Sucking the marrow, theatre and waffles out of London

16 Nov

I believe it was Thoreau who wrote that he wanted to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” I decided I needed to suck out all the marrow of London in my last week here in 2012 – particularly the theatre marrow. How did I accomplish that? Queuing for day seats. Two days in a row.  Insanity, I know. But the theatre marrow is quite succulent (taking the metaphor too far yet?) and I got some good Black Friday practice in. (If only the people of Walmart lined up as nicely as folks outside the National Theatre.)

Normally I wouldn’t dream of waking up early, taking the Tube at rush hour and standing outside in the cold for an hour two days in a row, but there were two shows I was itching to see, and they close before I return to London in January. Lately I’ve been choosing my shows based on actors. “A Chorus of Disapproval” stars Rob Brydon, also known as Bryn on “Gavin and Stacey.” I had to see him work his magic in real life (and from the front row!). And then while waiting for a ticket for “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” last month, I saw a poster for “Scenes from an Execution,” starring Fiona Shaw. She was brilliant as Marnie the witch in “True Blood,” and I had to see her on the stage as well. The two shows couldn’t have been more different, but each was brilliant and well worth the day seat hassle. It’s always worth it to see a good live show from the front row for less than the price of a movie ticket in London. I’m glad I got to sleep in today though.

Whenever I’m back in the US, people always ask me what I like and miss about being in London or America. The problem with moving around is that there are always people, things and experiences you miss in each place. When I’m back “home” in Kentucky I miss walking everywhere. I get used to walking through the beautiful Regent’s Park on a regular basis and every once in a while have to remind myself to really take it in. But then when I’m in London and we’re circling the block trying to find a parking space (which isn’t putting it right – there are no blocks in London, so returning to the same street to hawk a spot takes a good 15 minutes), I miss the giant free parking lots of suburban America.

In an effort to suck out all the marrow of London Christmas, I decided to do a little Christmas lights tour down Regent, Carnaby and Oxford Streets as I walked to the bus stop after Wednesday’s show. In my mind it was going to be magical – that Christmas spirit in the air, choirs singing, children laughing, people passing (meeting smile after smile)… but in reality, it was cold. And crowded. And I was really, really hungry. They say there’s a correlation between lack of sleep and hunger, and I believe it now. In the air there was a feeling of Christmas, but there was also the smell of waffles. Oxford Street always smells like waffles, which is torture when you’re famished but trying to exercise self-control. So instead of taking in all the beautiful lights and store displays, all I could think about was waffles. The hunger really ruined my happy Christmas mood. Since I couldn’t eat waffles, I imagined myself throwing waffles at all the tourists who clogged the sidewalk up trying to take photos of the lights. I really wanted to make a much more elegant post about Christmas in London and the lights, complete with many photos, but I was so irritated by those tourists that I couldn’t bare to turn into one and get my camera out. And did I mention the evil waffles? And the cold and hunger?

Here is the one photo I took of Rolling Stones Christmas on Carnaby Street.

What’s with London selling out all its decorations? I guess the Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary is better than Marmite Gold yeast extract spread, but still…



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