PG London Tour Day 1 -- arriving

Wednesday, 07 March 2012 03:31 AM Written by 

PG London Tour – arriving -- Day 1

Does traveling count as a day? It sure gets harder as I get older. This time (Year Umpteen of suffering from cruel and unusual abandonment by USAir), the indefatigable Gulliver’s Travels had booked Continental through Newark, but just a day before departure, United finished swallowing up Continental, so it was a hybrid flight.

But lo and behold, the Newark-Heathrow flight was as comfortable as I can remember in a zillion London trips (except for a couple of memorable times I got mistakenly bumped up to first class).

I especially like it when they hand out London papers en route. As I’ve written before, the four or five good papers in London are very good and somewhat addictive. I could spend the whole morning with them in the hotel breakfast room if there weren’t a fabulous city out there. En route, I know better than getting ensnared by a movie – you should whip out the eyeshades and sleep – but the papers are a distraction.

Once at our hotel Monday morning, I headed right out to cash travelers checks (which took some negotiation) in order to buy 24 London bus and tube Travel Cards (which took some fast talking and a trip to another station). You always want to buy these cards in London, where they’re cheaper, but there’s always some new rule to  overcome.

Then some of us headed out for a walk. It’s cold here – 40F, I’d say. But improbably, it’s also dry, there’s sun, and after all, it’s London, so who cares about the cold? As usual this time of year, the daffodils and magnolias are out: “in earliest and chary spring the dogwood flowers,” I think goes the poem by that Broadway librettist.

We went down Monmouth St./St. Martins (I’ve never seen the two “St” abbreviations conjoined like that) to check on our reservation for tomorrow at Brown’s brasserie. Bought some A-Zeds, as they call them, and headed back up Charing Cross. Some split off to eat and some to check the half-price ticket booth in Leicester Square, which I hear is all torn up with pre-Olympics construction. Then across Long Acre to Bow/Endell streets and back to the hotel for a much-needed brief nap.

My Monday night show was “Traveling Light” at the NT, which fits right in with “Hugo” and “The Artist” in this year’s impromptu seminar in the early days of movies. This one is about nothing less than the (mainly fictional, surely) invention of early movie technique in a Polish shtetl, from getting people to move for the camera, to editing, to creating a fictional story, to the conflict between producer and director to getting the ingénue pregnant. I’ll say more when I review all 8 or 9 shows on the trip.

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