Last Day in London: St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Wall, and the Museum of London

I arrived in London shortly after noon by train from Manchester, and had to make the critical decision about what to do with my last afternoon. I decided to combine two things that exist fairly close to each other: St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Museum of London.

As one docent put it, St. Paul’s claims the honor of being the people’s church. When great tragedy befalls England, people flock to the cathedral for solidarity, fellowship, and prayer. This version of the cathedral dates to just after the Great Fire of London in 1666, which took out most of the city proper. Redesigned by legendary architect Christopher Wren (who is interred there), building is constructed in the shape of a cross and contains the only dome of its kind.

The steps of St. Paul’s beckon to all (and are featured in Mary Poppins), and the day I was there, the space was reasonably crowded with visitors. Despite the crowd, the cathedral retains its status as a place of worship, as visitors are reminded on the hour with a moment of silence and prayers. I took the self-guided audio tour to learn about the art, architecture, and people of St. Paul’s, and I felt moved.

At the high altar, I lit a candle for those I have lost this year, including my mentor, Hazel Dicken-Garcia. I was moved to tears, and knelt in prayer until I calmed, before heading below to the crypt, cafe, and gift shop, to take a break.

Replenished, I walked up to the Museum of London. It’s a relatively short walk, though right at the site I got confused about where to go to get into the Museum itself. Finally, I figured out I had to go up, and that made all the difference. I found the escalator entrance that took me to the third level of the Museum, which built around the remnants of ancient city walls.

Inside, I wandered through exhibits that focused on the history of the city from its earliest roots. They feature artifacts from every period available, from the Neolithic to Roman, from Medieval to Victorian, and from Industrial to the present day. I think my favorite was the Victorian walk, set up to appear like a small neighborhood in Victorian London. I also enjoyed the current exhibition on women’s suffrage in London.

Finally, I wandered out along the old city wall path to get to Moorgate, the tube station that took me back to the train station for my left luggage. Utterly exhausted at this point, I opted not to take tube and train back out to Heathrow (near which I had hotel reservations) and chose instead to take the more expensive but less stressful taxi option. My driver was pleasant and the drive out went smoothly. Our route took us past the William Hogarth House and Chiswick Gardens, which I earmarked for my next trip.

Getting around: I chose to use public transportation for most of my trip. It’s relatively inexpensive (I spent about $50 on tube and bus fares over two weeks) and easy to figure out. Put your walking feet on, though. And if you have mobility issues, be aware that not all tube stations have handicapped accessibility. I took a lot of stairs, and that did take a toll on my aging knees. Still, it was overall a great experience.

Last Day in Manchester: Museum Of Science And Industry and Castlefield

For my last full day in Manchester, I decided to head to the Museum of Science and Industry, a museum that grew around the oldest train station in the world.

The 1830 station is currently closed for refurbishment and exhibition installation, so that was a bit disappointing. However, to make up for that lack, the museum currently houses Stephenson’s Rocket, the engine that won the Rainhill trials to become the model for the train engines that would service the brand new Liverpool-Manchester trainline.

It’s the kind of item that has something of a folk status in Manchester, so the crowds around the engine for each of the six presentation talks given about it during the day were relatively thick. We learned that the engine, once yellow, had gone black with age, and we learned about the missing bits that had been repurposed into other train engines.

Beyond the Rocket, however, I found a lot more to appreciate about the museum. An entire section deals with the history of the textile industry in Manchester, and focuses on the process, equipment, and social issues surrounding the incredibly fast increase in population as workers flooded to Manchester for jobs at the turn of the 19th century. There’s also an area full of fun experiments and activities for children to try.

Other exhibits include the first programmable computer, built by two Manchester scientists, a Power Hall full of the machinery designed to create and get power to other machinery as part of the Industrial Revolution, and a look at the 1830 warehouse, across the tracks from the 1830 train station, that remains the oldest in Manchester.

The Air and Space Hall, across the street and affiliated with the Museum, also was closed for repair. But as I wandered away, I found a section of the city that I’d hoped to see and sort of forgotten: Castlefield.

The reconstructed North Gate of the old Roman fort faces a small square that includes a weathered foundation reconstruction of original Roman village. I wandered around those foundations, took pictures of blooming tulips and of the Gate, and continued my wandering.

Manchester will be a place I return. The warmth of the people, the rich history of the area, and the excellent access to city amenities make it an ideal destination. I look forward to bringing my own children some day.

Day 5 in Manchester: Chetham Library, Manchester Cathedral, and Pub Lunch

Saturday in Manchester brought tickets to a walking tour of the oldest public and free English-speaking library in the world: Chetham Library.

The original complex was built in 1420 to form a collegiate church in Manchester, and thus, it has been part of an institution of learning for that long. The facilities themselves are medieval–part of what drew me there–but the library itself made my happy little bibliophile heart hum. Rows and rows of books enclosed by glass covers, all under the medieval timbered room, beckon all “scholars and all others afflicted” to visit, read, and study.

That line, “scholars and all others afflicted,” spoken by our guide Jonathan Schofield (who sounded as though the phrase was in quotes for him, too) struck me as a phrase that characterizes scholarship as madness, which, fair enough. The stools in the library, adorned with a carved letter “S” in each seat, paid homage to the idea of “scholar” and were, Schofield assured us, original to the library. Also original? A collection of chained books so valuable at their donation in 1655 that scholars were required to read them in place.

Our tour of the medieval buildings culminated in the library’s reading room, which played host once to such notable minds as Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Disraeli, Fredrich Engels and Karl Marx, the latter two of whom spent most of their time in an alcove now marked as the site of their study. The reading room itself was likely the bedchamber of John Dee, who served as the Warden (or Headmaster or Director) Of Chetham from 1595 to 1605. Dee, of course, is well known for his occult scholarship and advice to Elizabeth I.

I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, and I took numerous pictures.

After the tour, Eddie and I went for pub lunch at Old Wellington, a nearby pub that claims the honor of oldest building in Manchester. It existed as early as 1552. We sat for lunch on the second floor, overlooking a courtyard packed with people enjoying a pint and sunshine.

They’re famous for pies, apparently, and so that’s what I got for lunch. Mine was a ham, chicken, and cheese pie in a short crust with puff pastry topper, served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and steamed veggies. Service was quick, food was delicious, and the ambience warm and social.

After lunch, we wandered over the courtyard to the Cathedral. We spotted actress Sophie Thompson in the courtyard, and she graciously held the door for us as we all went through. We left her to her business, but we did do some quiet fan-girling after the fact. Ms. Thompson currently stars on the British television program Coronation Street, filmed in Manchester.

The Cathedral was beautiful. It was bombed in World War II, and lovingly restored. Patrons over the years have donated funds to restore many of the stained glass windows, and a recent fundraising campaign also led to the installation of a lovely new organ, which was being played while we were there.

We wrapped up our day by wandering down Deansgate to the John Rylands Library again, this time to see the just-opened Peterloo Massacre exhibit therein. Staff did a marvelous job with the documents and other materials they displayed to tell that story, including original handwritten and printed accounts of the day and its aftermath. I highly recommend a visit.

Last day in Manchester, coming up.

Days 2 and 3 in Manchester: Archives, a Walking Tour, and Tapas for Dinner

My primary purpose for this trip, of course, was to gather materials for my ongoing research project, which focuses in general on the community-building function of media. In particular on this trip, I had intended to investigate the Manchester Guardian-turned-national newspaper, something that I still think a good idea.

But on my first day here, visiting the People’s History Museum, I stumbled across a working-class publication that was printed during four critical years in British history, and the archive maintained at PHM. Accordingly, I have spent the last two days acquainting myself with that period’s history, the struggles of the working-class, and the British press during that period.

I also digitized a significant chunk of the newspapers’ archive with which to continue my work.

So Day 2 in Manchester found me in St. Peter’s Square, looking for the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst, at which I was to meet a walking tour group that promised a look at Manchester’s political roots and history.

Pankhurst, a pioneering suffragette, is said to have founded the militancy of the suffrage movement right there in Manchester. Her statue features the petite woman standing on a kitchen chair, arms outstretched as if to rally a crowd, and the half-circle of stone at her back reads, “Rise Up Women!”

(I’ve been unable to shake a tune from Mary Poppins from head, ever since. “We’re clearly soldiers in petticoats, and dauntless crusaders for women’s votes; though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they’re rather stupid; …. Political equality and equal rights with men! Take heart, for Mrs. Pankhurst has been clapped in irons again!”)

The statue was a good place to start the tour, and the guide, Ed Glinert, was clearly knowledgeable about the political events in Manchester and the Peterloo Massacre, in particular. After a stop at town hall to see Pankhurst’s portrait in collage, and a look at the Peterloo memorial in a kind of walkway between it and the adjoining building, he headed us off to the site of the Peterloo Massacre itself. Manchester Central now rests on the site of the field that in August of 1819 saw peaceful protesters (agitating for universal suffrage) mercilessly struck down by an army of thugs hired for the purpose.

Glinert brought us to the site, discussed its history, showed us the place where the stage (built of two wooden carts spliced together) had been, and then walked us through the Radisson Blu, which now stands on that corner and retains memorials to the site’s history as a gathering place for protest. The Free Trade Hall stood there before it was torn down to make way for the hotel.

We walked down the steps where Christabel Pankhurst (daughter of Emmeline) and Annie Kenney were kicked out of a liberal rally there in 1905 after shouting questions about whether the party would grant suffrage to women. The tour continued through town to St. Ann’s Square, site of the first public vote in Manchester in 1832, and by sites of Friedrich Engels’ offices, the Working Man’s Church, and Crown Court (where the last judicial decision to execute a criminal in Britain was handed down in 1864). We finished at the People’s History Museum, of course, and I spent more time with the exhibits there.

(All told, I’ve been at the PHM three days this week in Manchester, and plan to go again on Saturday to see the Peterloo exhibit that opens then. Truly a remarkable find; thanks to my friend Edwina Higgins for recommending I start there!)

Day 3 in Manchester put me back in the archives at PHM to complete the collection of data, and I had a good chat with the archivists about the press and Peterloo. While Peterloo isn’t my focus this round, it is relevant to the press struggles that followed it, and to the founding of the Manchester Guardian. To be here this week, when two different exhibitions are opening about Peterloo, feels serendipitous.

I finished Day 3 with tapas for dinner at Tapeo & Wine with friend Eddie. I love tapas, and it’s tough to find in my home state, so I expected to enjoy the meal. I wasn’t disappointed at all.

Fresh assorted breads, including olive bread, a Manchego cheese board, roasted eggplant with feta, meat cannoli in bechamel, Spanish omelet with potato, olives, and a multi-textured chocolate desert with Irish Cream foam rounded out the meal. I’d forgotten how lovely it is to simply relax, and take my time eating, chatting, and enjoying the food. The Spanish music playing in the background gave way to a live guitarist somewhere during the course of the three hours we spent there, and the laid-back but friendly ambience made the experience a joy. I’d head here again in a heart beat.

Day 4 in Manchester is a writing day, so there won’t be much to share. But I’m heading out with Eddie again on day five to tour some other memorable spots in Manchester, and looking forward to it.

A Day in Liverpool: The Beatles Story, Albert Dock, and the Titanic

One of my favorite bands, to no one’s surprise, is The Beatles.

I generally enjoy British rock in general, but The Beatles remain the classic standard by which all others are measured. When I realized my stay in Manchester meant Liverpool would be just a fast train ride away, I knew I had to make the time to take a day trip there.

A day-return ticket to Liverpool runs about 20 pounds, depending on the time of day you choose to head out and back. Avoiding rush hour can shave the price of the ticket. I opted for an “anytime return” ticket because I wasn’t sure how much I’d accomplish in Liverpool or how much time it would all take, and that was under $30 U.S. The train itself was easily accessible, and the jaunt through the northern countryside toward the Irish Sea pleasant.

Upon arrival at Liverpool Lime Street station, I chose to take a taxi to Albert Dock, a series of buildings along the Mersey River heading to the Irish Sea that have been renovated into museums and shops. It’s also where the Beatles Story is housed.

At first glance, the line for admittance looked long, but I discovered it was comprised of two school groups. Once they were dealt with, it didn’t take long at all to get my ticket and audio guide. The museum is well laid out, chronologically, and the audio tour (which comes with the price of the ticket) allows visitors to listen to short audio clips at each station that tell more of the story of The Beatles. The guide also offers special videos and images along the way.

The Beatles Story features numerous artifacts that belonged to the band or to locations they frequented. George Harrison’s and Paul McCartney’s first guitars show up first, and then we see the front door to the club they played in Hamburg as they got their start, the offices of the Mersey Beat newspaper, and a reconstruction of The Cavern, the pub/club at which the band played the most in Liverpool. The club stage has been moved into the exhibit so the original can be viewed. The audio commentary tells visitors that the stage also hosted the Kinks and other British bands, which I thought was cool.

Visitors wind through Abbey Road Studios, see the Magical Mystery Tour bus, and end in a recreation of John Lennon’s white New York apartment. Along the way, of course, there’s music. I sat and listened to “Imagine” as it played in Lennon’s space at the end, and I remembered performing the tune myself. It remains, for me, an anthem of peace in a troubled world, and it was a song I needed to hear today.

After a stop in the gift shop, I went up on the dock itself to find lunch, and I did: Fish chips, because why not? And afterward, I meandered toward the Mersey Maritime Museum and the International Slavery Museum both of which are housed in the same dock building opposite the Beatles Story.

I have a fascination with the Titanic story, and I spent most of my time in the Maritime Museum going through the Liverpool side of that story. White Star Line, the company that launched the Titanic, was based in Liverpool, and the Museum contains numerous artifacts from the White Star Line and from the Titanic itself. It’s well worth the trip for anyone interested in that bit of history.

After a walk through the shops and along the water, my afternoon was waning and so was my patience, so I went back to Lime Street Station and headed back to Manchester.

Liverpool was a fun stop.

Day 1 in Manchester: The People’s History Museum, the Poor Man’s Guardian, and the John Rylands Library

I’m in Manchester to continue my research into how varied media can be used to facilitate and build community. My original thought, to work with The Guardian, which was founded in Manchester in 1821, still seems like a viable avenue for study.

But today, at the suggestion of a friend, I visited the People’s History Museum, and found a story that needs telling.

The People’s History Museum focuses on the history of protest, the growth of socialism, and the movements toward equal rights that have deep roots and history here in Manchester. The exhibits feature banners and other protest materials, an overview of protest movements in Manchester within national and global contexts, and a special focus on the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, an event during which peaceful protest was broken up in bloody fashion.

The 200th anniversary of Peterloo is this year, and numerous sites around Manchester are preparing exhibits surrounding the events. As I’m here to look at media history here, I’m excited that I’ve apparently–and accidentally–chosen an excellent time to come to Manchester.

As I went through the Museum, one thing stood out to me–a coffin stuffed with copies of a workers’ newspaper called the Poor Man’s Guardian. My interest piqued, I took myself down to the front information desk to discover the museum has a complete archive of the publication, which ran from 1831-1836 and directly engaged with protest against the law that restricted press content–passed in response to the Peterloo Massacre.

I spent hours digging through that archive, before fatigue sent in and I left for the day. This is the story I’ve found that needs telling to a broader audience, and I’m already crafting the first draft. I’m really excited.

Next, I stopped at the nearby John Rylands library to see its printing press, Gutenberg publications, and the oldest known shred of the New Testament (in Greek on papyrus). It’s well worth the trip for the bibliophile, and I found some great examples of type for use in my visual principles of mass media course.

It was a busy day, but I look forward to heading back this week to continue gathering my research data.

Tomorrow, though, I’m taking a bit of a break and heading to Liverpool. It’s time to see about the Beatles experience.

Day 3 in London: The British Museum, Cream Tea, and A Walk around Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia

One of the great things about the hotel I stayed in for my trip to London is its central location, near the University College of London on Gower Street. It’s a few blocks from the British Museum, in an interesting neighborhood called Fitzrovia, and within quick walking distance from two different Underground stations.

So for my third full day in London, I chose to spend my time exploring the neighborhood a bit, and I started off with a trip to the British Museum.

The last time I was in England, 26 years ago, I’d set aside a Saturday for the Museum only to find, once I’d gotten there, that a bomb threat had forced its evacuation for the day. Therefore, it fell into the realm of “things I hadn’t seen” in London, and I made it a priority stop.

The line to get in to the Museum seemed long at first glance but moved quickly. In no time at all I was walking through the front door, buying a guide book, and making a plan of attack for my visit. The place is huge, so seeing it all in one trip is nearly impossible, and I decided I wouldn’t try. I opted to pick a few exhibits I was most interested in, and spend the time really exploring those things.

I started off in the rooms that focused on British history, and I stepped into the medieval period. The collection there includes jewelry, coins, and other fine artifacts from the Isles, and I was drawn to a ring that once was worn by Richard I (Lionheart) and to a cache of gold coins. (In fact, I started to think treasure hunting in the United Kingdom could be a viable career, what with all the hordes and caches of coins and jewelry found around the island and displayed there.)

I also viewed the Sutton Hoo helmet, and numerous artifacts from various periods in British history.

I took a break then, and had cream tea. Cream tea is fairly unique to Britain, and it includes tea, a scone, clotted cream, and strawberry jam. The scones at the Museum were plump and bursting with sultanas, and the clotted cream tasted as good as I remembered. It’s something I can’t find in the States, but love when I can get it.

After tea, I headed to Rome and Greece. Well, not literally, but I walked through the rooms with the artifacts that featured Ancient Rome and Greece, past the Egyptian mummies, and up to the fourth level to see the special exhibitions, one on postcards and another on Rembrandt drawings. The exhibitions were in adjoining rooms, and, paired together, made for an interesting juxtaposition of art, class, and social change.

A trip through the shop for samples for future class display, and I headed back out the door to walk through the Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia neighborhoods.

Numerous blue heritage signs dot the front walls of varied residences through the neighborhoods, indicating locations of significant historical interest. My favorite sign along the walk was for a renowned hostess, Lady Ottoline Morrell. I’d never heard of her, specifically, but the idea of a society matron whose life centered around providing a space for literary folk to gather, socialize, and share ideas has great appeal. I looked her up when I got back to my room, to find she’d hosted numerous gatherings of the famous Bloomsbury group, which included Virginia Woolf. I found her designation of “Literary Hostess” truly aspirational.

A wander through the neighborhood shops turned up several interesting bookstores and souvenir places, as well as some tasty-looking menus. I stopped for a delicious dinner at a small Italian restaurant, called Marciello RC, which is housed in a renovated and reclaimed petrol station. Known for its steak, the restaurant features dry-aged beef. I wasn’t interested in anything too heavy, so I opened for the beef-and-spinach stuffed ravioli with house ragu of beef shoulder, and it was utterly delicious.

I headed back to my hotel to get off my feet. When I booked the Ridgemount Hotel, I’d placed my trust in numerous positive reviews online, and I wasn’t disappointed. Everything was impeccably clean, the service stellar, and the location couldn’t be beaten. It even included full English breakfast.

It was perfect for my needs, and I’d stay there again in a heartbeat.

Next stop: Manchester. Day 4 featured a train ride and a catch up with an old friend.

Day 2 in London: The Tower, Westminster Pier, and the Thames

As I planned this trip, I tried to focus on things I had never done before. As a student in England in 1992, I managed to cover a lot of ground, and that did include large swaths of London itself.

That said, I decided to revisit a favorite spot: the Tower of London.

I’ve always been drawn to the Tower. I have distant British royal ancestry, if the records are accurate; my last direct ancestor on the throne was Edward I, Longshanks, Hammer of the Scots. I didn’t know about this family history when I was last here, but this time around, I did. When I saw that one of the self-guided audio tours for the Tower focused on the life of Edward and his father, Henry III, I opted to do that, first.

The tour took me into a section of the complex that I don’t remember climbing before, up along the battlements on the side of grounds facing the Thames. Henry built his medieval palace construction there, away from the central White Tower. I walked up a flight of stairs along the wall and into the main receiving hall for the king, which was flanked by a tower at a corner and featured an enormous fireplace. Broad wooden beams kept the high ceilings safe under the heavy guns that would have rested on top of the roof.

The room itself lacked the luxury it would have had in the thirteenth century; its wooden floors and clean brick-and-stone walls would have been the same, but they would have been covered with carpets and tapestries against the chill. The large room adjoining the private hall, Edward I’s bedroom with small adjoining chapel, remains furnished as it might have been in his time.

It’s an odd feeling, walking in the footsteps of ancestors who lived hundreds of years ago.

I enjoyed the tour, which also included re-enactors in Edward’s chambers talking to school groups about the castle’s construction. In fact, there were numerous school groups present throughout the grounds, with older students discussing the bloody history of parts of the tower and younger students enjoying the Crown Jewels, and some of the specially tailored children’s activities (including knight’s training). I’m looking forward to bringing my own children here some day.

I revisited the execution site of Ann Boleyn and the prison of Beauchamp Tower; I also revisited the study kept by Sir Walter Raleigh when he and his family were confined to the Tower under Queen Elizabeth I. I also enjoyed the peek at the ravens of the Tower, and the walk along the Thames after my visit that culminated in amazing fish and chips from Josef’s stand.

I debated my next move from there, but as I was fairly tired from walking all those battlements (and up and down miles of twisty medieval staircases–I’d forgotten the sheer number of steps that go along with exploring castles and castle-like structures), so I decided to take advantage of the pass I had to take a Thames River cruise.

This meant first taking the Tube down to Westminster Pier to collect the ticket associated with my London Explorer Pass, which was no trouble. Once at Westminster Pier, I took note of the protesters on the square near the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, and promptly turned down toward the water, instead. I collected my ticket, then headed down to the water to board the City Cruises boat.

The river cruise was definitely a first for me, and it afforded me the opportunity to take pictures from the water, which gave me some fantastic views, including a spectacular shot of the Tower featuring the Traitor’s Gate from the water. The boat took me back up the Thames to Tower Pier (I could have continued to Greenwich, but felt immeasurably tired at this point). I enjoyed the live commentary and the company of other Americans who sat with me by the front of the boat.

It was a good day.

Day 1 In London: Baker Street, Piccadilly Circus, and Betrayal

While it’s actually my second day in London, I lost a day to jet lag and poor decision-making, so today was the first day I spent out and about.

I knew going into the day that I had an afternoon commitment, so I focused on spending the morning doing one thing I’ve wanted to do for some time: I visited 221B Baker Street, the Sherlock Holmes Museum. I have been a fan of the mystery stories for a very long time, and the Holmes stories stand out as an exemplar of the best there are. With the recent resurgence in Holmes’ popularity, due in large part to the Robert Downey Jr. films and BBC’s Sherlock, I have been joined by many others. The original stories have also made their way into the public domain at this point, so people who are interested in recreating, retelling, or otherwise reusing the Holmes premise are welcome to do so, within reason.

That said, the Baker Street museum, as a living representation of a fictional space, was a fun stop for the true Holmes fan. Set up in rooms that actually were used as a lodging house during the period Holmes purported to live there (1881-1904), the museum features Holmes’ study, furnished with period furniture as well as his violin, chemistry set, and other notable artifacts from the books. His bedroom adjoins the study, and up a flight of stairs, visitors find John Watson’s room, furnished with writing desk and other necessities, and Mrs. Hudson’s room, which features glass cases filled with artifacts from the books.

Up another flight, rooms feature truly creepy mannequins made to look like characters from the books. I took a selfie with Moriarty, because I’m like that.

For a Holmes fan, it was a good stop. I also discovered that Baker Street Underground Station, recently refurbished, is a good place to regroup and seek a next stop. Literally.

I “hopped on” a tour bus to get out of a sudden drizzle, and it took me to the London Eye. After a quick off and back on again for pictures, I took the hop-on bus up through the old City of London to Tower Hill, catching some amazing shots from the upper deck when the sun came out. While I was familiar with the London history our tour guide, Christopher, imparted–quite well, and engagingly–I felt a bit like I was coming home when I saw the dragon that guards the entrance to the City. And I did see the new Millenium Bridge. And crossed the Thames three times–on the bridge to Waterloo, London Bridge, and Tower Bridge.

Assured by Christopher that no, I would not make it to Picadilly Circus by 1:30 on the tour bus, I hopped off at Tower Hill and took the Tube back to Picadilly for lunch, and to walk around the corner from there to the Harold Pinter Theater for the 2:30 production of Betrayal featuring Tom Hiddleston.

Hiddleston, who is better known to American audiences as Loki from the Marvel movies, remains a stalwart of the London stage, and in the 90 minute performance, I could see why. He’s incredibly expressive, and the play, with its cast of three, helped him demonstrate that. At one point, from my seat in the front row (dress circle), I could see tears reflecting in his eyes. The show was brilliant, and his fellow cast members, Zawe Ashton and Charlie Cox, do their roles justice. I was spellbound. And sort of patting myself on the back for blowing my theater budget on one ticket, because at least it was this show.

The review to which I linked above sums up the experience nicely, and includes photographs, which of course are a no-go in the theater.

On to adventures for Day 2.