Advertisers probably could learn a trick or two from street entertainers. To attract an audience and lure some loose change into their overturned hats, these performance artists have to grab people within seconds or they’ll walk on by. This headless man, dapper dressed like a British banker, complete with a felt bowler hat, commanded a lunchtime crowd on a balmy, windy day.
What I love about London is the constant blend of old– really old- remnants of 43 AD Roman architecture and engineering- with the new– modern construction everywhere. In the arts, there’s Shakespeare, Britain’s 447 year-old megastar, and performances by new writers.
My husband enticed me to join him on a business trip by adding 4 days cycling in Sicily. I figured I could handle one day in London and one day in Rome. Having lived here for 4 ½ years, 1982-87, I know the city well. Like seeing an old friend, there’s comfort picking up where I left off, knowing what to do and where to go.
Today I rambled around the South Bank of the Thames.
Crossing London Bridge, I watched school children- they all wear uniforms here- scramble around the restored “Golden Hinde,” a full-size replica of explorer Sir Francis Drake’s 16th century ship that he circumnavigated the globe between 1577 and 1580.
As I headed toward the Tate Modern, the cavernous converted power station housing international modern art from 1900 to the present day, I saw this ruin of the 12th century Wincester Palace, a bishops’ residence used until the 17th century.
Here’s Shakespeare’s restored Globe Theatre. Built in 1599, fire destroyed the theatre in 1613; it was rebuilt a year later but closed in 1642. The present theatre, a replica of the original opened in 1997.
I had dinner with my friend Carol. Though we attended the same college, we met when I moved here. A native New Yorker, she’s lived and worked in London for 30 years. We sit down at dinner, order a bottle of wine, and talk as if we see each other weekly. There’s always news to share and deeper connections to make, cementing the friendship until the next visit.
Like London itself.