Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day Two: London

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pall Mall
The Mall
The British Museum
“Afterlife” At The National Theater
Covent Garden
Saint Paul’s Church
“The Chalk Garden” At Donmar Warehouse

My parents will sleep in on our second day in London, but the rest of us plan to rise early and re-examine Pall Mall and The Mall, the two great ceremonial streets we spent several hours exploring last year, too. These streets and their attractions are among the most important in London, and it is vital that Josh’s sister have an opportunity to visit them.

We plan to leave the hotel at 7:00 a.m. and walk the length of Pall Mall from Trafalgar Square to Lancaster House. We will examine the exteriors of the historic gentlemen’s clubs that line Pall Mall, and examine the Pall Mall facades of Marlborough House, The Queen’s Chapel (another Inigo Jones Neo-Classical structure), Saint James’s Palace, York House and Lancaster House. We will also examine the small squares and side streets and statues and various monuments that line this historic street.

We will have a quick breakfast at a café near Saint James’s Palace, and retrace our steps back to Trafalgar Square, from which we will walk the length of The Mall.

Along The Mall, we will examine Admiralty Arch, The Duke Of York Steps and The Duke Of York Memorial, Carleton House Terrace and Carleton House Terrace Gardens, and The Mall facades of Marlborough House, Clarence House, Saint James’s Palace and Lancaster House. At the end of The Mall, we will examine The Queen Victoria Memorial and the exterior of Buckingham Palace.

This walk will require three hours, and at the conclusion of our walk we will take a taxicab to Bloomsbury, where we will meet up with my parents at The British Museum at 10:30 a.m.

We will devote only two hours to our visit to The British Museum. Accordingly, we will focus on the very, very finest and most important artifacts at the museum, and we will do so in order that Josh and Josh’s sister may see them.

We will start in Room 4, the giant hall containing giant statuary from Ancient Egypt. This is the room in which is situated The Rosetta Stone, among many other ancient treasures.

From Room 4, we will proceed straight to the Ancient Greece rooms on the main floor and go through Rooms 11 through 23, the very heart of the collection. These rooms contain, among other ancient wonders, The Elgin Marbles and The Mausoleum Of Halikarnassos.

Once our two hours at The British Museum have passed, we will have lunch at a nearby restaurant.

After lunch, we will take taxicabs to The National Theatre, where we will attend the 2:15 p.m. matinee performance at the Lyttelton of “Afterlife”, the new Michael Frayn play about Austrian theater impresario and stage director Max Reinhardt. The director of “Afterlife” is Michael Blakemore.

I try to attend performances at The National Theatre whenever the opportunity arises. The National Theatre is the finest theater in the English-speaking world, and its productions are generally at the very highest level.

My brother loves to attend performances at The National Theatre, too. Despite the fact that he never goes to the theater by himself, he always welcomes the prospect of attending plays at The National. He has enjoyed plays there that I never expected him to enjoy.

We took a guided tour of the entire National Theatre complex last year, but my parents have not attended a production at The National in many, many years—the current building was still new the last time my parents attended a National Theatre performance—and they look forward to a return visit to this legendary venue. Josh has never attended a performance at The National, because our visit to London last year occurred during the few interim weeks in which the theater was in the process of winding down one season and gearing up for the next.

Josh’s sister looks forward to the prospect of experiencing British theater, so I earnestly hope that the play will be a good one and that she enjoys her first visit to The National.

After the play, we will walk over to Covent Garden and show Josh’s sister the exterior of The Royal Opera House as well as the buildings and piazzas of this old market area. We will also explore the exterior and gardens of Saint Paul’s Church, also known as The Actor’s Church, yet another Inigo Jones Neo-Classical edifice. We will not be able to visit the church’s interior, however, because the church building is closed on Saturdays.

We will eat dinner at a restaurant in the Covent Garden area, and after dinner we will attend the 7:30 p.m. performance of Enid Bagnold’s “The Chalk Garden” at the nearby Donmar Warehouse. This evening’s performance will be the closing performance of the run, the first major London revival in thirty years of Bagnold’s only enduring play. The director is Michael Grandage, and two of Britain’s most distinguished actresses, Margaret Tyzack and Penelope Wilton, are in the cast.

How many persons know that both Daniel Massey and Ian Holm were formerly married to Penelope Wilton?

We will walk back to our hotel after “The Chalk Garden” and turn in early for the night. This day will be the last of our two days in London, and we hope that Josh’s sister will have enjoyed seeing a few of London’s most important attractions.

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