Its a bit tragic that it took so long, really. And it was "just" London for three days, but I planned it to within an inch of its life so there was maximum efficiency.
And it turns out you can actually be totally anal, with lots of google maps paperclipped into different days/events, and not totally suck all of the fun out of everything! I knew it!!
Oh and I relented on the tube issue. All the other times I've been to London I've insisted on walking everywhere, which was do-able on daytrips when theres only really one major thing to do, but was just going to sap precious time this trip. Plus, trekking from Euston to the 02? Even I'm not THAT cheap.
WARNING: TOURISTY TUBE-CLICHES AHEAD.
I don't know why I had such phobia of it. Well, of course I do, its a whole new alien thing to learn, and theres such a sense of forced urgency to the whole tube process, which is understandable once you get used to it, buts it's very intimidating to an outsider, so you don't really want to muck it up and get trampled by angry commuters. And the people working there were just as scary as I'd feared when we tried to ask them about how daypasses work. We figured it out on our own in the end, and I'd already pre-planned tube routes (I know!) so that bit wasn't an issue, but one poor guy next to us who was being very nice and unassuming in asking for help about how best to get somewhere got ripped a new one for no apparent reason. There weren't even any other people waiting behind him!
Luckily we only used it at peak times once or twice, and I know that if I had to do it everyday it'd be normal, but it was so jarring to see the way people cram themselves in. Not asking each other to move further in or anything, just silently shoving people into other people. So then you're all smooshed up against the person in front of you, trying to figure out exact where you're supposed to set your eye-level when you're practically inside them.
You know when you have one of those moments... when you're looking at, I dunno, a menu or something, and you start thinking about the evolution of society, all of the social conventions and shifts that take you from being a caveman through to the concept of menus, and forks. and clothes, and all the billions of "unnatural" thought processess we have to go through to be "normal". Its that kind of weird detachment from time I felt when I was being compacted into a fleshy mass inside a speeding metal box, underground.
Not that I'm complaining though. Now I'm au fait with it I love it, but I'm glad that I don't have to use it everyday.
You know what this post needs? Actual relevant content!
Many many adventures included;
La Cage Aux Folles
We ended up seeing THREE shows while we were there, its quickly becoming a passion, and in a way it was a shame this came first because it blew everything else away. I only knew the story from having seen The Birdcage and the original French film, so maybe the fact that I hadn't already played the songs to death before hand was a contributing factor. But even then, having only heard the songs once, they were firmly lodged in my head for days aferwards. And not just because they were catchy, though they are, but because I genuinley loved them immediatly.
I guess what I mean is that if I'd have known more about it beforehand, like I have done with Wicked, Jery Springer: The Opera, Rocky Horror et al, I'd have loved it and wanted to see it with the same passion, but to have this love thrust upon me... I can't get the wording right here. You know what I mean? To see it live and for that to be the first time AND to immediatly love it?
What else was nice was that it was an interactive show in an intimate theatre. We were only three rows from the front caberet tables that the Cagettes dance on at various points, plus we were next to the side doors which get a lot of use. At one point a Cagette snuck through and was making freaky bird noises in our faces. Awesome!
Oh, the best thing! Which sounds a bit soppy but, it was a gay love story, and it was so nice to see something up there on the stage thats, vaguely, representative. Especially the bits with them wanting to express their feelings outside, and having to do subtle bits of hand-holding on the sly.
I'm never going to get on to anything else today, I feel like I could write about it forever. The beyond impressive dancing of the Cagettes. The jokes. The songs. The costumes! The maid!
I think it might be my new favourite show. I'm all aflutter!
I already knew that I loved this to death, so theres not much to say other than praise for Michael Ball. I've seen him in interviews go on and on about how much he loves this show and you could tell every second he was on stage. There was a fab bit of ad-libbing at the end of "Timeless to Me" that I guess must have built bit by bit during his run. It just got ruder and ruder, and by the end of it he was cracking up, and I love that kind of thing. It makes it special, its not just them going through the motions for the 600th time.
We had a stand-in Tracy, which was a shame as I was looking forward to seeing Leanne Jones, and this girl had quite a different voice than I'd imagine Tracy having. She wasn't squeaky at all, a bit more like a Pink Lady from Grease (well, not the squeaky-voiced one, obviously), but it was nice seeing a slightly different take on her.
Woman in Black
For my sins this is the only thing I've seen at the theatre that wasn't a musical. It was quite nice to see an old-fashioned ghost story, and its a great reminder of the power of simple story telling that all you need is two actors and a few props to draw you in.
Oh, and a woman in a fright mask popping up every now and then to make people squeal and then do that post-scare laughing for longer than is strictly tolerable... but i'm a product of far too many horror movies so it didn't do that much for me on the jump-scare side of things. Apart from that bit with the torch... *shudders*
I think I might start sounding like an advert when I talk about how enriching and education this is.
The awareness something like this brings on, when you think you can feel your own blood coursing away, flexing your knee and picturing the cartilidge, that sort of thing, its as rewarding as you'd imagine anyway. Found it utterly fascinating once I got over the social awkardness thats inevitable when you realise that you're staring at a dead baby.
Also, (spoilers) they have a giraffe. A full sized giraffe, minus its skin, and with various cut-away sections. It had a massive bumhole.
General London Shopping! Regent st/ Oxford st, Selfridges, Hamleys, Harrods - which had the cutest puppy in the word running around its pet section, I got to pet it briefly and near became an instant dog-convert, Uniqlo (which really, really needs to come to Brum)
Natural History museum and V&A's theatre collection.
CYBERCANDY. CYBERCANDY. CYBERCANDY.