Jackie then drove us back to Morden in readiness for a visit to The Globe Theatre this evening. Sam and Holly had given me two tickets for Richard III for my birthday. Disaster then struck. I had left the lead for transferring photos from my camera to my laptop at The Firs. I therefore walked to Jessops at Colliers Wood and back, to try to purchase a new connection. They do not sell them, but sold me a Multi Card Reader. Since I have been using a card reader system at Elizabeth’s, I thought this would be fine.
Walking back through Morden at school finishing time, I was reminded that I had left rural Hampshire for the end of the Northern Line, gateway to the South, as Peter Sellers put it when chanting of Balham. I had to weave my way through milling schoolchildren, taking care to dodge their icecreams and sticky sweets; make way for mothers pushing buggies; elude shoppers with wheelie bags, endangering my sandalled feet; and avoid motorised vehicles for people with disabilities. I was back on familiar territory.
Settling down with my laptop I followed the meagre instructions which came with the reader. Nothing was happening. I could not download my pictures. I telephoned Jessops, whose representative said it sounded as if the reader was faulty, and advised me to reboot my laptop and if it still didn’t work return to the store. It didn’t, so I will return to Jessops in the morning and hope to be able to add photographs to this post.
This evening we travelled by underground to Sam Wanamaker’s gift to the world. Our mode of changing trains at Kennington is best described in Jackie’s words. As we approached a train about to leave for Waterloo she reports that I flung myself into the closing gap in the doors and left her standing on the platform. I turned, held my hand up to the window and raised one finger. This was to indicate that Waterloo was one stop away. Contemplating the amused glances of the other passengers, I felt grateful that it wasn’t two stations away.
Some twenty eight years earlier I had been taking Sam and Louisa on the underground for a trip somewhere or other. Sam was walking beside his sister in her pushchair. He trotted into the train just as the doors were closing. Having just taken Louisa out of it, I quickly shoved the puschair into the gap. The doors simply pushed the wheeled vehicle out of their way. This time it was Louisa and me left on the platform. I found a station employee. He rang down the line. Two young men on the train who had seen what had happened escorted Sam off the train at the next station. Louisa and I followed on, and left, the next train at the same station. A perfectly happy Sam, munching chocolate, was resting in the arms of a huge London Transport man. Panic over.
Walking along Blackfriars Road Jackie spotted, through a gap in the streetscape, The Shard, hailed as Western Europe’s tallest building. Sun reflected from this edifice causes the blinds to be drawn in her office on the eleventh floor of Morden’s Civic Centre. The view of the skyline we enjoyed as we walked along the Thames to the theatre can clearly be seen from that same office window.
We had a meal of meze at The Real Greek, a couple of doors away from The Globe. This was so good we wished we had had more time. Our only complaints might have been that the small tables were rather cramped together, and someone had taken a bite out of the bowl in which my excellent beetroot salad was served. Jackie drank Mythos, a Greek beer she enjoyed. I was less adventurous and sampled Kronenbourg.
The Globe is a replica of Shakespeare’s famous original. In The Bard’s day those who could afford them sat on hard wooden benches under a thatched roof. Those who couldn’t, known as groundlings, stood in the central enclosure, open to the elements. So it is today.
Neither of us knew the play and we were therefore surprised at its comic nature. The theatre was jam-packed with spectators, and we had to force our way through the groundlings to reach our bench, which was fully occupied. The play having just begun, we stood silently on the stairs until a steward approached, moved another couple out of our places, and, equally silently, ushered us in. Almost polished away by the many bums on these seats, our numbers were just discernible. This splendid production held our struggling attention until a wave of activity in the central open area, punctuated by the patter of raindrops, rendered what was happening on stage inaudible. The cast soldiered manfully on. I say ‘manfully’ because, as an authentic rendition of Shakespearean times, women’s roles were being played by men. Suddenly the activity in the pit became frenzied. The downpour drummed on the roof. The lighting illuminated vertical sheets of rain. Torrents bounced off hastily donned hoods and scarves. Shirts and blouses of those who had come unprepared became transparent second skins. Hair was plastered to scalps, and rivulets ran down necks. Some who had brought umbrellas were told to close them. A few who sat on the stairs we had vacated were instructed to leave and stand in the rain because they were blocking an emergency exit. Staff, and the occasional fortunate child, were issued with clingfilm wrappers by a young woman circulating among the rapidly diminishing throng of saturated, unsheltered, spectators. Whilst this continued the cast strutted their stuff on stage. I am sure they must be quite accustomed to such interruptions. After all, Shakespeare’s groundlings made an awful din. It will, however, be apparent from the attention I paid to all this going on in front of me that I had lost the plot. So had Jackie.
P.S. Dated 21st January 2014. Roger Lloyd-Pack, who was speaking as the Duke of Buckingham through the worst of the din, died a week ago. A splendid actor, may he rest in peace.