2004-05-07 : Jason’s wacky adventures in England – part… umm… something.
OK, where was I up to ? Wednesday, I think.
Wednesday I wandered in to check out Trafalgar Square, which was pretty easy to get to as it's on the same tube line as our nearest stop. Was a pretty impressive lookin place ! If I was ever to have a statue or other monument put up in my honour, I'm now going to insist that it be flanked by 4 enormous bronze lions. Not as many pigeons around the place as I was expecting, but apparently the Mayor of London made it illegal to feed them, and their numbers have been thus dwindling. There's still enough of them around to get the idea though.
I decided that the next place to visit would be the National Gallery, because it is right on Trafalgar Square, but I decided to take the “scenic route” in order to see a couple more things first. I wandered along The Mall first, through this big gate thing which looked like it was the kind of thing that the Queen would catch a carriage through on special occasions, and then up some steps to the right and foundmyself on Pall Mall. Then I wandered along a bit more and found myself at the National Portrait Gallery, so I thought I'd stick my head in there and have a look.
I swear, I've never seen so much art in my life as I have since I got here !! And there's PLENTY more to come.
The National Portrait Gallery houses, as the name suggests, portraits of prominent persons from British history, but painted over a number of years ranging from the 11th century onward to present day. It was as much an art lesson as a history lesson. There was a chronological scale of British monarchs, as well as relevant periphery figures, and it was all rather fascinating. The most striking painting I can remember was the picture of Pitt the Younger's heart attack subsequent to his address to the House of Lords.
After leaving there I wandered out and along some road or other and wound up at Leicester Square. It quite amazes me how close together all these things are. I feel as if when in Australia you have to travel a fair distance from one point of interest to the next. I guess Britain is so compact that it's barely surprising though.
I thought I'd head down to see the Houses of Parliament next, so I mosied down Whitehall. Upon getting to Downing St it became obvious that they're all a bit paranoid about the PM's security, because it's blockaded at both ends.
I kept walking until I saw… LOOK KIDS !
That night I zipped over to Pimlico to meet up with the Westminster Morris Men for a practice, and that was pretty cool – a well decent bunch of lads ! They've invited me out to their annual day out/feast thing on Saturday, so I think I'll give that a shot !
Today I had a relatively quiet one – headed in to Charing Cross Rd (just behind Trafalgar Sq.) to speak to a guy about a little bit of work, which all looks pretty good. Next I hopped over to Buck. Palace, because though I wanted to go to Westminster Abbey, I noticed from the Soggy Planet that it shuts about 4, so that wouldn't have given me long. Never mind, it'll still be there tomorrow !!
I looked at Buckingham Palace for a while, but it's not a particularly amazing looking structure. You can get transfixed wathing the weird little guard dudes though. One of them got a telling off from the sergeant because his big black hat wasn't on straight. As for the rest of the stuff aroound the palace – jeez, those Brits don't mind making a fuss, do they ? There's a humungous statue of Queen Victoria, surrounded by other sculptures, and at each compass point of the circular road there's a “gate” with engravings for 3 of the major british colonies, with the fourth point being the main palace gate. Tourists EVERYWHERE, and so many photos being taken, it was almost like being at a wedding !
After sitting there for a while I wandered back up towards Covent Garden where I was meeting Richie and Ciaran. I went a reasonably curly way again, and saw a bit of Picadilly Circus, stopping in at a couple of shops to see what was around. Their big “end of season sales” seemed impressive, but factoring in the AUD-GBP exchange rate it still wasn't anything to go wild over.
Eventually I met Richie and Ciaran, and after a couple of pints we headed over to the Theatre Royal to see “When Harry Met Sally”, a charming romantic comedy starring Luke Perry and Alyson Hannigan. It was entertaining enough in a wholsome touchy feely kind of way, although let's face it – the romantic comedy genre doesn't particularly cater for the cynical and twisted among us… But on the whole, not awful. Certainly worth the effort we went to to get half price tickets.
I still haven't got a mobile number, because it appears that Virgin UK are a bit slack at posting things out at times. Maybe it'll be organised by tomorrow.
Oh yes, and for some reason Richie has bought himself a unicycle.