Saturday, March 25, 2006

March 22, 2006 London, Day Two:

3 middle-aged American women on the District line from Victoria to Tower Hill (where I will see the Tower of London and Tower Bridge) converse:
"I went to a wake instead of my brother's party." "Did you at least tell your brother?" "It was a surprise party. I told my sister-in-law."
Still feel like a tourist, but that is to be expected since I am a tourist.
I see much at the Tower of London and take a ridiculous number of photos. But I could have probably spent more than the two hours there. Actually, I take my own sweet time about actually getting to the Tower-outside the Tube stop, there is a huge sundial with events in English and British history around it. I take pictures there for a while, of the Tower, surrounding buildings, the sundial, people. I think the best thing about the Tower is the number of doors and passageways...easy to get lost in, and yet still easy to navigate.
I meet up with Dr. Fusaro as planned the previous day at the Duke of York's theater at 1.45pm. She purchases the ticket to see "Embers" for me and leaves, saying as she kisses me goodbye "If you see him [Jeremy Irons], tell him I adore him." (Later, I find out that she actually runs into him not five minutes later in St. Martin's Lane. He is walking three dogs.) The play is amazing. Full stop. Two old British women, sitting in front of me: "I took an American friend of mine to see X. I told her not to get there before quarter to 6. And she did. She was furious." "How sad." Another old women sitting next to me falls asleep and snores. She is, obviously, too silly to appreciate something that amazing. (Everyone, go read that book right now. "Embers" by Sandor Marai. And then fly to London to see the play.) After it is over, I walk aimlessly and stumble upon the National Portrait Gallery. Free and open for another hour and a half. I go in...Of course? Who wouldn't? I see several G.F. Watts protraits including a replica of the John Stuart Mill portrait (it is in the store room, I gather) and portrait of Cardinal Manning, who looks quite evil. The Charles Darwin portrait by "Faustin" is a room away, as is the Benjamin Disraeli portrait by Sir John Everett Millais. There is a portrait of Geoff Chaucer there from 1500, even though he died in 1400 or so. I find that amusing. Elizabeth I's Coronation portrait is there as well. Wow.

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