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[personal profile] dmjewelle
In the morning I persuaded my mum to leave the room and explore Oxford Street in its entirety if she really wanted a handbag. Also it is NOT okay to stay in your room all day and watch TV when you're 10,000km from home.

I made sure she got on the bus, then embarked on my own epic journey.

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Like this, but without the trashbag coat.



Pearl asked me to look out for cute guys. Here's one.

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Reached Piccadilly Circus!

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Since Denise and Esther weren't there yet, I took a look around.

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On the right corner is the Criterion Restaurant, featured in the Sherlock Holmes story "A Study in Scarlet" when Watson's friend hooks him up with Holmes. Present-day, the prices aren't within my budget. Well they COULD be, but maybe when someone hooks me up with a loyal steadfast doctor who'll flee from explosions with me. XP


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Apparently a bunch of art students were around the area doing background studies. Clean pavement, 14°C sunless skies, nobody bothering you or ganking your stuff...if I was an art student I'd sit at Piccadilly Circus too.


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Someone recording a TV segment down at Leicester Square. This area and Piccadilly are FULL of tourist junk. Some shops sell tickets for plays/musicals, though I don't know if they hike up the prices.

Denise & Esther reached Piccadilly around the same time, and the first order of business was to collect my tickets!

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What a quiet opulent place! Complete with heavy doors!

Went to the lady at the counter, who asked me for my house address.

me: 221 Ja-
lady: -Here's your ticket!
me: Don't you want my credit card or something?
lady: No, your address is just fine! *smile*

It's nice to have an exotic house address, I guess.

Then because I have stalker tendencies, we went to check out the theatre's stage door! Y'know, so I can ambush Ben Whishaw, BAFTA-winning woodland creature extraordinaire.

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We went to a pub called The Angel & Crown for lunch because they had £10 lunch sets. I am fully aware that £10 is a LOT to spend on for lunch considering the exchange rate, but pub grub!

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Fish & chips with mushy peas, and coke in a GLASS BOTTLE! Totally worth my money! The English love chips. I am told potatoes are laden with vitamin C, but as a small-appetite Asian I can only stuff so many thick-cut chips into my stomach and commit food wastage. Also, Day 2's incident scared me off eating the entire week. :(

We headed to Trafalgar Square.

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Apparently they have eradicated the pigeons from the area. Now it's just filled with loitering tourists and buskers who won't let you do anything until you give them money. Like pigeons with rights and stuff. And go to school. And be athletes.


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I did NOT notice the napping bum until I took the pic!


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There were some people who put paper and markers on the ground and people were invited to draw their home country flags on the paper BUT it's not free! You have to pay THEM money to draw! Somewhere this capitalist scheme made no sense to me, but Denise and Esther have long learned to eschew sense (presumably from postgraduate studies) and do it anyway.


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Here's a bagpiper! Earlier another tourist took his bagpipe to play a song and he was pretty good at it.

Not that this guy is a slouch either.




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I came to the National Art Gallery to do one thing: here's how Denise helped.

Denise: I'm going to ask you a stupid question you've probably heard many times.
Guide: LOL go ahead anyway.
Denise: Where is the Skyfall painting?
Me: The painting has a name, you know!
Guide: LOL The Fighting Temeraire? Room 34. *gives directions*
Esther: THIS is WHY we're HERE?
Me: Hush.

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Went to room, saw painting. Not impressed.

The gallery does not allow photographs at any time, this was a very sneaky shot taken from my phone. I am fairly proud of my paparazzi photo skills, thank Japan for it.

Since the gallery is FREE, we mingled among the throngs of French schoolchildren (!?) and checked out all the other art...as well as an irreverent scientific person can, anyway. For some reason we also worked our way BACKWARDS, so we could see the devolution of art over time (or how less Christ-worshippy Europe got over the centuries).


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The Boulevard Montmartre at Night, Camille Pisarro (1897)

Looking at it from afar is impressive; when you're about 10 inches from the painting, it really is a whole bunch of dots and dabs and impossible to make out ANYTHING. Pisarro apparently had a tear duct problem, which might be why the scene looks like he painted it when it was raining.


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Diana and Endymion, Pierre Subleyras (~1740)

Esther: There's a certain... erotic fission about it.
Denise: It -is- the seduction of Endymion.
Esther: True.
Me: I'm thinking Sailormoon.
Esther: He's not even looking the right way, do you think he's even sleeping?
Me: Having a wet dream?
Esther: He's not even facing the boobs!
Me: He's gay?
Denise: ...=__=


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Drunken Silenus supported by Satyrs, attributed to Anthony van Dyck (~1620)

Esther: I'll bet you the fat guy is Bacchus! ...oh he's not.
Me: He's Santa.
Esther: I'd be drunk too if I didn't have anything to show for it...
Me: Go home Santa, you're drunk. And being raped by Satyrs. Aren't satyrs woodland creatures?
Denise: I guess?
Me: Ben Whishaw is a woodland creature. If he raped Santa, who would play Santa?
Esther: I CANNOT UNSEE MENTAL PICTURE.
Denise: DMJ GET OUT OF LONDON.


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St Ambrose barring Theodosius from Milan Cathedral, Anthony van Dyck (~1619-1620)

According to the information card, St Ambrose The Gold (seriously that's his title) prevented Emperor Theodosius from entering the cathedral after a massacre.

Esther: YOUUU SHAAAALL NOT PAAAASSSSSS! [/gandalf]
Denise: Then he turns into St Ambrose the White!
Me: White is a step down from gold...
Denise: St Ambrose the White-Gold!
Esther: ST AMBROSE THE PLATINUM!! 8DDD


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The Madonna and Child with Saints, Parmigianino (1526-27)

Information card states that during the Sack of Rome, the soldiers were so impressed with this painting that they left the artist to complete his work. Here's what we think happened:

"So the soldiers burst in and they went 'WOAH DUDE that is a badass painting!' and 'Yeah, I really like the colours, that guy's finger is SO strong and angry!' and 'That's a very powerful image of St Jerome sleeping, I really like that' and then the painter was like, 'So uh, should I stop or...' and the soldiers were all, 'No, no it's okay bro, you just...you just do your thang, kay, we'll just hit up the house next door, stay cool brah,' and then they left and went YAAAAARGHH at the rest of Rome. The end."

We also tried replicating badass pose. Not easy.

Esther saw a guide (or two) roll their eyes at us. Probably thinking, "Goddamn irreverent Asian assholes desecrating our fine European culture," too.

After having our jollies, we went to Covent Garden because Esther wanted to look at soap. I nearly died from the scent! x__x


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Look ma, no standing! Very popular in England.

They bought me the Sherlock Casebook (eee!) and I treated them to frozen yogurt.


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So you refill your bar with a Megaman E-tank energy drink, then save your game at the London maps. I LIKE THIS SYSTEM ALREADY.

After ensuring I knew how to get back to the hotel after the theatre, I asked Denise & Esther to camp out at the stage door with me. Y'know, in case I get to ambush Ben Whishaw. They were initially reluctant because they had a bus to catch but after calculation they didn't have to rush that much so they agreed.

YOU SHOULD THANK ME, LADIES.

So there we were at 5-5.30 PM, hanging out behind Noel Coward Theatre waiting for something to happen. In the cold. Holding a Sherlock book. Esther looked around and wondered if she could Assassin's Creed her way up to an open window on the building's first floor (or 2nd? Can't remember) and then we could spy on whoever we wanted. I developed massive self-esteem and insecurity issues stemming from "What if I'm too awkward and I say something stupid and ruin EVERYTHING?!"

Then we got bored.

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Then around 6PM, a little lady turned the corner and headed to the stage door.

It was Dame Judi Dench.

Us: ...DDDDDDDDDD8 IS THAT-

It was only us and 3 autograph hunters, and they immediately asked for her autograph. We waited, and one guy asked her to sign the inside of his phone case.

Judi Dench: LOL Is that safe?!
Man: LOL yes, it is!
Judi Dench: What shall I write on it? Does this phone have a camera? Shall I write "Take the bloody shot?" Have you seen Skyfall?

And that is what she wrote on his case.

I asked her for a pic (for my dad) and she very nicely obliged!

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Denise isn't in the picture because she took the bloody shot. 8D

Then she left, and we squealed because OH MY GOD WE TOOK A PICTURE WITH JUDI DENCH and she wasn't mobbed by ANYONE! X3 X3 X3 We had a serious discussion over who should post the picture first, bluetoothed it all around, and then it was time for them to go so we had a group hug of SUCCESS and parted ways. I hung around till 7, satisfied nobody else was coming, went into the theatre, got my program book, and sat down.

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Not bad, not bad at all.

Lots of old people watching, they chatted, there was an announcement to turn off your mobile phones etc, they kept chatting, Ben Whishaw appeared and POOF silent theatre. I couldn't really hear because people kept COUGHING at some time or other, but-


-- INTERLUDE --
PLOT-SPOILER REVIEW: PETER & ALICE

Play by John Logan, Starring Ben 'woodland creature' Whishaw & Dame Judi 'M' Dench.

Peter & Alice is about Peter Llewelyn Davies (the inspiration for Peter Pan) and Alice Liddell Hargreaves (the inspiration for Alice In Wonderland) meeting in a bookstore. Peter (Whishaw) is a publisher, and wants Alice (Dench) to publish her memoirs, since she's old and all. Alice is against the idea, and their pasts come to life around them. As time goes by they grow up through different experiences and the pressure of constantly being the inspiration of literature's most famous characters take their toll on them. Despite Carroll's objections Alice grows up, and finds adulthood not all it's cracked up to be while Peter is forced to grow up hellbent on not being 'The Boy Who Never Grows Up' because "Children only never grow up when they die" (his words not mine). Then their fictional selves pop up and say more surreal stuff, then finally everyone closes and Alice beckons Peter to find the lost child in his happy memories and reconcile with it. He rejects her offer, and they go their separate ways, coinciding with history - she dies happy, he jumps in front of a train. The ending also kills the entire audience as I overhear people say, "OH MY GOD THAT ENDING ALL OF MY FEELS WTF". Because you know, Ben Whishaw apparently loves to die and people can't get enough of seeing him die.

The play has really good lines, the lion's share going to Dench and Whishaw. Seeing them converse is the best part, and thankfully there's lots of banter. "Peter Pan and Alice In Wonderland, we could be our own children's department!" Dench says, and her sarcasm makes the audience laugh. All 5 other supporting actors are just that, supporting the 2 main actors either by their actions or words (or Lewis Carroll and JM Barrie dancing a waltz together WHO KNEW THAT PAIRING WORKS) that prompt them to delve further into their dialogue. It really is the Dench & Whishaw show, and good thing they're great actors. The last scene when Alice offers her hand to Peter and saying, "I know the way to Wonderland" while Peter hesitates and stammers, "...I've grown up" will BREAK hearts. The script goes nowhere, gives the best lines only to the main actors, and covers itself in confusing old-fashioned english to sound classy but the acting and the set helps to forget that for a while.

Best watched at least twice to figure out what are they trying to tell the audience, but to watch it once for Dench & Whishaw acting live was well worth the trip.

-- END INTERLUDE --


Then I shuffled out and went back to the stage door where I was first in line after the autograph hunters and an asian girl who camped out back with her iphone and stood by the door with her GAME FACE. In the picture below, you can see the hoodied spectacled girl in the center of the background. That's her.

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A few more girls stood around, one was an American, two were from China (one was studying in London). Ben Whishaw was talking to an Indian couple (they might've been the ones in the TV show about the Kumars or something, I'm not sure) while the supporting cast came out and we took their autographs first. A lady came out to inform us that Judi Dench was exiting from the front door - apparently the routine is one enters from front, the other from back, and they switch it after the play to make sure the camping is evenly spread out. Later when the Indian couple stepped out, one guy asked for the autograph and the Indian man says, "Sure, I'm Judi Dench, I don't look it but I'm very versatile!" and he signs while everyone laughs.

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Dammit woodland creature, stop hiding. I come from the equator, and I'm *cold*.

Halfway getting worried I'd be standing outside till 11PM, he opens the door at 9.30!

After the autograph hunters I go up to him.
Me: Mr Whishaw, I'm from Malaysia, my friend is from Malaysia, she has a letter and postcards for you... *shows him postcards*
Fangirls: *mumbling* ooo!
Ben Whishaw: Oh, how nice!
Me: ...Here's the envelope, here's her address, feel free to write to her...can you sign everything else?
*Ben Whishaw uses autograph. It is super effective!*
Me: ...Could you make it out "To JV?"
Ben Whishaw: J....V? V?
Me: Yes, V
Ben Whishaw: V? *tests alphabet*
Me: Like Vienna, yes, yes, that alphabet.
*He signs*

I thank him, then the China girls take a picture with him, then I remember CRAP I'm supposed to take a pic of him with the signed postcard, so I turn back. The China girls kindly offer to take my photo for me.

Me: I'm so sorry Mr Whishaw, the girl who drew the postcards, she wants a picture of you holding the postcard. Could you take a picture with me?
Ben: *does so* (I think he says sure, I can't remember)
Fangirls: *mumbling, probably 'aaa so jealous kill her now'*
Me: *IS THAT HIS HAND ON MY SHOULDER AAA HIS FACE IS SO CLOSE WHAT SHOULD I DO OHSHI THE CAMERA-*

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Pictured: Two awkward creatures in front of a camera.

From now on if anyone doesn't recognise him, Imma saying THIS IS MY NEW BOIFRAN HIS NAME IS BEN.

I got out of the way for the rest, and thanked the China girls by offering them one of the signed postcards. Apologised for my horrible Mandarin only to realise it didn't matter because they thought I was Japanese. See, even native CHINESE don't think I'm Chinese, all your arguments are invalid.

China girls: You also like Sherlock!
Me: ...How did you know!
*China girls point to Sherlock Casebook*
Me: ...oh!

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We chat a bit about Benedict Cumberbatch, watch Ben Whishaw do his woodland creature thing for everyone else (no shoving no shouting, everyone was just so polite and orderly!), then left because I didn't want to reach the hotel too late. It was probably like 12°C but my heart was FILLED WITH WARMFUZZIES I ran back to Charing Cross, then got a bit disoriented. Asked 2 guys for help but they were American tourists on their first day in London, but I got to the bus stop (and the hotel) safely!

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Dad said he read that London has the most security cameras in the world. Seeing TWO on the bus's lower deck, I firmly believe it.



In short: Best. Day. Ever. <3

Next up: Shakespeare! Midsummer Murder-esque towns! And a PILE of ROCKS!
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