ENGLAND

OCTOBER 1980

 

 

October 10 and 11

Started off after a hectic nervous day at work.My 10:15 flight was listed as delayed until 11:30pm.Unfortunately, at 10:45 the announcement came down that the flight would be delayed and Laker was moving us (in chaos) to a hotel for a few hours sleep.The bus shuttle to the hotel was so slow that I was still there to hear a quiet comment that "a few seats were open on the other "early" flight if one didn't mind having the luggage come late.It wasn't a mistake, but it was a wretched flight.I was sick most of the time -- nerves, exhaustion, a bug, who knows? Gatwick saved me around 12 noon.Another hassle getting through customs -- without luggage -- but now (1:30) I've got £'s in hand and I am heading to Victoria Station.This beats our train to the plane -- there's no changing, the train stop is connected to the terminal, and the train is nice.Facing seats for 4 reminiscent of compartments.All neat and clean and complete with curtains.†† The Victoria Station tourist board booked me quickly into a cheap room -- Hammond's Motel (68 Denbigh Rd) It's shabby and makes the old YWCA look like a palace, but it's perfectly respectable and at £7 a day for room, breakfast, service and tax, who can quibble?Despite no sleep and no baggage, I went on the 2hr (sedentary) bus tour of the city.It was a good quick orientation -- everything from St. Paulís to the bombed shell of the former Iranian embassy.I dozed off once or twice, but enjoyed most sitting up top and up front on the double-decker bus.

 

Supper was a lousy hamburger and coke at a Wimpys.Revolting, yes, but somehow it sat well on my poor stomach.Now, at last, I can get some sleep.Aside from maybe 2 1/2 hours on the plane (not deep doze of course) I've been at it since 7am NY yesterday.It's now 1pm NY.Yawn.I'll get the suitcase tomorrow morning.I don't think I'd make it tonight.

 

 

October 12

 

Breakfast showed up in my room at 9am sharp, my "soft" egg was hard, but other than that it's a great way to start the day.First task was a quick trip out to Gatwick to collect my suitcase.Now I'm all set.For the afternoon I walked to Westminster via the view side of the Thames, munched an ice cream cone, and took the boat up to the Tower.I loved the Tower -- again, as I realized when I saw the vaguely familiar armor.Especially the chapels -- St Peter ad Vincula and St John in the white Tower.Oh, and the crown jewels are my favorites always.†† After the tour, I wandered next door to St. Katharineís (spelled right!!) Haven, a little marina and shop area off the Thames.There's a little canal entrance, then it spreads right out.Apparently it's a Quincey Market type revival and very effective.†† My next exploration took me on my first underground ride back to Victoria -- right on target.I had a nice sandwich supper at Mab's in the Grosverner Hotel.Then I ventured to Picadilly Circus to see the London Experience.I've never seen the NY one, but this reminded me of Disneyland's America the Beautiful only in 160į.The spookiest thing was the theme song -- Pomp and Circumstance.I started crying a bit just the way I did at the Boston Pops concert before graduation.†† I got lost and frustrated on the tube coming back, but made it eventually.Then I survived my first use of the phone when I called Eileen Hellicar to check in.Not impossible, of course; but just leave it to me to be intimidated.Now to bed to dream -- pray -- of heat in my room.Fantasy is great!!

 

 

October13

 

One thing I do notice about being on my own is my swings in mood -- roller coaster like.Way up for a success (arranging a car rental by phone); way down for a "failure" (getting lost in the one way streets of Brighton.) Today overall was a great success, so I shouldn't have been so up and down, but what can you do?†† Morning was spent doing errands -- Avis, via phone, Cartwright Gardens for next weeks' hotel(big improvement) and thank you gods Covent Garden for my ballet tickets.I'm really going, next Thursday.††† By the time (12:30ish) it was a mad rush to Gatwick to pick up my car, a tiny red Ford Fiesta, standard, of course.Well, after all my terror and apprehensions, it turned out to be quite survivable.I only had one lapse -- at a roundabout, of course, but it wasn't a real scare, just a spook.It took me forever to get untangled and to my hotel -- Fodor recommends again.Tonight Iím in relative luxury -- a double bed, lots of blankets, 2 towels, clean bath, and gods be praised again, a heater that heats!! All this and breakfast at £8 and 100 yards from the water.††† I strolled straight out to the pier, which was deserted, rusting and peeling.All surface damage, really, but pretty rundown looking.They were repairing a lot, whether it's annual damage or a long overdue overhaul, I don't know.A lot of the pier was cheap (relatively clean) honky tonk, but the very end had some decent looking spots -- a cafe and an Edwardian slot machine museum.Iíll have to send a card to Pam and Wee!†† My feet then took me on a search for the Theatre Royal (more later) when omigosh, there was the Royal Pavilion -- right in the center of town, as if it were on Sumner Avenue! I'd driven by twice, blindly.I can't wait to get inside tomorrow.††† Dinner (after a hot bath) was at a little wine bar.I liked the food, the help was nice, but I was all alone.I know I was early, but no one else was there and I left at 7:30! It was pleasant, though, in the "LanesĒ, a series of little boutique-y streets.††† Finally on to the Theatre Royal for a very nice performance of Company~.Funny how I know almost all of the songs from the Side by Side revue.I really enjoyed it (withdrawal staved off again!) and it capped off a good day.

 

 

October14

 

I'm really getting good at driving here, but oh God am I bad at planning! Left Brighton at 12:45 today in a fabulous mood after "doing" the Pavilion.Arrived Penzance 8:45pm zapped.Mind you, I wasted maybe an hour total for the various times I missed turns or otherwise got lost, but STILL! I'm so glad that I'll be staying put for a while, and MEANDERING back (3 days rather that 1).Anyway, that's the bad news; the good is that I LOVED the Pavilion.It's just as crazy as Mummy made it sound.(I found her a Pavilion domed cookie jar for Xmas.) Everything outside is amusement park Indian; everything inside is a la Chinoise.Almost nothing looked really Chinese to me just vaguely Oriental zed.

 

The drive over did have some nice points -- one was coming upon Arundel out of nowhere and suddenly seeing the castle and church up on a hill surrounded by the town roofs.The scenery of Dorset and Devon (getting dark) was also dazzling -- GREEN hills with sheep and cows, the color just luminous after rain and against sun-streaked black clouds.(Made driving Hell!)

 

 

October15

 

Well, we pulled it off -- Katie and the Kershners meeting in Penzanze.I was a bit worried at first -- I was quite late (no good reason) so I spend the morning prowling around town.Hard on the legs as it's all up and down the hill from the harbor.Then at noon I met Cynthia and Chuck at the Abbey Hotel, unfortunately closed for the winter! We lunched at a pub then headed out to St. Michaelís Mount.Oh how I loved it.You walk out over a slippery stone causeway several hundred years old.Then it's straight up to a great castle/abbey on top of the rock.The weather did not cooperate for comfort -- chilly and gray - but boy was it ever atmospheric! I have to leave the descriptions to the guidebook and pictures, but I did love it.†† Afterwards we drove over to St. Ives (1 met a man with seven wives...) Charming village, but a quick drive through was quite adequate.I was then dropped off at the hotel and C&C headed off, next to be seen back in NY.Dinner at the Admiral Benbow, then home through the rain to bed and sleep.

 

 

October16

 

Miserable day -- RAINY and windy.I ditched my plan of going to the Scillys and drove instead out to Land's End.I ended up drenched to the skin, but blown away by the beauty and the being there.Yet another spot bigger than anyone human.I don t suppose I saw more than three people out there; the tour bus crowd headed for the tea shop and didn't budge.What fools! I could even see a ship making its way around the point, the bow cutting under the waves again and again.And I'm sure that this was only the usual foul weather, nothing special.†† The rest of the day I just explored -- rained out at Logan Rock, but then over to St. Just and the Botallack Mine (shades of Poldark.) On the way back I found the Lanyon Quoit -- one of those ancient burial monuments.I climbed around it, but except for the loneliness, I didn't get any particularly eerie feel.Either I'm comfortable with spooks, or I was too wet to enjoy.,I also detoured through Mousehole which is most appropriately named.I never would have driven through if I'd realized what it was like -- the blessings of ignorance! The streets were so narrow that I was squeezing through a la Portugal in my little Fiesta.Had a nice tea in town then laid low for the rest of the afternoon and had dinner in.Please let the weather be better tomorrow.

 

 

October17

 

What a fabulous day.The weather was ghastly, but what the hell! - I tootled off to the Tolgus mines (vaguely interesting) then through Portheath which is a beautiful beach.BUT then I went on to Tintagel.The weather was perfect -- so awful that there was no ticket taker in sight.It poured and blew.I spent a half hour huddled in the corner of a castle wall waiting for a break.When I finally hiked through the cut onto the island castle I was all alone.I was literally fighting the wind for my balance right there on the edge of the world.How easy it is to picture Merlin struggling down the cliff with a maid and baby in tow.I mean, it's a perfect fit.†† Afterwards I slogged off into the storm and ended up with a fabulous stroke of luck -- I made it to Glastonbury and found a place to stay with a delightful couple -- we spent the entire evening laughing and talking our way through a bottle of wine.

 

 

October18

 

Glastonbury has other treasures -- most notably the Abbey with its grave of King Arthur and St. Patrickís chapel.It was absolutely magic -- here's a neat green park with these Gothic wall fragments here and there.The Abbey complex must have been mind boggling; the ruins have even more magic, being just outlines, hints of an early mystery.†† Wells Cathedral was next which I also loved.Those inverted arches really are smashing.I spent the afternoon in Bath and that was plenty, thank you.To me it's just a crowded shopping center.The baths, assembly rooms, costumes just didn't do much for me.The Royal Crescent was nice, but I left it all behind with not a regret.†† Tonight I'm giving myself a splurge -- staying at a real hotel.The real reason is that I was too chicken to really seek out a reasonable place, but I've rationalized this and it is lovely.

 

 

October19

 

Caught Mass this morning at St. Osmund's -- just like home; even the same hymns.Then it was on to Stonehenge which was glorious.(Everything I see is as thrilling as the place before.) Even with people around, there's something mystic and eerie about it.And no way is it small or disappointing the way the guidebooks warn.I absolutely loved it.†† Avebury was different.It's a bigger site, but oh is it weird.There's a whole village in and around the stones and earthworks.The site is impressive, but the stones are smallish and the cows, traffic, inn seem a bit distracting.Avebury is a place far someone like Johnny who can shut out everything and build a full image in his own imagination.†† I hit the Cathedral (Salisbury) last and then holed up happily for a slow dinner and evening in the hotel.†† Then it was back UP to the castle which had some smashing views of the cathedral.I ran into another man from the hotel who's in Lincoln prosecuting a bribery case.He showed me the courtroom (within the castle) which is laid out formally like ours, but REEKS of history and tradition.

 

Then lunch at White's in the Jew's House.What a delight.I had a jacket potato (baked with butter and grated cheese) and a salad of corn, celery, ham, cucumber, and tomato with a vinaigrette dressing.Fabulous!After lunch, I headed back UP and went to the Lincolnshire life museum which was charming -- low-key but full of old clothes and sample rooms and shops.†† I spent the evening back at the hotel yakking it up in the lounge, mostly with a newcomer -- salesman type, a real talker.It was fun for awhile, then I escaped to bed.

 

 

October 20

 

The luck's with me again, or still...I had an easy drive across to Gatwick, a quick trip to Victoria, easy errands (Laker and bank) then I hit King's Cross and walked straight onto the Lincoln train with minutes to spare.I'm at a nice hotel near the Cathedral and I met a delightful couple (Keith and Julie) with whom I took an evening stroll.I'm quite excited about getting out tomorrow and really poking around.

 

 

October 21

 

Well, Lincoln ranks up there on my ''I wouldn't mind coming back" list.I started with the Cathedral which is lovely.It feels surprisingly big, Katherine's tomb wasn't impressive, but the feel of the book is in the Cathedral and its surroundings.Then I went DOWN to the high bridge and had tea with Keith and Julie from the hotel.The bridge is a proper 16th century one complete with swans underneath.

 

 

October 22

 

Back to London on the train this morning.I really hated to leave Lincoln.I settled in and collected my bags, then spent the afternoon at the British Museum -- big bore.Nothing really caught my fancy , even though I know how marvelous it is to see the Rosetta Stone and Magna Carta.So back to the hotel for a shower to improve my mood.†† I wandered all around Leicester Sq.and Piccadilly looking for a restaurant; ended up at an OK Chinese place.That's the hardest for me -- picking eating places.That's when I feel most alone, but I cope.

 

 

October 23

 

This was an on again off again day.I headed first for Westminster Abbey which I liked, but found a bit busy after the simplicity of some other cathedrals.Still, the poets (Jenny Lind included) and musicians memorials were impressive -- what a list of names.(To be topped -- for me -- later in the day.) Then I slipped down and had a good view for the changing of the horse guards at Whitehall.It's amazing to see them ride off through the taxis and cars afterward.Lunch was early at The Cheshire Cheese which is sadly overpriced, but otherwise pleasant.†† Then I hiked straight to St.Paul's which I didn't like.Julie and Keith in Lincoln had commented that they expected to see Queen Victoria and Prince Albert pop out and that's just my feeling.Wrong period I know, but it's just fussy and proper.The best part was my climb all the way to the top.I'll regret it tomorrow but I went all the way up to the lantern.

 

My stroll back took me to the Savoy Chapel (hello Katherine) and the Temple Church.I'm tired of sightseeing now so no impression was made.For a lift of spirits, I went to Covent Garden and got exactly what I needed -- tea and St.Paul's Church.I hope to get back tomorrow.Where else could you find memorials to: Ellen Terry, Vivien Leigh, Robert Shaw, Cyril Beaumont, Tamara Karsavina, David Blair, Lillian Baylis and those are just the names I know and remember.Now that's special to me.†† The Royal Ballet was a mixed bag.Covent Garden is homey for an opera house.The program included: Enigma Variations -- good but an evening-opener type: Gloria -- Very well received but one of the ugliest dances I've ever seen - - decor and movement; Rhapsody - - made for Baryshnikov.Wall to replace, but he was injured.Poor understudy, valiant, but not yet up to it.So it wasn't the best ever, but I wouldn't have traded the evening for (almost) anything.

 

 

October 24

 

A few names I missed at St.Paul's the first time: Noel Coward, Sir Charles Chaplin, Sybil Thorndike, Ivor Novello, Sophie Fedorovitch, Magaret Rutherford.Boris Karloff (William Henry Pratt), Stanislas Idzikowski.Obviously I slipped back to breathe in a bit more of CoventGarden.†† Then I met Eileen and her office-mate Christine Wills for Mass (Me!) and lunch at the English Speaking union.Afterwards I ran over to the zoo to see the pandas Ching-Ching and Chia- Chia.I hardly spent any time there at all but saw what was important and I had a lovely long walk through Regents park.I had hoped to treat myself to tea at the Ritz, but it was too crowded and stuffy so I settled for a stop at the Mayfair.I'm glad I did too because Eileen dragged me off bag and baggage on a mad race for the train(s).I lost track of how many changes she has to make -- 3 or4 -- it would drive me batty.Mrs.Daisy) Hellicar had made dinner and it was very pleasant, but it took me a while to feel comfortable with her parents.(Note: their anniversary is Sept 22, 1922.)

 

Eileen and I then gabbed our way well towards midnight.She told me and then showed me pictures of her great-grandmother who was a dancer (pantomime) named Georgie Wright.(Mrs.Charles Howard) Her husband was a music hall performer, Charlie Williams.They were disowned for going on the stage; other wise he would have been in line to become Duke of Norfolk.Georgie Wright played "Flirt" in a show called " A Trip to Chinatown" at O'Toole's Theatre on the Strand in 1894.Her name was put up in lights outside the theatre.That was the first time that had EVER been done in the English theatre.I was flabbergasted and thrilled and I'm sure Eileen could tell how excited I was.†† More family Tree: Eileen's grandmother (Georgie's daughter, Georgina Howard Moore) was immortalized in a music hall song -- "Don't have anymore Mrs.Moore or you'll take to take the flat next door" -- after the birth of her 7th child.One daughter wasDaisy, Eileen's mother.The song had been written by her brother (in law?) Artie LeClerq who was a songwriter of some note.Also in that generation came a comedian Fred McNaughton who performed in the first ever Royal Command variety show -- 1912.Pavlova was there too.He, I believe, was theoriginator (he gave the line to his partner) of the "Can you here me mother?" line.Well, I was dazzled, that's clear.Eileen tucked.me into bed with: 1 footwarmer, 1 teddy.1bunny, 1 radio,and lots of love.WOW .

 

 

October 25

 

We hit Mass again this morning -- Eileen's doing a novena -- then did the shopping indowntown Mitchum.It's all very, on, working class; certainly not poor but very shabby andtight.†† After lunch we trained out to Hampton Court.and did a proper tour.Then It was home for (too) many drinks and dinner.I hit it off by now with the senior Hellicars so it; was a fun meal.ThenEileen and I were at it again.She let me try on old Georgie's domino mask and see some of her clothes.Then she gave me a crocheted lace collar that Georgie herself had made.I'm thrilled out of my skin.

 

 

October 26

 

Suffered for my overindulgence -- had to get up and throw up dinner and drinks.Of course, thenI felt much better and was able to sleep and rise for Mass.I simply hate to leave.

 
     
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