This business has been operating as long as my nation. Gallows humor?
“For those of you in the cheap seats I’d like ya to clap your hands to this one; the rest of you can just rattle your jewelry!”
― John Lennon
Confession time, we have not been taking appropriate advantage of London in the summer and we need to rectify this immediately. Working from home obviously contributes to the problem, as does the fact that my clients are several timezones behind me and I often have to be at least partially available during hours that most people spend frolicking. Jeff also has a lot of studying to do for the ever present reality of tests, and weekends are largely devoted to the necessary errand running that we haven’t been able to do during the week.
But it’s summer. In London. We need to be outside absorbing as much Vitamin D as humanely and safely possible because the cold, dark days will arrive much sooner than we all probably realize. To that end, we’ve started making an effort to track down as many outdoor adventures as possible, while varying up the routine a bit.
If I’m a theatre girl, Jeff is the resident music guy. When we were deciding what to do for our anniversary this year (travel being out of the budget for a while to go, alas), I picked the midnight matinee at The Globe and he wanted a concert and found a great one.
Somerset House, on the banks of the Thames, has a long history. The site has been home to a Tudor palace, a residence for members of the Royal family and their entourage, and apparently later a barracks. It was demolished and rebuilt in the neoclassical style and has moved over time to house various arts and learning societies and is a popular venue for performances. Particularly in, hey! Summertime! We first heard about the band Daughter on NPR and Jeff snapped up tickets as soon as he found out they were going to be performing.
No makeup and summer allergies, but pretty happy to be here!
The opening act was D.D Dumbo, an Australian artist who builds his songs while you listen (see more here, thanks again to NPR’s music reporting).
A disproportionate amount of my music is tragic or vengeful, the blues feature heavily, so make of that what you will. Daughter makes music that is gorgeously sad and depressing, and the lead singer Elena Tonra has a perfectly haunting voice so she’s right up my street. The band is still learning how to tour and their stage presence could use some work, but the music is the slow, quiet kind that gets its claws into you.
Just as pretty in the dark. Hopefully there can be more concerts in our future, as this has only been my third ever. My second, incidentally, was my first date with Jeff, so things are working out pretty well so far.
“Alive without breath,
As cold as death;
Never thirsty, ever drinking,
All in mail never clinking.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
At least, one worth knowing. The Golden Hind, named for Sir Francis Drake’s famous ship, is 100 years old and has been serving acclaimed fish and chips for the entire time. It’s an absolute culinary landmark in London and a required stop on any gastronomic tour of the city.
The shop itself is not grand. The tables and chairs are beat up and wooden, I’m not entirely sure they all matched, and the crockery is utilitarian. The cash registers are straight out of the 80s and the decor is minimal and mostly involves photographs from the city area in the early 20th century. Don’t let that fool you. There is almost always a line to get in, and you need to go in slightly off-peak hours to guarantee a seat.
The plaque detailing the ownership of the Hind.
The only major deviation in the menu is the type of fish you can serve, and the sides that can accompany your main course. I recommend the cod, which along with haddock is the traditional choice. The fish slabs are absolutely massive, I could barely finish a third of mine on our last visit, it was easily the length of my arm from fingertip to elbow. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t order the chips, though. Slather those suckers in vinegar and get stuck in!
“I don’t think intelligent reports are all that hot. Some days I get more out of the New York Times.”
- President John F. Kennedy
It’s been a busy week, as you may have suspected. I’m afraid that makes for an even busier Friday, so here are your links. Share anything else worth reading, plus what you’re getting up to this weekend, in the comments and enjoy high summer!
Teri, over at The Lovely Drawer, has shared another design freebie: beautiful desktop wallpapers.
Interesting story about an unexpected sumo wrestler.
Marvel is changing the comic book character Thor to a woman and certain parts of the internet reacted to the news…internet-ish-ly. Luckily the blog Texts from Superheroes had the perfect response.
Art remixes where new and old subjects and pieces are mashed up beautifully. (Warning for pearl-clutchers, nude forms are present!)
This video of a person playing with a platypus is exactly what it says on the tin and much cuter than you’d think. Almost makes you forget those odd beasties have poisonous spines!
A giveaway I assume most US based minions will want to know about.
A Facebook friend, moderator of a freelancer forum I belong to, and a writer herself penned this hugely useful piece on the realities of how to do your taxes when you work for yourself.
I could never persuade Jeff to this, he’s all about lofts and modern space, but I’m currently house-lusting over this 14th century home.
And, the biggest news for me personally, in case you missed it, I wrote an op ed for the New York Times that was published on Tuesday. It contains my perspective on Kate Kelly’s excommunication, its place in the “Mormon Moment,” and what I feel to be the larger implications for the church. It was not easy to write, and it was very scary to share, but I’ve been really overwhelmed at the positive and sincere feedback I’ve received from it. A huge and heartfelt thank you to friend and Friend of the Blog Caitlin Kelly (unrelated to Kate) who urged me to write a piece after many emails on the subjects of Mormonism, feminism, and religion in general, and who helped me to place it.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about wanting to write “hard things.“
This week I got the chance.
It’s an experience that’s still unfolding, but let me just say that I’m grateful to have the chance to contribute what I hope is something meaningful to the conversation. To be able to do so in the Grey Lady herself is truly a privilege.
“In peace and honour rest you here, my sons;
Rome’s readiest champions, repose you here in rest,
Secure from worldly chances and mishaps!
Here lurks no treason, here no envy swells,
Here grow no damned grudges; here are no storms,
No noise, but silence and eternal sleep:
In peace and honour rest you here, my sons!”
― William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus
It is a truth universally-enough acknowledged (ie, by Katarina) that the very best poetry I ever wrote happened in 8th grade and involved a tongue-in-cheek examination of all the misery and slaughter in Shakespeare’s plays. As I was of tender years at the time, my poem did not contain anything of Titus Andronicus since I’d yet to encounter it. In fact I’d never seen a production of it until a couple weekends ago when Jeff and I trotted off to The Globe, about half an hour’s walk from where we live (I know, my life is such a trial…) for this season’s midnight matinee.
I’m pretty sure I first heard about the midnight production from the indomitable Kerry over at Planes, Trains, and Plantagenets, though I don’t remember precisely in what context, but I leapt at the chance for tickets this year. ‘Round midnight we convened and flooded into the theatre, feeling very Tudor-ish.
The production itself was very well done. It was incredibly well acted, especially the disturbed and disturbing role of Lavinia who is traumatized (understandably) nearly out of her humanity. Titus is a hard play for me because while I can handle sex and violence in my entertainment, I don’t do well with sexual violence. Of all Shakespeare’s various victims, to me Lavinia is without question the most victimized and her whole narrative, though important, is incredibly difficult to watch. The direction gave her some wonderful moments of self-realization and justice…though of course her end is pretty terrible. Hats off to Flora Spencer-Longhurst for a powerful performance. Tamora was played by Indira Varma, of Game of Thrones fame (seriously, GoT actors are all over the London Shakespeare game), and William Houston absolutely nailed the role of Titus.
The director made excellent use of the audience and groundlings, bringing much of the action out into the pit itself to use the audience to portray the Roman mob or Gothic hordes as needed. Titus’ entrance involved being carried through the audience in triumph while the crowds cheered his victory.
Minions, it was fantastically gory! By my count, at least four people fainted and had to be carried from the theatre.
Perhaps that’s too enthusiastic a review? I can’t help it. The staff had an amazingly effective system in place. Something horrible would happen on stage, one of the groundlings would wobble for a second before going over, a staff member would make their way into the pit and stand guard while signalling the medic team, who would assemble and quickly cart the senseless, hapless individual away. Like unto the violence itself, there was a sort of method that was admirable and cynical at the same time – how meta!
The Globe, true to its roots, tends to do highly stripped down productions set-wise. It gives things an authentic Tudor feel on the one hand, but also makes their use of 21st century special effects downright eerie. When there is no complex set or costumes to distract you with their modernness , the scene where Titus lays his hand down to be hacked off in order to save his sons’ lives is horribly realistic. Let’s just say that intermission heavily involved mopping up the stage blood and gore from the first half of the performance. It was terrific fun!
Our view, which admittedly did not suck in the slightest, offered a great sense of the stark design of the stage.
We didn’t get home until nearly 4 a.m., and it being summer in London which is a lot further north than a lot of people realize, the sky was already starting to get light as dawn approached. That Sunday was a bit long, but completely worth it, and I absolutely plan on repeating the occasion next year. Alas, it probably will not be nearly as bloody.
“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.”
― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
A friend sent me one of those silly Buzzfeed quizzes, which I decided to take for fun. “Which is your patron saint?” However, when one of the questions turned out to be…
…given my longstanding personal conflict, I couldn’t help but smile.
I guess I’ll take it.