Tuesday, November 5, 2013

On the road again: London, day 3

Roughly twenty years ago, while on a trip here, I bought a pair of bespoke shoes from John Lobb, one of the best and most storied shoemakers in the world.  I was unable to return for the first fitting, so I had them send the shoes to me.  As is common the shoes did not fit entirely perfectly--John Lobb assumes an adjustment or two, and the purchase price covers it--but I never found the time to go back to London (or to them on their visits to New York City, Washington D.C., or Atlanta), and so the shoes sat in my closet.

I brought them with me this trip and returned today to John Lobb to get the good folks there to redo the parts of the shoes I found uncomfortable.  Within roughly a month, I should have the shoes back.  I am quite happy at the prospect of finally being able to wear them.

I made rather a late start of it today, because exhaustion finally beat me into a very long night's sleep indeed.  So, I had a hasty lunch at a nearby Pret a Manger, which Gina had recommended as having decent quick food and free Wi-Fi.

From there, the next stop was the Victoria and Albert Museum, one of those wondrous London museums that is simply too huge for anyone to see in its entirety in a single visit. 

Click on an image to see a larger version.

I had a great time wandering exhibits on topics as varied as Japan, costuming, England in the 1500s, and Raphael.  I particularly liked this stairwell, which was all that remains of a large timber house from about 1530 in Brittany. 

Here you can see all of its floors.

Ancient timber houses fascinate me in part because it is so hard to find examples that have survived the combination of renovation and fires that consumed almost all of them. 

Another fine specimen was this section of the facade of Sir Paul Pinder's house from about 1600. 

In a large hall devoted to casts, these casts of Trajan's column in Rome were particularly impressive.

So much to see, so little time.

Tonight's main attraction was a trip to this historic theater

where I had the honor and pleasure of getting to see this play

from the third row, slightly to stage left, with stars Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones.  What a marvelous time it was.  When these two legends got rolling, you forgot their age, forgot everything except the characters they were playing so wonderfully. 

If I could, I would bring every friend I have here just to see this show.  

"...man is a giddy thing," Shakespeare wrote and James Earl Jones said earlier tonight from maybe fifteen feet away from me, "and this is my conclusion."  I was giddy indeed tonight.


Anonymous said...

Yeah! - the V & A!
I visited it all too briefly in '97, while on tour with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. I remember going into the cast room, and saying "wow," then spotting Trajan's column and looking up and up and up and saying "WOW!"
My art history prof said you can "visit" all of Europe in that one room, and that it contains many masterpieces that are otherwise lost because of bombing in the world wars, etc. I'm jealous! Have fun in London!
- old aggie

Mark said...

London is amazing indeed.


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