Now and again I have occasion to visit our illustrious capital, maybe for a West End tourist treat or sometimes for a meeting with work. It is a place about which I am often ambivalent.
A London Bus
I don’t really find London beautiful like Paris or Rome. And while there isundoubtedly a lot more stuff there than there is elsewhere in the country – theatres, shops, restaurants, jobs, escalators etc – it is also overcrowded, dirty, expensive and manic. Although, after experiencing Australian prices, it doesn’t seem quite so bad now. The red London buses provide a much needed splash of colour amid this cold grey 2012 spring.
Battersea – one hell of a dog’s home
There was no sign of the Queen in Winsor Castle
About 7.7 million people officially live in London, but the real figure is likely to be much higher. Of course some people just love this urban vibe, while others, like one city commuter I know, refer to it only as ‘Stinky London.’
Another Great British Tradition
There is a lot of Jubilee madness around at the moment with patriotic displays in the shops and union jacks plastered on even more items than usual. My old Dad, Alf who is eighty eight and suffers from a bit of dementia, is certain that the queen isn’t really the queen at all as she hasn’t even got a certificate in it. If this is indeed the case, she’s got to be the world’s most successful imposter.
Jubilee madness descends
While there I visited the quaint King’s Head Theatre pub which was founded in 1970 in Islington. It is the original pub theatre, and is pretty unique. Actors and artists who got their first break in this humble but atmospheric theatre include Steven Berkoff, Kenneth Branagh, Kathy Burke, Dawn French, John Hurt, Ben Kingsley, Joanna Lumley, Gary Oldman, Clive Owen, Nigel Planer, Alan Rickman, Tom Stoppard and Victoria Wood.
Very cool Theatre Pub
We saw Arnold Wesker’s play ‘Denial’ written in 2000, which is about repressed memory syndrome and a girl who is persuaded by her therapist that all her troubles stem from the fact that she was abused by her father as a child. Sound of Music this was not although the ticket was about a tenth the cost of a seat in the West End. The play was however, extremely well written and acted and definitely thought provoking. I also love the studio theatre ambience and that intimate proximity where you are so close to the actors that you can see the whites of their eyes. I became fascinated by an actor in a play once who was playing a period part, but had that tell tale line left around the calf of an elasticated pop sock recently removed. Detail is all. Afterwards we strolled down the seemingly recession proof, Islington High Street and popped into the Gallipoli café for some Moroccan tapas and a nice glass of rose. Perhaps London isn’t so bad after all…