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Tuesday in London

April 5th, 2006 (12:45 am)

The celebrations of my father's seventieth birthday are beginning. Today we had lunch at the invitation of family friends at this splendid hotel near Heathrow. The hotel was once a hunting lodge of Elizabeth I, and in the 1930s was a haunt of film stars visiting Britain, including Londoner Charlie Chaplin.

I drove my parents and sister back into London, having intended to help collect some tables from a shop, but the tables had not arrived. Instead we ended up going to the theatre to see Guys and Dolls, now on its third cast. I'd seen the film, and an amateur production in which my mother appeared about twenty years ago, but never a professional show. I'd have liked to have seen Jenna Russell as Sarah Brown, but she left a few weeks ago; Kelly Price was very good, however, and Neil Morrisey shows that he can act without deploying his sitcom persona into every situation. Adam Cooper was an uncertain Sky Masterson; at times it seemed that he was playing Ewan MacGregor (who first played the role in this production) although considering that he had minimal involvement in the dancing it was clear that the role hadn't been restructured around his talents. Sally Ann Triplett was a very strong Miss Adelaide, helped by this production's decision to free her from the characterisation designed for Vivien Blaine, the Broadway comedienne who first created the role, and give her a bit more credibility. The staging was very dark, replacing the conventional bright and gaudy 1950s visualization of urban life with the more shadowy one of the 2000s. The best set was probably the sewer!


Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: April 5th, 2006 07:28 am (UTC)

That's some hotel! We should arrange an outing to the Grims Dyke House hotel in Stanmore (Gilbert or Sullivan's old pad, can't remember which), some time.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: April 5th, 2006 02:33 pm (UTC)

Grims Dyke was, as I've probably mentioned, a location for 'The Evil of the Daleks in 1967. It was Gilbert's house between 1890 and 1911, and was at first called Graeme's Dyke.

Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: April 5th, 2006 07:38 am (UTC)

You are spending more and more time in London, young(ish) fluffybloke. You know you want to move here and lose your soul.

Posted by: racisthomophobe (racisthomophobe)
Posted at: April 5th, 2006 08:55 am (UTC)

There comes a point in the life of intelligent, talented Oxonians when they look around them, in Blackwells or the Broad, and realise that they are the last of their kind. And then it's time to move those fifty miles east. The Good Knight is at that point now.

But it has to be done properly. London is not one big huge mass, but a conglomeration of cheery little villages united by fate and an excellent transport service. People like the Knight are currently moving into Bloomsbury, because it's still cheap, and it's close to books, pubs, museums and restaurants. Thanks to the proximity of Euston and Kings Cross, you can be in real countryside in half an hour, which is less time than the bus ride from Central Oxford to Woodstock.

Of course, there are "other" sides to London. Racism and homophobia are two, and I can only point to myself in that respect, really! but sitting outside the Flask on a spring evening with some smart friends is about as good as life gets.

It will be a year or two before this germ of an idea turns into action, but sooner than we know it, the Knight will have a longer phone number, a better postcode, a shine on his shoes, and the chance to spread his own especial magic to a more appreciative audience than he has been used to of late.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: April 5th, 2006 11:11 am (UTC)

My removal to London would only be practical if employment could be found there, and I'm not sure whether it will be. Nonetheless visits to London are instrumental in the recovery of my soul; I don't believe, no matter what Penny thinks, that my soul would be lost there.

As for being the last of my kind - sometimes I feel that way. My old haunts have been restored in their way, but are transformed into other realms of association, and some of those I thought were soulmates lost to new trends and a harsher register.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: April 5th, 2006 11:18 am (UTC)

More positively, though, it can be fun to be around the bright young things, but you've got to manage this in such a way that you don't stop them doing young person things just because they look puzzling to a thirtysomething perspective.

Posted by: wellinghall (wellinghall)
Posted at: April 5th, 2006 05:22 pm (UTC)

I have never lived in London, but I would still take issue with this - in particular "cheap" (anywhere at all near central London seems horribly expensive to me), and "you can be in real countryside in half an hour" - I'm not arguing with the fact, but it takes me about 30 seconds (a minute if I need to put my shoes on before I go out).

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: April 5th, 2006 05:31 pm (UTC)

It takes me about the same time, living in Woodstock. While I've never developed any social life in Woodstock, I'd still miss it if I moved to London.

I did live in London - with pennypaperbrain - from 1998 to 1999; and part of the problem is that it is difficult to live there on a budget, as Penny found as an impoverished Masters' student, who needed to work, and who couldn't just hop on a train or bus at a moment's notice to visit a central London library.

If I've given the impression that I'm underappreciated - well, sometimes I feel that way, but there are many people whom I know in Oxford who do appreciate me, and I them. If a new job takes me away, I will be sorry to leave.

Posted by: wellinghall (wellinghall)
Posted at: April 5th, 2006 05:35 pm (UTC)

I wondered if you'd mind if I friended you?