London Day Two: Scholastics and Slapstick

“The most wonderful thing in life is to be delirious and the most wonderful kind of delirium is being in love. In the morning mist, hazy and amorous, London was delirious. London squinted as it floated along, milky pink, without caring where it was going.”
― Yevgeny Zamyatin, Islanders And, The Fisher Of Men

We made it out of bed in surprisingly good time and hotfooted it down to Houghton Street to pick up our tickets for the graduation ceremony.  And then, by damn it was time to shop!

We shopped around Leicester Square (more on that later) and Piccadilly, and bought tickets to the shows we wanted to see.  Because if you’re in London, darlings you must see some shows.  Minions failing to do so will be sacked.

We went to the Natural History Museum in Kensington, just down the road from the Victoria and Albert Museum which we decided to skip since we’ve both been there.  The Smithosonian in D.C. is, I think, superior to the NHM but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t stuffed with interesting things.  Some really fantastic fossils in particular!

Currently the main exhibit is Animal Inside Out, which is like the Bodies exhibit that made the tours a few years ago.  Animals are put through a plastination process to show the various functions of the body.  It’s weird enough without being gruesome to keep kids interested, and plenty fascinating for everyone else.  Its not a free exhibit, but since the rest of the museum is, it’s well worth checking out.  Photos not allowed, alas!

Credit where credit is due, though. The exterior beats the Smithsonian into the ground.  This is only one wing.
This fossil was discovered by Lyme Regis by Mary Anning, an early fossil hunter who (despite being female in Victorian England) contributed much of the founding work of paleontology. Her work was also key to Darwin and other evolutionary theorists.*

After the museum, I took J. to one of my favorite eateries in Kensington, but you’ll have to wait to hear more about that later.  The suspense, kittens!

Our repast devoured we collected our shopping finds and made our way to the West End to see One Man Two Guvnors at the Royal Haymarket Theatre.  This comedy first came to our attention last Autumn when we were getting J. settled for school because the lead role was played by James Corden (who might be J.’s favorite guest star on Dr. Who ever).  Sadly he’s no longer in the role, but Owain Arthur was fantastic!

Most London theatres are magnificent, Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian illusions. They always seem unbelievably small when you first walk into them, the stairs are dangerously narrow, the wooden seats are crammed in tight with no leg room at all… all of which you instantly forget the moment the curtain rises.

It was uproariously funny, a classic British sort of comedy mixed coerced audience participation, continual breaking of the fourth wall in hilarious ways, a live band, and screaming laughter all around.  See it if you get the chance, our sides hurt coming out of the theatre!

The Haymarket Theatre is the third oldest theatre still operating in London, and has been around since 1720, though the current building and location date from the 1820s. It’s also responsible for introducing the matinee performance. Making tickets cheaper since 1873!

There are lots of ticketing sales booths, particularly around Leicester Square, but they aren’t always the best places to get tickets.  Often the theatres offer student discounts, and like I said matinee tickets are a fabulous way to see a show for less (and to leave your evenings free for other shows, dining, or general goofing off).  There are also a plethora of websites that do pop up deals (here’s a good one).  Bottom line, to see a show in London, do your research.  Know what you’re interested in seeing and shop around in person (seriously, take the time to compare prices at the theatres, sales booths, etc.) and online.

*I read a biography of Mary Anning and her work recently, which is why I got all geeky about seeing her collection gallery.  Check it out, it’s an easy and interesting read:  The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World

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