A Day in London

| October 28, 2012 | 0 Comments

I travelled to Europe yesterday for a series of presentations on the presidential election. I’ll be keeping an online diary over the next week for my stops in London, Brussels and Amsterdam.

The Flight

The flight to London was unevental except for a major scare at the outset that had nothing to do with flying. My laptop, on which resides the final version of my presentation, crashed and began issuing me scrary messaages. The last time this happened, a week ago, it took me 2 days to get my data back. If I’ve lost the presentation, life is going to be very difficult when I land. So, I stashed the laptop away and prayed. Fortunately, the problem seemed to go away when I logged back in at my hotel. I immediately saved the presentation in a Lockbox folder. Whew.

The Hotel

I’m staying at the Radisson Blu in Covent Gardens. Each of the 3 or 4 times I’ve come to London, I’ve stayed in Covent Gardens. It is one of my favorite places in the world, waling distance to the West End for plays, Trafalgar Square for iconic London and St. Martin in the Fields, my single favorite stop in the city. I have not stayed in a Radisson in probably 15 years since a horrific night in Binghampton, NY, when the fire alarm went off 3 times over the course of the night. My son, Danny, who was 7 at the time, was traumatized. We vowed never to stay in a Radisson again.

But, I figured that commitment should not cross the Atlantic and the addition of the word “Blu” suggested something more upscale. Sure enough, at 1:15 am, the fire alarm went off in my room. It only lasted for a bit. I woke up, noted the irony, and tried to go back to sleep. Then it went off again….and again….and again. I called the desk and they apologized, saying there was nothing amiss and they were trying to fix the problem. It only went off a few more times, but the point was made.

A Football Rally in Trafalgar Square

Usually, when you’re in Europe and you’re talking about football, you’re really talking about soccer. Not this time. There was a full blown “NFL Fan Rally” in Trafalgar Square celebrating the game between the New England Patriots (my team) and the St. Louis Cardinals (my company’s team) that would be held the next day. There was a huge crowd, a long line to get in, a big stage and a massive video screen.

Yes, Prime Minister

One of my all time favorite BBC programs is Yes, Minister/Yes Prime Minister. It is a high brow comedy that explores the inner workings of the British government at the highest levels. The most memorable character is Sir Humphrey, who is the epitome of the career civil servant who sees himself as the true guardian of good government, notwithstanding the desires of elected representatives and the “will of the people.” He is the quintessential elitist. Every episode concludes with Sir Humphrey uttering the words, “Yes, Prime Minister,” sometimes in sorry, sometimes dripping with sarcasm, but never with respect.

I went to the stage play based on the TV show with modest expectations and, frankly, those expectations were realized. It was fine. No one would be able to match Nigel Hawthorne’s Sir Humphrey and the stage actor did not. Hawthorne’s Sir Humphrey alternated between supercilious, patronizing elitism at the ignorance of everyone he came into contact with and panic at any prospect of losing the perks and privilege that came with his high station in life.  The stage version had the elitism down pat, but didn’t convey the panic, as well.

And the character of the Prime Minister was a totally different type than the one in the TV show. The TV Prime Minister was insecure and feckless. The stage version was a roly poly comedian, who was good, but very different from the original who I couldn’t get out of my mind.

A Candlelight Baroque Music Festival

Moving from the ridiculous to the sublime, I concluded my day in London with a concert at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields on Trafalgar Square.  While I had evening tickets for Yes, Prime Minister, I changed them to the matinee when I learned of the concert during my pilgrimmage to the Church.  I’ve visited every time I’ve been in London and it never disappoints.  .

The concert was called A Candlelight Baroque Festival and it was mangificent.   I surreptiously videotaped part of it and the two-minute clip below contains some excerpts.  Pay particularly attention to the movements of the artists, both the conductor and the violinists.  You could tell that they were feeling it.

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Category: Europe, Travel

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