Friday, July 27, 2007

My First Gentlemen's Club

Two at a time number two!
Wednesday: Oh boy all day field trip. We were up and on the bus by 8:30, then on our way out to the Red House in Kent. A long drive later we arrived at Danson House, a beautifully preserved estate home on over 200 acres of park land. Honestly, these people did well. Danson was just a stop for fun because we couldn't all fit into Red House at the same time - my group went to Danson first (Danson Fools), and had to do a quick jaunt through the house and gardens in order to make our Red House appointment. It was tricky to get away though: the volunteer tour leaders in the house were very cute and slightly aged and very eager to make sure we knew everything, repeating some things several times when they deemed it neccessary. We made our escape and trekked to Red House, the widely recognized paragon of ur-modern architecture. Our guide here was equally sweet and thorough but somehow totally mindnumbing. The house was pretty interesting and featured neat things like guests' signatures etched on the front hall windows. Neato. We rushed back to the bus and started the drive to Scotney Castle. Flying along through the thick, green green forests of southern England was totally exhilerating. We arrived at Scotney and toured their pristine picturesque gardens straight out of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia. There is nothing more beautiful than acres and acres of surprise vistas of ruins and secret passageways through overgrown stone archways and hollows that open on one side to a lily pad covered pond. I might have to try for something similar when I begin to garden. We reboarded the bus and drove back to London. Then... it was Paul's 21st birthday. A few of us went out to a very lovely French restaurant somewhere in Sloane Square and had soup and ravioli, both topped with a suspicious but ultimately delicious rainbowy foam. Then we needed an after activity, and as we walked along through Sloane Square found ourselves outside a club called Mamilangi's. Apparently it's very posh and very members only, but Lola, Paul's London friend, inquired and got us in. It was sort of ridiculous - a good DJ and single man with a saxophone on a dais provided the music, and there were a lot of well dressed folks about. I felt slightly awkward, especially when dancing with a gentleman named "Benjy" who had long hair and rather unfocused eyes. I'm not sure that he wasn't on anything. We danced for quite a while (NOT with Benjy though), then skedaddled to a double decker for the ride home. We accidentally rode rather too far, then had to walk back quite a ways in the near-dawn to Hughes Parry. Arrived home around 4 AM in order to tuck in for a solid five hours of sleep. Mmmmmmm. Happy Birthday Paul.

Thursday: Woke up, put on a mandated skirt, and met at the Paul Mellon Centre for our tour of the very exclusive and very gentlemen-only Garrick Club. The club is very old and very male and very private, so it was pretty neat that we meek females were admitted for a tour. Seriously women are not allowed to be members, even though they are all over the walls and on pedestals - I couldn't believe such places existed. But apparently they do. They didn't let the Queen Mother into one of the rooms we were in last time she was there. Sheesh. I'm working on it. The collection curator showed us around, and did a really lovely job: the Garrick Club has one of the most incredible and extensive and uncatalogued portrait/drama collections in the world. For example, they have every playbill from every play in Covent Garden from 1700ish on. WHAT. Also, prompt books from Henry Irving's Covent Garden Hamlet - one can see "ghost music plays" and various notes on blocking scribbled at the top of one page. One could recreate a play just as it was two hundred+ years ago. It was just so cool, I was shaking. Too bad the womens aren't allowed. They're gonna regret that someday. After Garrick Club, we stopped at Pret for lunch, then meandered home and napped through some miserable weather. We then took the underground and a bus to the Arcola Theatre north of London. It was by far the farthest we'd been from the city, right in the heart of a thriving Turkish community. The play was Torn, a reworking of Romeo and Juliet based on the divide between black British folk from Africa versus black British folk from the Caribbean. The first act was really great, but the second act was long and self-indulgent and cliched. But it was a great early work for the playwright, who was also the lead actor and did a really nice job. We took a bus back to Hughes Parry, and I began writing my review on Betrayal. Then ate some cheese (!) and promptly fell asleep.

1 comment:

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