Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lloyds of London is a Coffee Shop

Woke up late after going to bed late and rushed over to the Paul Mellon Centre to meet the group for our trip to Lloyds of London. We arrived and were issued visitor’s passes, then followed an adorable, eloquent, older Lloyds representative to an antique room that was the library in the 1920’s Lloyds building and was preserved to serve as a conference room in the new building. Then to the elevators: the elevators run up the outsides of the building and are glass, such that depending on the elevator bank one chooses, one gets a different panoramic view of the city. How incredibly neat, especially when other elevators full of business folk rush up or down in the opposite direction. Then to a tour of the underwriting galleries, where hundreds of different insurance companies and literally thousands of brokers were doing business. Lloyds itself “insures nothing.” According to our guide, Lloyds is still a coffee shop (it started when one wily coffee shop owner, Robert Lloyd, added a business annex to house all the insurance men that had begun to do business in his shop). Lloyds merely manages and regulates, renting space to underwriting companies at 550 pounds per square foot. It’s all a bit complicated, just like the building.

Lunch happened in the cafeteria, where we ate delicious a la carte food surrounded by posh business types. Some of us decided we would jump out a window if we had their jobs, but it sure was fun to be amongst them. As we left Lloyds, Professor Isenstadt offered to show us some buildings around the area. He was a terrific architectural tour guide, and we looked at the British Bank, One Poultry Place, two interesting but different churches, and several design details that would otherwise have remained invisible to me. Jenny, Cassie and I took a bus back to Tottenham Court Road and walked to Hughes Parry, where we rested up for our second theatrical encounter, Kean, starring Sir Antony Sher at the Apollo Theatre. Cassie and I walked (briskly) to the theatre, and arrived to find that our seats had been moved into the orchestra as the show was far from sold out. And perhaps with reason: though Sir Sher was great in moments, I was unmoved at the end and couldn’t really make heads or tails out of the whole production. It proved excellent fodder for conversation later in the evening, as a few of us headed to pubs (The Queen’s Larder and one other) and then meandered back to Hughes Parry for more discussion. Late discussion, so Ima go to bed – tomorrow will hold research for our Glasgow trip, some fun activity near the Thames, a director’s talk for St. Joan at The National, and then… ?!

No comments: