Archives For London

IMG_3247

I’m getting a ride to the Stratford rail station by one of the guys from Enterprise Rent-a-Car. He’s telling me his story. Went to a nice school on a rugby scholarship. Served in the British army, trained special forces in the U.S. for a time. Had to leave service when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and now he’s in the Enterprise management program. We’re talking about the London theatre scene. “The West End. That’s my thing,” he says. “Have you seen Billy Elliot?”

He’s a nice guy, and I appreciate the lift to the station. He recommends walking down the road to a supermarket to buy my lunch. Cheaper than anything I get on the train. We don’t mention the impending Brexit vote. No one does. It’s strangely absent from conversations and the London streets. 

I suppose it’s time to talk about Randy.

I’m in London to see Belle & Sebastian play the Royal Albert Hall. In honor of their 20th anniversary, they’re playing their first two albums (both released in 1996) on successive nights. Tigermilk tonight, If You’re Feeling Sinister tomorrow. I have tickets for both shows, purchased almost a year ago at 3 in the morning.

I am here because of Randy.

I had a blue cassette tape that I used to play in a small white car I have long since sold. Randy gave it to me one summer, a long time ago. A new band he discovered and thought I might like. “Tigermilk”, the cassette’s label reads.

I was surprised, I was happy for a day in 1975

I was puzzled by a dream that stayed with me all day in 1995

The opening lines of “The State I Am In” introduces me to the songwriting and voice of Stuart Murdoch and his Glasgow band Belle & Sebastian. I am in love.

To detail what this band has meant to me over the past (almost) twenty years would take far too long and would get way too personal. They often get pegged as overly-precious, something shy art school girls listen to while writing in their journals and clutching their favorite childhood stuffed animal.

Do I have an aspect of my personality that is shy and artsy and feminine and writes overly-sensitive entries in fancy journals while my favorite childhood stuffed animal looks on? Umm. Maybe. I’ll wear it proudly. They have been my favorite band for a long, long time, and I have shared them with many important people in my life. I have danced on stage during “Judy and the Dream of Horses” and I have skipped a show due to a mild panic attack during a rough spot in my life.

Randy was my best friend for a long time, until he wasn’t anymore. The rough spot had its consequences. I wasn’t listening. But I learned, the hard way, and I moved into a better place in my life. You had to earn your friendship with Randy, and you had to work to keep it. But the times we spent together were good times, and I loved him dearly. He had a profound impact on my life, and ultimately, he made me a better person.

I ran into him shortly after I moved into my current home, riding his bike. We said hello and caught up a bit. He was back living nearby. I wanted to apologize to him, find a way to make things right and start again, but I figured I would see him again and I would have the chance to make things right.

IMG_3253

The band walks onto the stage and those opening lines from “The State I’m In” fill the Royal Albert Hall, this amazing, iconic English place, where Bob Dylan played at the end of Don’t Look Back, “the vanishing American,” shaking, joking with Bobby Neuwirth, “give the anarchist a cigarette!” Transformed.

A year or so ago I was sitting at home on a Saturday night, watching a film. A cold February night. I heard an ambulance go by and looked out the window, wondering if it was headed to my neighbor’s house again. It wasn’t.

Mike called me the next morning. Randy had a heart attack and died last night. He was gone, and there would never be a chance for apologies and buried hatchets. The sirens I heard last night were for him.

I once gave him a poster of the Tigermilk album cover, from a set I had ordered from the band’s website. He still had it in his apartment. It’s now on my wall.

The band has played the entirety of Tigermilk and the final verses of “Mary Jo” are wrapping up. It’s never been one of my favorites. (The flute at the beginning is unfortunate evidence of that preciousness I mentioned earlier.) But it works as a closing song amazingly well, wrapping up the journey the shy and damaged characters have taken through the album.

 

Mary Jo, you’re looking thin
You’re reading a book, “The State I Am In”
But oh, it doesn’t help at all

Something hits me. The tears are starting to roll down my face as it all becomes a bit overwhelming and the last fifteen, twenty, twenty-five years of my life collapse and collide and I wonder if I’ve learned anything from my life, all my highs and lows, my successes and my disasters. You think you’re fine, but there it is again.

Because life is never dull in your dreams
A pity that it never seems to work the way you see it
Life is never dull in your dreams
A sorry tale of action and the men you left for
Women, and the men you left for
Intrigue, and the men you left for dead

IMG_3254

The show continues and I am dancing to “The Boy with the Arab Strap.” I am happy. for a day at least.

You can’t outwit depression. It never really goes away. Fear and anxiety and sadness and the loneliness and this plague I carry in my head. I want it to stop I want it to stop I want it to stop. I want to be transformed, like Dylan in the movies, don’t look back as I cut through the park, walking briskly on Carriage Drive as the rain starts to fall on my way back to the hotel. I want it all to stop.

It’s someone else’s turn to go through Hell
Now you can see them come from twenty yards
Yeah you can tell
It’s someone else’s turn to take a fall
And now you are the one who’s strong enough to help them
The one who’s strong enough to help them
The one who’s strong enough to help them all

 

Advertisements

vivien_leigh_shakespeare

For me, the greatness of Britain isn’t defined by family ancestry, its political history or imperial might, as fascinating and checkered as that topic can be. Rather, it is Britain’s cultural contributions that continue to entertain and inspire me. The Beatles and Belle & Sebastian, the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and of course, Mr. William Shakespeare.

It is 2016, and that means that William Shakespeare has been dead for exactly 400 years.

It is my second night in England, and I am watching a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. A Play for the Nation.

I listen to the lines of the play roll out from the actors’ mouths. I recognize Peter Hamilton Dyer’s voice even before I see his face. “Full of vexation come I, with complaint against my child, my daughter Hermia.” I am pulled back suddenly to the Globe, in London, and it is 2002 and Dyer stands at the edge of the stage, as the Fool, Feste, verbally sparring with Mark Rylance as Olivia in Twelfth Night. It is a warm summer’s night and I am on my first solo trip to Britain.

“How now, spirit? Whither wander you?”

Puck enters. The words continue to ring out, familiar and comforting, this most familiar of plays.

We are backstage in a bombed-out theatre, apparently sometime in the 40s, during the war. The fairies resemble child evacuees, sweater vests and brown leather shoes. Titania and Oberon otherworldly and exotic, India and Africa, reminders of Britain’s colonial empire.

Northern_Stage_production_photos_March_2016._A_Midsummer_Night_s_Dream_A_Play_for_the_Nation._2016_Photo_by_Topher_McGrillis_c_RSC_186692 (1)

The Mechanicals scatter. The Lovers battle.

Nick Bottom dreams.

It is 2003 and I am directing my first show by Shakespeare. Titania and Oberon spar over a child. The Mechanicals rehearse. The Lovers wed.

Bottom dreams.

Midsummer 2

It is 2012 and I am again in the wood, with the fairies and the lovers and the actors. “It seems to me that yet we sleep, we dream.” It is 2014 and I am back at the Globe, saying hello to one of my British heroes, Mark Rylance. It is 2011 and I am directing Feste and Olivia and I am saying goodbye to the only family I created.

It is 2016 and I am in London at the British Library, walking through ten acts of Shakespeare. Vivian Leigh stands imperious and commanding as Titania. Peter Brook strips everything away but the truth and tells his Midsummer in a white box. In the next room I stare at Rylance’s original costume for Olivia.

It is 2016 and I am again at the Globe, watching another performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this play for the nation, England or Britain, a no-longer united kingdom that today has voted to leave the European Union and bring about its eventual destruction.

7-A-Midsummer-Nights-Dream-Shakespeares-Globe

Shakespeare has been dead for 400 years, and yet his life and his work lives and breathes everywhere I look. His words transport me through my own life, across stages and classrooms and cast parties. He reminds me over and over again about the importance of art and dreams and stories, and the responsibility I have, with my own small talents, to keep telling those stories to new audiences. He reminds me to give dreams to people.

“I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.”

Bottom wakes.

It is 2016. I am behind the wheel of a brand-new BMW 3 Series. I am driving on the left. I am terrified and I am exhilarated all at once.

I am heading north.

 

A few stories more from London, told mostly in pictures…

2014-06-20 11.41.29-1

The Sutton Hoo helmet, from an Anglo-Saxon grave. Circa 600 AD.

I went back to the British Museum for the first time in over thirteen years. I was there for a big Vikings exhibit, and they had a new wing open devoted to the Anglo-Saxon era. Between that and the other sections on British history, I kept thinking, “Why haven’t I been in this area until now?” I guess when you go to the British Museum for the first time, you tend to stick with the Rosetta Stone and the Greek Parthenon sculptures.

I also tried to get into the reading room, but they don’t have it open anymore for just anyone to visit, and… (wait for it) …theyTOOK OUT ALL THE BOOKS. I guess they’re at the British Library now. Disappointing, because the room was pretty spectacular. Here’s what it looked like in its glory days:

138626-004-0107E71F

Something I always try to visit, when in London, is the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens. If my memory is correct, it’s the very first thing we visited when I first came here in 2001. The pictures I have are from a cheap 35mm camera, and the light is terrible, thanks to a lovely overcast March day. This one came out a bit better, I think.

2014-06-21 11.50.15 HDR

J.M. Barrie commissioned the statue, and had it erected in the middle of the night, so that it would seem as if it appeared “by magic.” He was disappointed, though, that the sculptor hadn’t caught enough of Peter’s devilish nature.

2014-06-21 12.30.43

This just seems like it shouldn’t exist, right? I guess he’s pretty decent in it, based on the reviews, but Martin Freeman will always be Tim Canterbury to me. Or maybe Bilbo, if they’d let him actually be the main character in his films.

The last set of photos are from the walk home from the Globe. It didn’t dawn on me at the time, but it was officially Midsummer, the longest day of the year. These photos were taken sometime after 9 PM, twilight slowly settling in across the Thames.

2014-06-21 21.19.18 HDR

2014-06-21 21.22.17 HDR

All I kept thinking about, while crossing the river and walking towards St. Paul’s, was how perfect the night felt. I got on the Circle line at Blackfriars and meant to head back to my hotel near Paddington Station, but quickly got off at Westminster. I just wasn’t done with the night, and walked along Westminster Bridge for a bit, sharing the moment of the summer solstice with fellow tourists. Italian men and Japanese teenagers and women in hijabs posed in front of Big Ben (technically, the Elizabeth Tower), took pictures of the London Eye, and everyone seemed happy to be where they were. And all the problems of the world were forgotten, at least for a moment or two.

2014-06-21 21.46.51 HDR

2014-06-21 21.47.57 HDR

 

What’s that Jane Austen line? “Nobody is healthy in London, no one can be.” That was the early 19th century, but even today your snot turns black after a while, or least I’ve been told. I have a strange relationship with the city…sometimes I’m just overwhelmed by the crowds and the smells and the prices, and I can’t wait to leave for somewhere quieter and greener. “Melancholy London,” William Butler Yeats called it. And sometimes….man. London can just bowl you over with everything it has, all that history, all those iconic places and stories and characters, and all that…majesty, for lack of a better word.

Here’s hoping my second visit to London this summer, and my…sixth overall, I think?, goes as well as it did last month. Things are finally starting to wrap up over here, and I’ll be home two weeks from today. This weekend I’m off to the Galway Arts Fest, and then one more time on the ferry and the train and the Tube, one more time with the pack on my back and the wander and the wonder.

I mentioned in my last post (Part One of this trip to London) that I was over to do some “independent study” of theatre. That’s quite true. Since I don’t see myself coming up with the cash and time off work to finish the degree I was working on in 2012, the next best thing is to continue my studies on my own. And since all that was really left was the massive research paper, which I didn’t want to write anyway, I’d say traveling around and going to actual shows is the next best thing.*

So aside from living the quiet life in Terenure, I’m also here to see a massive amount of theatre. Here are three I saw in June, along with a few brief thoughts of my own.

The Drowned Man, by Punchdrunk Theatre

Fernanda-Prata-Jesse-Kovarsky.-Punchdrunk.-The-Drowned-Man-A-Hollywood-Fable.-Photo-Birgit-Ralf-0399

This was the show I was most excited to see, and the one I was most disappointed with. Punchdrunk stages their shows in massive spaces like old hotels and abandoned warehouses, and transforms them into interactive worlds where the audience and performers share the same space. All audience members are masked at the start and then set loose to wander through multiple floors of an imagined Hollywood film studio in the mid-20th Century. Few words are spoken, and most of the action is done via dance and mime. You are encouraged to wander freely through the space, creating your own version of the show, which will be different than everyone else’s version. Some audience members attend multiple stagings, searching for new scenes and clues, dissecting everything on Tumblr, desperately trying to figure out what it all means.

But, as many a rabid fan of shows like Lost or Twin Peaks (which The Drowned Man owes a lot to) can admit to, obsessing about the forest oftentimes means missing out on the trees right in front of you. I had no idea what the show was supposed to be about**, and instead just enjoyed the intricate set design, the expert choreography, and the overall spooky mood of the show. There’s something interesting about the audience members wearing masks, and how the anonymity allows you to, in a sense, become part of the show. My own movements became a bit more smooth and sinister as I moved from room to room, stumbling upon a scene in media res, or surprising a couple of audience members rifling through desk drawers, searching for those ever-elusive clues.

4215-thecastofthedrownedmanahollywoodfablepunchdrunkphotobirgitralf0454

In the end, though, a little of that type of show goes a long way. After a while you want some Story to suddenly step in amidst all the artful clutter and creepy straw men. The same basic conflict was repeated over and over again, and I grew bored watching couples flirt, fight, and murder each other.

King Lear at The National Theatre. Written by William Shakespeare, directed by Sam Mendes

10168041_10152083706023857_2489530109083199984_n-1

Now this was more like it.

There’s a reason these 400-year old plays by Shakespeare are still being performed in the West End, on Broadway, in parks and schools and studied in classrooms around the world: the man knew how to write a good story.

Lear was directed by Sam Mendes. You might know him as the guy who directed American Beauty, and Skyfall, but he’s got a rather extensive theatre background as well. This was at the National Theatre, the one with the statue of Laurence Olivier out front, so you walk in with certain…expectations. And boy were they met. I’m fairly new to Lear, having never been assigned it in school or seen it performed live before, or even on film. The closest I came was my old gig as Colin Firth’s stand-in for A Thousand Acres, a forgotten film based on Jane Smiley’s novel (which is based on Lear the stage play) about a farmer who divides up his land amongst his three daughters.

In the original, though, Lear is an English king who divides up his kingdom amongst his three daughters, and then everything falls apart. Lear quickly succumbs to dementia and madness, is cast out, and by the end of the play most everyone is dead. Typical Shakespearean tragedy.

There’s lots I could say about the show, but I figure most of my readers started to fast-forward once I busted out the phrase “in media res”, so i’ll wrap this up and just say I thought it was great, and Simon Russell Beale, as Lear, was heartbreaking. As someone who has seen a grandparent suffer and die from Alzheimer’s, I can say very truthfully that he got it. 

RESIZeSimon Russell Beale Adrian Scarborough  Mark Douet

Julius Caesar at Shakespeare’s Globe, Written by William Shakespeare, Directed by Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director of The Globe.

Later that night Kevin and I attended the third show we had booked, a Renaissance-staged production of Julius Caesar at the reconstructed Globe Theatre. I could probably write an entire post just on The Globe, and maybe I will someday, because I need to give a proper telling to the brief hello I was able to give Mark Rylance that night. Chills and butterflies, people.

Anyway, what the Globe does best is show how well Shakespeare’s plays work when presented in their original setting. There are no lighting tricks, no real scenery to speak of, just a bare stage where the actors make the words come to life. It’s all you need with him. Story is everything.

Not much needs to be said about this one. Most people know the plot, and I’ve directed it in the past, so part of the fun was seeing how the pros do it, compared to my own (former) youthful company of players. We didn’t have actual seats, but went the cheap route and bought groundlings tickets and stood stock-still the entire time. The air gets rather close inside that wooden O, and a few people had to leave because they were about to faint. One guy fell right to the ground right next to me, but that might have been because of the “blood” in the play.

to-WET-5

 

2014-06-21 21.02.03 HDR

There’s Kevin! Actual proof that he and I were in London together.

2014-06-21 21.01.35 HDR

I have more to say about this remarkable place, and more about the London trip in general, so I’ll write more tomorrow. I’m heading back to London next week to see three more shows, including Antony and Cleopatra back at The Globe.

This time I’m sitting down, though.

 

*I bring this topic up, partly because I wonder how many people look at my time over here in 2012 as a sort-of failure. “Ah, he ran out of money and didn’t finish the degree. Poor, poor Brian.” It’s hard to control the narrative of your life, but I’ll tell you, it was the smartest move I could have made. I avoided a LOT in student loans and got the credits I needed for a theatre endorsement (which is all I really wanted or needed.) I had a lot of pining away for more time over here, though, and that’s why this summer has been so enjoyable. I’m filling up the cup nicely.

**I mean…I do, but I won’t bore you with all of my theoretical thoughts on a show no one else saw.

 

Sail and Rail to London

July 22, 2014 — 1 Comment

It has been, by most accounts, a most unusual summer for Ireland. The sun comes out most days, the temperature sits comfortably in the high 60s/low 70s, and rain has been fairly absent since I arrived in early June. This is not normal. When I moved over here two years ago, Dublin had just experienced two months of nothing but rain, and everyone had this angry, resigned look about them when talk of the weather would come up, victims of a cruel mother nature that just wouldn’t relent.

So this has been a good summer to be here, to spend some time doing Nothing for a while. A good summer for walks, for hanging the laundry on the line, a good summer for letting a cool breeze float through the living room while I work through a pile of books.

2014-06-18 13.49.28

Summer in Dublin: St. Stephen’s Green at midday.

I’m also here to continue my own independent study in the world of theatre, so I headed to London last month to meet up with an old Limelighter of mine named Kevin, to see some shows and indulge our mutual anglophilia. (Kevin’s the real Anglophile, but I have to split mine with an equal love for most-things-Irish, which can make for an interesting and sometimes conflicting set of interests.)

While it would have been faster to fly into London, you can get a cheap Sail and Rail ticket and spend the day crossing the Irish Sea and riding a train into Euston Station, which was my plan. And it was all going well until there was a derailment (not on my train) and left many of us stranded in Crewe for a while. While we waited for news, many passengers wandered around the station in confusion, wondering when the trains would resume service, or if we’d get to London at all that night. I checked for updates on Twitter, and the National Rail app on my phone told me that there were several trains still scheduled for London that night. We’d be fine.

After an hour’s wait and a horrible sandwich from a W.H. Smith, a train bound for London was announced for Platform 12, arriving in a matter of minutes. Everyone gathered wheeled suitcases and oversized backpacks and rushed up the steps, across the walkway over the tracks, and back down the steps to Platform 12, and waited for the train to come.

Suddenly there was another announcement about the train for London arriving on Platform 5, and almost everyone panicked and headed back up the stairs and across to the platforms on the other side of the tracks. Almost everyone. Myself and a couple of others realized there were two trains coming in almost back-to-back on account of the delay. While everyone else crammed into the compartments of the train on Platform 5, we waited patiently until the next train arrived. The the three of us boarded the train via the first class compartment and one guy asked the train manager if it was okay for us to sit there. “If you’ve got a first class ticket you can!” he said back, chuckling. We looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. Hey, we tried.

We walked to the end of the compartment and were about to head to the next one when the manager whistled and said, “Go ahead. You can stay.”

So that’s how we finished the trip to London. Three guys sitting in first class, enjoying free drinks and sandwiches as the sun went down, occasionally giving each other a grin and a little nod. Sometimes it pays to be patient, folks.


2014-06-19 20.41.49-2

I figure that’s enough for this post. I’ll get to London and the shows in a bit. (Part Two of this story can be found here.)

Small Towns

December 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

2012-12-15 11.19.37

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson

I would slightly disagree with that quote.

I love visiting London, but after a few days I’m always ready to leave for somewhere quieter. It’s crowded and moves at an incredible pace and everywhere you turn there’s something new and brilliant and suddenly there’s St. Paul’s cathedral, which means the Globe and the Tate Modern is just across the Thames, the Thames, and London Bridge is falling down, falling down, but after a while you just want something a bit different. At least I do.

I’ve been trying to stuff myself full of the great cities of Europe this past week or so, not really knowing when I’ll be doing something like this again. I love traveling, and I still enjoy traveling solo, but time and again I know in my heart that I’m growing tired of wandering by myself. I should be sharing this with someone.

And after 10 days of Prague, Munich, Strasbourg, Paris, and London, I wanted somewhere quiet and different than the bustle of major metropolitan areas. And I knew there was just something I had to do, while I was here.

I had to go to Sandwich.

I’m from Sandwich, Illinois. A small town of about 6,000 people past the point where the suburbs of Chicago become the small towns. And for most of my life, I’ve heard every laugh and stupid joke you get when you mention you’re from a town that shares its name with Joey’s favorite food. (See: the greatest Friends episode ever.) We’re apparently named for a town in New Hampshire, which is named for Sandwich, England, where that Earl was too lazy to stop playing cards to eat so he just threw the meat between two slices of bread. Hence the name.

2012-12-15 17.41.27

This Sandwich is also a small town of about 6,000 people, on the southeast coast of England near where the Eurostar goes under the English Channel to take you to Paris. It’s full of dark, narrow medieval streets that are slightly spooky at night, but at the same time I feel perfectly safe and welcome here. After arriving, I sat and ate some beef stew in the Inn as the locals started filling in the place. They glanced over at me a few times and eventually struck up a conversation with me. In London they ignore you and push you back into the crowd, but I’m very happy to say that the people of Sandwich are very easygoing and make an effort to include you in their conversation.

One guy told me a story of how he got deported back to England after living in L.A. for five years; I talked to another local about his upcoming second marriage; another couple grabbed a map and showed me different pubs I should visit. After a week of fumbling my way through Czech, German, and French (and the indifference of most Londoners), it’s nice to be in a place that seems happy to have you here.

After a late night reading about the awfulness of the event in Connecticut, I awoke to sunny skies and warm temperatures in London. I checked out of my hotel and dropped off Bill the Pony (which is what I call my large suitcase I’ve been dragging along) at St. Pancras’ luggage check-in for 24 hours. I wandered around Knightsbridge, Belgravia,

and Hyde Park, then said goodbye to the UCD crew in Sloane Square. I had no desire to sit in a cramped, stuffy theatre watching one more “important” play. Too much to see and do, too many people to meet, too many streets to stroll down. Haroosh needs to see the world.

2012-12-15 17.29.07

Theatreland

December 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

IMG_0839

Over the past two days I’ve seen three shows in London, with one more tomorrow before everyone heads back to Dublin. Haven’t had much time for sightseeing, but this is my fourth time in London, so I already have a lot checked off the Must-See List. In my downtime between shows, I visit with the UCD gang a bit, but mostly I just walk and walk and walk, observing life in this sprawling and crowded city dotted with some of the most famous landmarks in the world. And it’s amazing the amount of theatre that goes on in the West End and everywhere else in the city. They’re running a remount of the incredible production of Twelfth Night I saw ten years ago, but I decided against seeing it again. Best to save the original in my memory the way it was.

Aside from the heartfelt and brilliant War Horse, which I was completely on board with, nothing has grabbed me here, really. And looking back at the dozen or so shows I saw in Dublin, it was only Farm and The Boys of Foley Street that really left an impact on me. More and more, I keep wondering if theatre has anything left to say. Most people I’m here with shrug their shoulders at what we see, or nod off, or leave early, and so much of it is pretentious and boring. It’s theatre for serious theatre-goers only, and I think that’s just a shame. I’ve always believed that art should be as accessible as possible to the average person, while still trying to be interesting and innovative. You shouldn’t have to have a deep background in Marcel Duchamp or understand post-modernist theory to enjoy something.

Now that my trip’s coming to an end, it’s been the theatre of the everyday moments that stay with me the most. Little kids saying hello to St. Nicholas on Prague’s Mikulas celebration; cafe conversations on the boulevard Saint-Michel in Paris; schoolchildren on a tour of the National Gallery in London. That’s theatre to me at this point. Theatre of the small moments of humanity that remind us how fascinating life and people and cities and towns can be.

There are other kinds of theatre as well. The grotesque picture show of the Nazi’s Theresienstadt; beggars lying prostrate on the ground in Prague, heads down and a cup in their hands, and the people passing them by; the empty nothingness of waiting for the lift at Russell Square tube station in London. The theatre of life can be both beautiful and horrifying all at once, as the news from Connecticut reminds us.

IMG_0855

On Wednesday evening as I was wandering around the city I accidentally stumbled upon the London premiere of The Hobbit. The crowds craned their necks in Leicester Square to catch a glimpse of Peter Jackson, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, and Cate Blanchett, and then to top it off I saw Prince William drive up at the end as well. Quite the unexpected journey, I have to say.

IMG_0844 IMG_0852Most of the UCD gang are young and full of energy, and stay out until all hours having a good time. They always plead with me to come out and join in on the fun, but I’m not 25 anymore, and to be honest, Thank God. I’m fine to come back to my room before midnight and read a bit before falling asleep. I turn 41 in a couple of weeks, and I’m totally okay with that. 
IMG_0857 IMG_0859

So tomorrow it’s farewell to London, and my brief relationship with the UCD crew. Haroosh and I have one more small journey to take before we head back to Dublin on Sunday, and then it’s home for good on Wednesday. There will be some very difficult goodbyes to make before then, and that will be the hardest part of all of this. But it’s time to head back and figure out what the next act has in store for me, and I’m ready for it.

IMG_0862

Mind the gap, Haroosh.