François joined me for the last three days of my stay in London, and that was an opportunity for me to show him around a city he’s visited quite a while ago during a school trip. Our first stop was at the Globe Theatre, to see a play in Shakespeare’s theatre itself. The first had burnt during the Great London Fire, but was rebuilt identically. We spent three hours standing in the pit, just as the lower classes of society used to do back in the days; three hours laughing our heads off for there the plays are directed just as they should be: with farce, bawdy humor, dancing, music, singing, and awesome costumes. The Great William never disappoints you there.
@ The Globe, you only pay £5 per play if you stand in the pit. Check it out here.
The British Library, which I know like the back of my hand from all these hours spent doing research or visiting their wonderful exhibitions (the great exhibition on the Magna Carta has just finished). Lastly, I got there a few minutes before the opening. I sat down to wait, and without a thought, just raised my head. I had never noticed the building before. There is nothing particularly moving about its architecture, if only the famous red bricks which remind me of the working-class atmosphere of this country whose landscape was literally transformed by the Industrial Revolution. Bottomline: never underestimate the power of raising your head once in a while, even in the most familiar of places.
I am not particularly fond of “object” museums (too many things, and even when the museography is perfect, you end up seeing a mass of things, and very few details) but the Victoria & Albert Museum was one of the lasts great London museums that I had left to see. You have to admit: the collections are amazing (especially the rooms on Oriental art), but in the end, I still have the feeling that I am witnessing centuries of looting and of imperialistic propaganda. And given the size of the diamond tiaras that I saw there, I assure you that some people’s heads were getting big! (my god, those ladies sure had strong trapezius muscles!)
The weather was typically English for my first trip to Richmond, a little bit of countryside 20mn away from central London by train. The grey sky did not let me down during my pastoral walk along the Thames or through the small streets of the city centre. Of course the nerd in me could not resist hunting down what remains of Virginia Woolf there, for it is precisely in Richmond that the Woolf couple founded their first printing press: Hogarth Press (groupie mode off). You can decide to have a stroll, to canoe, to have a drink facing the river, to cruise it, or to admire the view of the Thames from uphill. And of course, you can’t help but being moved by the sight of the very few Tudor walls of an old castle (groupie mode on again, or so it seems). On your way back to London, you will get this feeling of having traveled far away for a few hours…
Return ticket £8,60 from Waterloo station. Once you get to Richmond, just ask the lovely man at the information desk about the city’s main points of interest.
Quite busy at the moment in London but you have to admit that everything seems easier in a Victorian atmosphere. This interior is perfect for daydreaming, and I think about the early XXth century, about the building offered by the Baron of Rothschild to the French Institute in London to celebrate the Franco-British effort during World War I, and about this very building, which came as a replacement to the former one, destroyed during the bombings of World War II. Quite depressive, but the most important question still remains: where can I find the exact same couch in France?!