Wednesday, June 24, 2009

And How Shall we F&%$ off, oh Lord?

It seems that not only does London employ Julie Andrews for all the public service messages but they have also hired her to do all the public signage. Only here in the UK would they implore you not to graffiti up the walls of St. Paul's by mentioning the PAIN you will cause the Dean if you so much as even think about scratching your 'foolish scribblings' in the stone wall.
Outside in the Church Garden, you are asked to consider public health before you scatter that handful of bread. I think we have the little old Bird Woman from Mary Poppins to thank for this sign. She started it with all her bags full of crumbs anyway. She's probably responsible for the Bird Flu too.
And perhaps if it's not too much trouble, would you mind NOT using the newly-laid grass. I'm not sure what we would 'use' it for anyway. Does one 'use' grass? At any rate, everyone was kindly obliging and not using it for anything at all.
I also saw a notice of parking closure sign for a street. The sign mentioned dates and times of closure and then, underneath, encouraged you to call a certain number or visit a website if any part of this notice caused confusion or was unclear in anyway. Can you imagine this in Victoria: "We're awfully sorry but we've got to close off part of Douglas Street on such and such a day and time. Please feel free to call the office directly if you need help understanding any part of this sign". It's not going to happen. Instead we have very boring little signs that say things like 'fine for graffiti:$200' or 'Stay off the Grass' or we go to the other extreme with a diatribe on the migratory patterns of the common duck and their place in the food chain and our impact on said duck, all in 4pt font.
Anyway, I do love the signs. They're so cute! Keep it up, London!
But a bit about our day today. We started out at close to 11am by taking the tube to St. Paul's Cathedral. I was not that happy about having to pay 11 pounds to get in. WTF? Last time it was free. And now it's 11 pounds? Bit of a jump isn't it? But in we went and, I must admit, the first impressions were worth it. It really is a work of incredible beauty. The amount of time and creative and artistic energy that went into the construction of the place still radiates up from the floor and fills you with a kind of wonder that isn't often felt. Even Zoe was momentarily quieted. Momentarily. We wandered for awhile then found the 297 steps to the Whispering Gallery which lines the inside of the first and biggest dome. The rumour is that one of you can stand on one side and the other on the other side (30 metres away) across the dome and if you whisper, your friend will be able to hear you as clear as day. I'm sure this is likely the case if you are not sharing the space with school groups from Upper Claptrapping Comprehensive College and Mumpet-upon-Sea School for Girls. I think perhaps they were briefed before hand that one must not whisper in the Whispering Gallery, but instead one must giggle hysterically and at full volume and must do so while texting your friend 30 metres away across the dome so that she can pretend to have actually heard you, and fool her long-suffering teacher. When this task is accomplished, you must then call everyone you know on your cell phone and tell them exactly what has happened in the intervening 30 seconds since you last spoke to them.
Needless to say, I am not really in a position to criticize as we all know about Zoe's voice and its ability to cause avalanches, shatter windows and summon packs of dogs while she innocently relates the events of the day.
There was one other factor that marred my appreciation of the Whispering Gallery and that was the psychotic state I found myself in upon emerging from the ridiculously small door that leads onto the gallery. Now I knew I wasn't good with heights, but I was unprepared for the violent attack of anxiety that hit me as I peered through the railings (that are probably 5 feet high and thick cast iron) to a drop of what appeared to be several kilometres to the Cathedral Floor. In an instant sweat, I weakly felt my way to the cool stone walls and bench that surround the gallery and managed to sit down. Of course the kids wanted to bolt off and run around to opposite sides but thankfully my mum stayed with me and kindly did not remark on my paleness or obvious distress except to suggest that perhaps I would like to stay sitting on the bench. Indeed I would, and did, all the while trying to put on a brave face for the kids. "No, really, I'm just going to stay here (and press my face into the cold stone wall) - you go ahead and see if the whispering thing works." It was a good thing it was the whispering gallery as I could not manage more than a few weak exhalations at this point. I managed to watch them walk around the gallery to the other side at which point I had to look away as I didn't want to watch my two beloved children plunge to their deaths as they most surely would at any moment. My only consolation was that I would be following them shortly thereafter as I, too, would be compelled to jump the railing and fall to my death. Scenes from various murder mysteries began running through my mind: vicars tossed to their demise from the peak of the church tower, errant archbishops pushed down flights of 297 stairs etc etc. I suddenly found the energy to bark out orders to the kids to COME RIGHT NOW BEFORE I DO SOMETHING SILLY and stumbled to the door leading to the ground floor.
Once downstairs I was sufficiently recovered to eat lunch and then gather the troops for the tube ride to the Apollo Victoria Theatre to see the Matinee performance of Wicked.
All I can say is that if you have any means at all to see this performance, wherever you might be, you MUST GO TO SEE IT ASAP. It is unbelievably wonderful in every way. FANTASTIC. Briefly, the plot is the back-story to the Wizard of Oz and tells the story of Glinda the Good and her friendship with the Wicked Witch of the West. Never have I been so impressed with a performance. SMASHING! A million thanks to Heather for recommending this to me.
After the show we made a pit stop at a book store, then headed home for dinner. Later we went out for a walk - it really is irresistible here - and strolled the Covent Garden/Charing Cross neighbourhood. So much going on, so much to see. It was another great day.

1 comment:

  1. Such a good time!
    But I'm not sure that I like this Comments thing. Look at it from our perspective. Here we are and there you are, fondling Henry VIII's shoe and throwing vicars off the whispering gallery - which really is an excellent idea - and meeting Julie Andrews. Meanwhile the big news item here is that the tidea will be at maximum low this weekend making it easier for everyone to see the sewage. And I suspect that his is not the first time this has happened!
    Well, enjoy every moment and forget that when it's all over Stepford is waiting to anesthetize you.