrilled to be close to the Shakespeare's history.
First thing we did was to find a pub for a pub breakfast - potatoes, quiche, Bitter and Cider. Again, a total stranger went out of his way to suggest we avoid the very expensive restaurant at the Globe and to suggest this pub, the Founder's Arms. He also kindly pointed out the tension Millennium Bridge built for the Queen that had proved to be so wobbly that the city has had to spend millions more to stabilize it. We walked the few steps from the Founder's Arms to the Shakespeare Exhibition and Globe Theatre. The reconstructed theatre had to be built in sections since the lumber was "new oak" which took months to dry. The theatre was replicated as exactly as could be determined to the original, and in the same manner, using similar tools - no power tools of any kind were used. Everything about the Elizabethan playhouse is authentic, except for its location which is about 200 meters from the original spot (now part of a bridge).
The reconstructed Globe Theatre
Another difference is that in Shakespeare's day, the theatre would hold 3000 people, 1,000 groundlings (1 pence) and 2,000 more affluent (2-6 pence) theatre goers.
Surprisingly, we have the American actor Sam Wanamaker to thank for this resurrection. In 1949 Sam could find no trace of the great and critically important man or place, except for one plaque, so he spent many years generating interest in what today is the amazing reincarnation
The first play by Shakespeare produced in the original theatre was Julius Caesar in 1599, Sept. 21, and appropriately, the first play produced in the newest Globe was Julius Caesar in 1999, Sept. 21.
The tour of the Globe was very interesting
Having studied, admired, loved Shakespeare for about as long as I can remember, I was emotionally effected by the place, the surroundings, the new perfect craftsmanship, the generosity of so many people, but especially the efforts of Sam Wanamaker. Thank you Sam.
An interesting note: one of the displays bore out something I have long pondered - was the man called William Shakespeare (who was a known actor at the time) actually the playwright and poet? I think not. The depth and scope of the plays and poems had to come from a source 1) highly educated, 2) close to the court with intimate knowledge of its "mechanics, manipulations and machiavellianisms" and 3) well traveled. William Shakespeare, the actor, met none of these requirements, however, Christopher Marlowe, Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford and Sir Francis Bacon all do. My personal belief is that is was De Vere.
We purchased some obligatory Shakespeare memorabilia at the shop, made a donation and said goodbye. We will return in the future and sit (stand) as groundlings.
Much of what man has left as legacy is disgraceful; Shakespeare's work displays the enormous, beautiful and timeless potential that man has at times too infrequently attained. We wanted to see the nearby Clink Prison but ran out of time. Next trip…
We walked through Southwark, past the Hop Exchange. Southwark had access to Kent, where hops are grown, and this building was built in 1866 as the center of the trade of hops, instrumental in the production of beer. Two changes and the Tube got us back to the hotel for a rest and change before heading to Her Majesty's Theatre to see a performance of Phantom of the Opera (33.50 lb. each.)
Her Majesty's Theatre, all gussied up for the evening...
We arrived at the theatre about 1/2 hour early. The ornate theatre was intimate, with ample, comfortable seating. As the curtain opened, we could tell we were in for a treat. The set design was incredible, and as the story progressed just got more impressive. The lighting was the most mood-ranging I've ever seen. The cast, although not the original, made Andrew Loyd Weber songs and Gaston Leroux's timeless story come alive. The final scene, as the phantom disappears "forever" after having just proved that he loved Christine so very much that although he wanted to possess her, his tremendous love made him surrender her to the man she really loved - Raul, made us both cry.
Scott Davis, who played the Phantom, played the role with both a terrifying and at the same time soft and sensitive side - very much like his face - half-human, half-hideous . At several times we were both moved to tears. Our favorite song was definitely "The Music of the Night" and the final scene, where all that he leaves behind is his mask, was so very touching. We did not want this play to end nor did the rest of the audience apparently. We were sad for the Phantom as we left the theatre and we were sad for ourselves for this was our last night in London - what a fitting ending.
We walked slowly up Haymarket from the theatre, through Picadilly Circus, north to Oxford Street towards our hotel. Along the way we found an interesting Italian restaurant - Il Passetto - on Shaftsbury Avenue, where we ordered delicious Spaghetti alla Vongole (again. I fell in love with this dish in Venice in 1999).
A short 3 block walk past the now-familiar British museum, found us back at the Morgan for our last night in the cool night air of Londontown…

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