Our continuing adventures in the UK! Check out Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 if you missed them.
Day 4: Monday, November 2
Steven and I met Warren and Simon at the British Museum around 11am (after another low-key morning eating cereal and hard-boiled eggs in our adorable studio). To get there, we walked down Gower Street. It was a lovely walk, and we passed a couple notable sites on the way. Unexpectedly, we wandered past RADA. Steven, of course, shouted “RAAADAAA” in true Tom Baker fashion.
We also discovered our hotel was only a block from where they shoot the exterior shots for Sherlock.
In fact, Bobo can show you just how close we were:
We decided not to tackle too much of the British Museum in one day. I was most interested in the Rosetta Stone and spent some quality time staring at it. It’s much thicker than I expected. We also took in most of the Egypt exhibit. Steven’s been to Egypt, so that was extra-exciting for him. Simon treated us all to coffee from one of the cafes in the lobby area, and Steven spent some quality time shopping in the gift shoppe.
After that, we walked over to Forbidden Planet, which is basically tat-mecca for geeks. I’m not one who likes having “stuff”, but it was neat to see all the geeky toys (though their selection of Doctor Who merch was much less than I’d been led to believe). My favorite part was, no surprise, the downstairs level. That’s where they keep the books. And there were many many. I think I spent most of my browsing time down there. I love looking for books by my friends, and I found tomes by several, including Paul Cornell, Kelly McCullough, and Graeme Burk and Robert Smith?!
Warren bought some Doctor Who “action dollies” for use in the delightful Bookshelf Doctors comic strip. Steven picked up a DVD of “The Underwater Menace” for our friend Ken, who we knew we’d see the next week, as he runs LI Who, the Doctor Who convention we headed for after our UK trip. I also convinced him to nab a little TARDIS filled with breath mints as an at-the-register impulse-buy. I didn’t purchase anything properly, but I did drop a pound into a Doctor Who vending machine. Sadly, all I got was a bunch of stickers. I don’t care for stickers, so I gave them to Steven.
We walked from there to lunch at a place called Joe Allen, a broadway-themed restaurant in the basement of an old building. I had some great shoestring fries and garlic butter, but like all the beef I had in the UK, my steak was tough and not particularly flavorful. Happily, Steven had one of many good veggie burgers along with some tasty, tasty fries.
We did some more wandering after lunch, and saw St Paul’s church (not cathedral), where Nicholas Courtney’s funeral was. I love the little old churches that are tucked around London. One moment you’re looking at a fairly modern building, the next, you feel you’ve stepped into another century altogether. It’s one of my favorite magical things about London.
Keeping with the Nick Courtney theme, we stopped at a pub in which he used to drink. I’ve forgotten the name of it, but it had lots of original fancy glass–lots of mirrors and light fixtures. If I’m not getting my stories mixed up, it was a gay bar even further back in its history. Steven ordered a lemonade. Lemonade there is not the same as here. It’s carbonated. And tastes more like lemon-flavored soda. Not sure how much actual lemon is involved.
After all that walking, we decided to head back to the room to nap/meditate/recharge our batteries (both figurative and literal).
That evening, Steven and I met up with the aforementioned Paul Cornell at another lovely little pub, the Royal George. Getting there was exciting, but only because the shine of London’s public transportation system hadn’t worn off. (Heck, it still hasn’t.) We took the tube to Charing Cross station and walked to the pub. It was our first trip out at night with no local to guide us, and we got there with next to no trouble. I had what I think was my best (non-Indian) meal in the UK. Who knew you could get great fried chicken, fries, and yam fries at a British pub? And Steven’s veggie burger was amazing–spicy chickpea and couscous served with an onion ring on it.
Paul kindly plied us with drinks, and we had all manner of delightful conversation about Doctor Who, London, and ever-so-much more. Then Paul took us to his club, which was theatre-themed and another slightly-underground place (literally, as in we had to walk down stairs to get in). We had lots more lovely talk, including the obligatory cricket conversation between a British cricket fan and the Canadian monster he inadvertently created. Pleasingly, there was enough general chatter sprinkled in that I was also able to contribute from time to time. We promised to come back and let Paul take us on a tour of the Cotswolds someday. I plan to live up to that promise.
On the way home we stopped at Sainsbury’s to top up our groceries. I always get munchy after drinking, and I wanted something to snack on while we channel-surfed the rest of the night away.
The novelty of seeing British tv in Britain was overwhelming, and we watched telly until very late. We were thrilled to see the then-new episode of It Was Alright in the 70s, and not just because we’d spent the past couple days with its exceptionally-talented series producer. We also randomly caught David Tennant hosting Have I Got News for You, a show I’d heard of, but didn’t know much about. It was very British and unlike anything I’ve seen here at home. I enjoyed it though, especially once they started talking about news stories I was somewhat familiar with. David Tennant has great comic timing, and I found it hilarious.
It was difficult to make ourselves turn off the telly and try to sleep, but at some point, we managed. A good thing, because Tuesday was still to come!
That pub we went to after Joe Allen’s was The Salisbury on St Martin’s Lane, adjacent to the Noel Coward Theatre. According to Google it’s a Victorian pub on a former prize-fighting site, famous for its original etched glass and carved mahogany. As Wikipedia will tell you, it was well known as a gay-friendly pub from Oscar Wilde’s time up until the mid-1980s. What’s more, in 1979 the serial killer Dennis Nilsen attempted to murder a Hong Kong student called Andrew Ho that he had met in The Salisbury. Nilsen’s is a grisly old story and no mistake, you may find it interesting to look up… He lived less than half a mile away from Nicholas Courtney in Crouch End. Obviously Nilsen & Courtney have nothing else in common, I mention him only because his name cropped up in your blog. Though I did once see Courtney having a pint in The Salisbury in the late 90s ;-)
You see, ladies and gentlemen? This is the kind of delightful story my whole trip was littered with every day I spent with Simon! I never want to do London without him. <3 <3