Monday, 10 May 2010

Don’t Forget Your Glasses, My Dear

Connor, David and I slipped down to the British Museum for the tour called “Ancient Greece” at 11:30 am. Cancelled. We had come all of the way from Canada and it was cancelled. But we had backups: 11:45 am – Ancient Iraq and 12:45 pm, -- South Asia. I saw David Pilling coming as close as he could to buying something in a gift shop, a copy of the first ancient game, a cross between Snakes and Ladders and Parcheesi. “Why not,” he said, “I am a gamer.” Before he got his wallet out he also remembered he carries student loan debt. But that was still close.

On our way home, I saw the Salvation Army Band at Oxford Square, a 29 piece brass band, uniformed just as though they had stepped out of the musical, Guys and Dolls. But they were for real. After running back from my bus stop, the boys going ahead, I stepped back against an iron wrought fence, one protecting me from the traffic on Oxford Street and I stood beside a uniformed Salvation Army man who was also on the side watching. Tourists would stop and have their pictures taken with the band playing in the background. I listened to the tune of hymns I do not know, and to Bible stories I do know: the wise man built his house upon a rock; in times of trouble which we all have, God will be there to support us. A lovely mix of both. A huge rubbish cart rolled in front of my view and stopped there, the man pulling the cart doing some street sweeping and then leisurely taking the plastic bagged garbage out of a cast iron bin and throwing it on the back of his cart. 

The big belly laugh I heard must have come out of my mouth for the navy blue uniformed Christian soldier standing beside me said, `We have been coming here at this same time for years and years, and he stops every Sunday in the same place to collect his garbage.

Soon the call was issued to all – follow us to our chapel on Oxford Street for more free music and stories, and off the band marched. My march was in a different direction, back to New Cavendish Street.

David, Connor and I had spent the morning thinking about religion in a different way. The tour of South Asia, which I thought was going to be about China, was not that at all. At least I knew enough not to correct the woman when she said that we would be looking at South Asia as in India, Pakistan, Cambodia, Lagos, Viet Name.

What was hardest on all three of us, and best for me, at least, is that the museum volunteer leading the tour explained to us that she would be using the images to help us understand the mindset of being a Hindu or a Buddhist or one of the ancient oriental offshoots, all of which lead back, in some way, to Hinduism. And this Buddha is one we saw, though they have given him a different set of feet for the originals have long gone missing.

The South East Asia tour began with 3 of us – the Pillings, me and one other about the age of the Pillings. By time the tour ended there might have been 30 of us on the tour. This has been the way on all of the tours. At every stop, people who are there on their own, looking at statues or paintings join up with us, for it is hard not to be interest in the questions that are being asked and answered. 

My favourite line from the tour guide came half way through the tour from the volunteer who looked everyone in the eye and said, those of us who are Hindus know that we are coming back to live agan when we die.` I looked around and half of the group were nodding their heads in agreement with her.

I was reminded about how religion permeates our lives again at noon today. Someone thrust a card in my hand which read, Mr. Madrib, from birth a gifted African spiritual healer and advisor. And the promised continued, No matter how difficult your problem is, there is a solution to it. Problem (sic) concerning black magic, love, voodoo, sexual impotency, business transactions, exams, court court & immigration cases. I can help you reunite with your loved ones, split unwanted relationships & gambling. For all our problems, Mr. Madiba is the answer, no disappointments. Quick results Guaranteed.

Now it will be hard to know which route to go – come back for another chance at life, or work it all out with our African friend, Mr. Madiba and have no need for a second chance on earth.

A took the introductory tour of the Victoria and Albert Museum today, and hung out in the silver museum and the wrought iron display. I took the 74 bus home for I had a paper in my purse that promised I would see Brompton Oratory, Harrods, the Marble Arch, pass the exclusive addresses of Park Lane and drive by No 99, Gloucester Place, Elizabeth Browning`s first London Home.

I should have had a perfect day, and I was close to having that perfect day – it would have been better if I I had been one of the people who had a key to get into the apartment. I was reminded of Adam Wood`s first adventure here where he couldn`t access the flat, either. I got through the first door by slipping in when someone else came out, and I got up to the fifth floor, but when I rang the door bell, no answer. 

I knew I was tired. I had been falling asleep on the bus. I sat on the carpet steps and relaxed into a deep sleep when no one answered the door bell. Charise and Alicia woke me up when they got out of the elevator one-half hour later, and we all walked through the apartment door. That is when I discovered Wyona was home, asleep in her bed, too tired to hear the buzzer from downstairs or the chimes from the button on her flat door. 

You will have to decide who which of us needed the sleep more – she who couldn`t lift herself from her bed on the ring of a doorbell, or me who can sleep on a bus or the inner apartment flight of stairs.

Wyona had tickets for Les Mis tonight: 3 tickets, Alicia, Charise and herself. I got a call at 7:10 pm. Wyona had forgot her glasses and she was in the Royal Circle. I dropped the fork into my scrambled eggs and ran for the bus. I got there at 7:29 pm, remembering that I had no key to get back into the apartment. But I had a back-up plan. I was going to ride the double-decker buses all night until I was sure Greg would be home or the Pillings would be back from Dover.

But Wyona was ahead of me. I gave her glasses to the woman at the concession counter and the woman traded me them for a set of keys to the flat. But I have learned a person can change their mind multiple times in one hour. So, on the way home, I decided I would stop in and get me a ticket at Thriller. Four Royal Theatres are in a row on Shaftsbury Avenue: Thriller, Hair, Les Mis and a play called All My Sons. Breathless from my run to get Wyona`s glasses to her on time, I slipped into the queue at another of the theatres, bought a concession ticket and then noticed my ticket was for Hair and not Thriller. Damn, I thought, even though i am trying not to swear. I am not up to being four rows from the front for Hair – that puts me almost on stage and for sure in the area where the performers walk along the arms of the chairs.

Though the money was out of my hands and into her cash box, the tickets had not yet reached my hand. I said to the girl, `Sheesh, I thought I was at Thriller not Hair. Is there a chance I have my money back`` She refunded me my £25. I never did listen to Michael Jackson, and in retrospect, I have to ask myself why I was even thinking about going. On the other hand, there isn`t much left for me to see in London in the way of first-time musicals: Thriller and We Will Rock You. So I will probably slip in there again, given I can make my way through the right theatre door.

At any rate, I did my good deed for Wyona for the day – these musicals aren`t much fun without a good set of glasses.


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