This post is more about culture and memories than about books, but I feel that I have to get on a virtual soap box and make this speech. Bear with me, it might get soppy and long.
Right about 19 years ago I went to London on a university excursion, based, of course, on a Shakespeare seminar I was attending. I clearly remember not liking the coach trip at all, the driver was overly tired having just come back from Greece a few hours before we were scheduled to roll off towards England, and he was about to fall asleep at the wheel several times. Anyway, we managed to arrive in London and drive past the Palace of Westminster just as Big Ben was banging out at 8 a.m. Not being able to check into our hotel in a side street behind Piccadilly Circus until the afternoon, we started to roam the streets of London at a very early hour.
Having recently read Rutherfurd’s London and armed with my knowledge of previous visits to London, I went off towards Trafalgar Square, because in a side street between Piccadilly and Leicester Square there was a tiny café that served a marvellous English Breakfast. That day I managed to find exactly what I was looking for without ever having to consult a map, Trafalgar’s Square, Twining’s on Fleet Street, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Museum of London, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Seven Dials, and several bookshops on the way. Perfect day! About to be crowned with a theatrical performance.
Then my group of students met at The Globe Theatre in the evening to watch a performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Definitely not one of my favourite plays. Add Groundling tickets, a slight drizzle, and a hurting back from ten hours of nearly constant walking through the city. I was so not up for standing around for three hours and watching the play, BUT Vanessa Redgrave, in her role as Prospero, made every aching muscle worth it. I’m not going to pretend she and the wonderful performance by all of the cast made me fall in love with the play, but I will never forget the fish that were flying into the audience at one point. And that is a memory I will treasure all my life and it’s the memory I share the most when being asked whether I have been to the Globe.
I promised you memories at the beginning of this post. I have fond memories of this visit to the Globe. Other friends have similar memories, Emily, for example, saw Love’s Labour’s Lost with her mother when she was eleven and got hooked so much that she’s now working at the Globe. But will she be able to be working at the Globe for much longer? World renowned ‘heritage sights’ all over the UK are suddenly under threat of closing FOR EVER due to lack of funding; see the arts funding plea. Do we really want this to happen? Everyone should get a chance at making such profound memories. It doesn’t have to be at the Globe, it could be at Jane Austen’s home, or any other literary and/or historically relevant place.
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