Saturday, May 22:  For the Children

Asked at breakfast if I could have my eggs scrambled instead of fried (“If you don’t ask, you won’t get it.”) No, but they could do it “for the children.” With a smile, I suggested Robert would then have scrambled eggs and I would have a fried egg and we’d swap. But Robert wanted scrambled eggs and then so did David. So we ended up with three plates of scrambled eggs, “just this one time.” Dropped off a load of laundry at the laundromat, to have the attendant do it - the only way to go. Bought a weekend family pass for the Tube - same price as a one-way ticket during the week.

World History 205, The Ancient World. First stop today was the British Museum, where we followed Rick’s recipe. Egyptians, Assyrians and Greeks. Saw the Rosetta Stone, lots of mummies (one about 5,000 years old), and the decorative friezes and other sculpted elements from the Greek Parthenon. Quite a bit of loot.

Noontime, and Pat was again on the prowl for day-of-show discount theatre tickets. But first, she wanted to take her chances with the box office at the Lyceeum, where the Lion King is one of the hotter tickets in town. No bargains for the 2 PM matinee, but they had excellent tickets available, 15th row, dead center. What the hell, damn the cost, we went ahead and did it “for the children.”

Culinary Arts 315, British Fare. Just outside the British Museum, I spotted a whiskey shop, Royal Mile Whiskies. Despite the urgency of Pat’s mission, I was drawn in. Seeing plenty of smaller bottles about, I got the clerk’s advice on a portable bottle akin to my preferences that might get me to Scotland. 1993 Caol Ila, Distilled 4.10.93, Bottled 6.2.04, Cask No. 13232. A sampling later that evening proved it was an excellent recommendation. After purchasing our Lion King tickets, we went right next door to The Wellington for a real pub lunch. Steak and Guiness Pie for Pat and I, and Robert had Sausage and Mash. The John Smith’s beer was quite good also. (Photo 147)

Theatre Arts 102: British Popular Theatre. (Prerequisite: Theatre Arts 101) The Lion King was indeed a great performance and great entertainment, even if I have never enjoyed the story line much and have seen the video too many times with the boys. It was interesting to see how they managed to recreate scenes within the restrictions of live theatre which had originally been done with the freedom of animation. For example, the stampede of the wildebeasts was especially well executed.

Back at the hotel, I asked at the front desk if they knew of a park nearby where the boys might blow off some steam. The reply was Hyde Park, which I knew certainly was not in walking distance. My disappointment must have shown on my face, since he hesitated and asked me to wait for a minute and maybe he might be able to do something. Eventually, he produced a key to one of the nearby “key gardens,” as a favor “for the children.” Sprinkled about London there are large green spaces, full of lawn and trees and bushes and flowers, that are privately owned by what I suspect are akin to neighborhood associations. And it takes a key to get yourself through the gate. Eccleston Gardens was a refreshing break, even if football was outlawed and the big toy was a bit too small. And the favor was greatly appreciated. (Photo 148)

We got creative for dinner, though not authentic. Back to Victoria Station, which has a sizable shopping mall and food court. Take-away 2-for-1 pizzas, and the waiter there suggested drinks from McDonalds (cheapest) and just sit in the food court to eat it all. This was a much better deal than eating in the pizza restaurant itself. Dessert was ice cream bars from a newsstand out front and Budweiser from a mini-market. Now this would indeed seem to be selling-out on Rick’s “go-local” philosophy. McDonald’s and Budweiser???? I have no excuse for going to Mac’s Place, it was an obvious moment of weakness. Maybe we should have gone to KFC next door instead. But the Budweiser is the genuine article, from Czechoslovakia.

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Photo 147  Lyceeum Theatre, Wellington Pub
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Photo 148  Eccelston Square Key Garden