I had another glorious stay in London this past weekend, visiting with my brother who lives there.
I flew out last Friday evening. It was cloudy but the view from above the clouds was really beautiful. I could already feel the worries in life just disappear into to the background, hidden somewhere underneath the clouds.
I even had the luxury of my brother picking me up from the airport and we spent the rest of the evening catching up.
Bro had plans for Saturday during the day and I asked him how I could best get to ‘Little Venice’ from his place on my own. I had read and heard about it but in all my visits to London, I’d never been and I was curious to see the canal with those famous narrowboats. He suggested that if I didn’t mind a bit of a walk, I could walk there from his house. Regent’s Park is only a 10-15 minute walk from where he lives and from there all I needed to do was follow the canal. And so I did and what a beautiful experience it was! Even more so because the weather was cheerful and sunny that day.
I got to Regent’s Park (passing some villa’s along the way – wow!) and quickly found the path next to the canal. The route was beautiful and made even more special as an occasional narrowboat passed me by. There were also some stately houses along the canal path route, with one such house having the most immaculately mowed lawn I have ever seen in my life. As I came into a more residential area, the narrowboats were moored along the sides of the canal. I eventually got to Little Venice and found that there was a boating festival going on, the 40th IWA Canalway Cavalcade. A moored narrowboat restaurant was serving cream teas, they had a spot for one, and so I jumped at the chance to eat scones, drink tea and just have a wonderful time looking out the window at all the boats (click on images to enlarge).
I walked around after that, watched the boating parade, there was a crafts market and there was music. It was such a glorious afternoon!
At the end of the afternoon I made my way to the westend, to the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue to meet up with my brother. We were going to see the play of To Kill a Mockingbird, starring Matthew Modine.
As we made our way to find a quick bite to eat, we passed by the stage door entrance to The Gielgud, and who should we happen to see but Matthew Modine himself, who had apparently just finished a matinee and was outside talking to some audience members!
We walked on and found a place to get takeaway wok noodles (with duck and veggies for me, and beef and veggies for him) and ate them in the sunshine at a table in the garden/park of a nearby church…
At 7 pm To Kill a Mockingbird started and at the end I even snuck in a picture of the curtain call…
I was so happy to see the play and it was also unexpectedly very funny in places too. The staging was clever and the telling was nicely done from daughter Scout’s point of view. I loved that they kept her as the narrator, Dill was very funny and endearing, and Calpurnia was more vocal about the racism issues than I ever remembered her being in the book. For me the biggest twist was on the issue of empathy and “walking in someone else’s shoes” to understand them. In this play the question arose as to how far empathy should really be extended, something I never really got to that extent from the book. It was all more explicit in this play. Other aspects of the story weren’t even touched upon in the play, which was a bit of a pity but I get it, there is only so much time. The focus seemed to be mostly on the character development of Atticus, which is fine, but I missed some of Jem’s and Scout’s development. Also, Atticus felt a little different, maybe a bit less heroic than he seems in the book. To me that echoes Go Set a Watchman a bit, the follow up from Mockingbird, in which Atticus is more fallible and also shows his own prejudices. As always, food for thought, but also (sadly) this still feels very topical for the world today.
Matthew Modine was a good Atticus, although he couldn’t beat Gregory Peck in that role for me. And really, no adaptation, not even the Peck film, can beat the actual book for me. I thought Anna Mundin made a very good Scout, Ellis Howard was really noteworthy as Dill, Cecilia Noble was good as the no-nonsense Calpurnia and Jason Hughes was really good as creepy Tom Ewell. This is an adaptation of one of my fave books ever. Even though it was somewhat different, I enjoyed it and am so glad I got to see it!
Afterwards, Bro and I wandered to the stage door, and sure enough, Matthew Modine was there again. It was nowhere near as busy as the Richard Armitage stage doors that I’ve been to but there were some fans there and we watched him interact with them. A young girl, maybe 12 years old, was overwhelmed at seeing him (did he do a youth show?) and he was so sweet to her and hugged her. He handed out cards of the play that he had signed himself with a gold pen and Bro insisted I get a picture with him as well, which I did.
That Saturday in London was just such a perfect day. It was filled with such lovely surprises, from the beautiful walk, to the cream tea on a narrowboat, to the boat festival, the lovely takeaway dinner in the sun, to the play and even briefly meeting the star of the play. This one will definitely stick in my memory for a long time.