Monday monday

I find myself in crowds when I am in London, most notably as I am entering the Emirates. But I never saw a crowd like the one that was heading across London bridge and down the streets of City on Monday morning as we were making our way to find breakfast near 9 a.m.. Droves of people in suits, skirts, dress shoes making their way to work. An army of workers.

My husband said it reminded him of T. S. Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land.

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,

I had not thought death had undone so many.

Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,

And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.

Literary thoughts are usually not in my head. I thought they looked like cows being herded.

 

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Undone by death, or cows? You be the judge.

We were planning to stop by the Borough Market and grab breakfast in our way to the Museum of London. However, the market was in the process of being set up. There were a few vendors ready to sell bread and croissants, but we stopped into Monmouth coffee shop next to the market and grabbed a flat white and a croissant from the bakery next door shop to hold us over until we could find breakfast.

 

We worked our way over near the museum, encountering St. Lawrence Jewry church, where there was to be a piano recital at 1 p.m. We decided to try to stop back there after visiting the museum.

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It tasted better than it looks

We stopped to have breakfast at Vital Ingredient, just up the street from the museum. It’s a chain in the approximate genre of Pret a Manger. I had what was called an acai smoothie, which consisted of some fruit ground up with acai sauce, topped with fresh fruit, yogurt, coconut, and seeds.

The Museum of London was fascinating, although I have to admit I hit the wall before I saw all of it. It covers the history of London, including from before London was a city. London has been a city for around 2,000 years, so adding on history before it was formed means we are looking at a whole lot of years. The museum displays tons of artifacts from every period, many of which were pulled from the Thames.

I tried to see it with a broad brush rather than in detail, which I think helped me draw some important, fast, and hopefully accurate conclusions: the river is the lifeblood of the city and always has been and big change comes in globs and often with outside influence. For example, there was really not much change in tools and household goods for hundreds and hundreds of years; but there was massive change in objects associated with the Roman invasion the first century A.D. You could see it blooming before your eyes. There was also tremendous change associated with the various fires across the history of the city. Much like a forest that burns, a city must regenerate itself, and when it does, it often does so in a highly progressive way.

We left and went to St. Lawrence Jewry for the piano recital. Such a surprise inside that cathedral. The outside had been dingy and dark, but the inside was as beautiful, light, and well-maintained as any cathedral I’ve ever seen. The recital that day was two sonatas, Mozart’s Sonata in D major, and Prokofiev Sonata No. 8 in B flat major, played by Antonia Suhanova, a young pianist working on her masters degree in piano performance. She was wonderful and the music was lovely; it was a nice midday treat.

We had theatre tickets that night for Travesties, Tom Stoppard’s play about the lawsuit brought against James Joyce over a pair of pants worn by an actor in Oscar Wild’s play, The Importance of Being Earnest. We headed over to the theatre district and stopped in a Peruvian restaurant named Casita Andina, which serves tapas. We ordered a burnt orange salad, ocopo chips, avocado fritters, hake, tamal, panna cotta, and a chocolate bombe. I think that was my favorite restaurant experience in London this trip. The food was beautiful and delicious and fun, in a fun atmosphere.

I was full of trepidation that I would fall asleep during the play because I was still feeling jet lagged and I remembered that Tom Stoppard plays require some intellectual effort. I took the precaution if having a latte at the restaurant.

The play was terrific. I still found myself nodding off in the first bit once the lights went off, but the play was so lively, funny, creative and entertaining, I was quickly captivated and sorry when it was over. The big Tom Stoppard play playing in London while we were there was Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, with Daniel Radcliff of Harry Potter fame in one of the lead roles. I’m delighted it was too hard to get tickets to that. It would be hard to imagine we would have had more fun than at Travesties.

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The set of Travesties at the Apollo Theatre

In contrast with all those workers we swam against in the morning, it was a long and busy day of play, so we headed back to the Citizen M for our night’s sleep.

That latte which didn’t completely do its job of keeping me awake during the play did an excellent job overnight.

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