Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cool Hand Luke

Well, it is 'term break' here in London.   Quite a new concept for me, I will admit.  The wierd part is not the notion that you might have a break in the term.  it is rather the notion that, after only 6 weeks of school, the kids would get a full week of holidays.  A full week?!    And we get THREE of these things this year?!  
Christmas came early

OK.  So... what to do during the break?  Lots of the kids and their families went off to travel during the break.  But... having travelled a long ways just to get HERE, i thought we would just stay the course, hang out here in London and do a couple of things.  Monday was "XBox Day".  yes... after months of begging, Steve finally relented, and found a second hand XBox with a bunch of games. Many happy hours were thus spent by both boys, reaquainting themselves with the worlds of Halo, Call of Duty and Fable. 

Tuesday, we headed out to see the new Tintin movie.  What I learned from the experience is that going to see a matinee during term break is a psychotic parental choice.  The movie theatre does not hire extra staff, but every child in a 10 kilmeter radius was there:  I stood for 45 minutes in the lineup to get drinks for the boys.  A good thing we were there early, AND that they run at least 25 minutes of previews and commercials before the film starts. Crazy.  On the positive side of things, we all enjoyed the movie.  We also concluded that snowy and kiwi are kindred spirits... and that snowy even SOUNDED like kiwi.   that was fun.

Wednesday, I decided it was time for a bit of 'culture', so i got us tickets to see another musical, this time:  "Cool Hand Luke".  Yes, you heard me right.... Cool Hand Luke as a musical!  I grew up with the iconic image of Paul Newman in the movie version of this story (of the war hero who ends up on a Florida chain-gang), so was looking forward to see what would happen in the translation of the book to stage instead of screen. 
Dinner at Smollensky's

As usual, we met up with Steve downtown, and tried out a new restaurant on the Strand.  It was a bit higher end than many of the pubs we have been trying out, so it made me laugh that Duncan still chose his standard pub fare (bangers and mash)!  Still, we had fun.  We ended up being seated right by the piano player (who started her jazzy set about 10 minutes later).  We had a protracted discussion about whether or not it is better to have live music or less noise so you can hold a conversation.  
Covent Gardens at night
We concluded that the answer depended on how interesting the conversation was!   :-)   Since we were playing the word game at the same time (the one that goes "I'm thinking of a word that rhymes with..."), we concluded that our conversation was indeed fabulous, and that it would be best to keep the piano player, but sit a few tables further away!   I left the boys at the table for 15 minutes to pick up our tickets from a friend waiting over by the Covent Garden Tube station.  Twillight was firmly upon us, and the streets were slick from an early rainfall.  You can't quite capture it in the photo, but try to imagine the lights reflecting off the rain soaked streets, with the sound of a musician in the corner playing Lakme, from Madame Butterfly, but on an eastern (japanese? chinese?) stringed instrument of sorts:  both beautiful and strange.  
Marquis at the Aldwych Theatre

Aldwych Theatre
So, tickets in hand, back to the restaurant to pick my three men, and then we joined the theatre crowds milling around on the streets, heading for anyone of the dozen theatres in the area.  We wandered around the corner, past the Waldorf Hotel, to the Aldwych Theatre.  You can read about the history of the theatre at this link:

I will say that Marc Warren did a pretty impressive job of  being"cool".   I had worried a little about how musical numbers would work for this prison story.  Perhaps wisely enough, none of the prisoners sing.  The music was more in the nature of background commentary via traditional spirituals and religious songs (ie. sometimes I feel like a motherless child, Down in the Falley, etc). We had tickets on row B, so we were close enough to see the tonsils on the women who provided the music for this bit of theatre.  It was interesting.  They did a good job of capturing the florida landscape, the feeling of the second world war in germany (well... the bombs made ME jump, that is for sure!), and the lingering PTSD suffered by the soldiers.  And the scene where Luke wins a bet that he can eat 50 hardboiled eggs in one hour?.... that one was probably worth the price of admission.  :-)
Sky above the Waldorf

Walking down the Strand
The evening over, we wandered back home.  The streets were still wet with rain, reflecting back the lights from the buildings and cars.  The sky was a gorgeous grey, and the weather still tolerably mild (in spite of the light sprinkle of rain).  We are still trying to figure out what to make of the very ending of the play... what does it mean when "the Boss" takes off his sunglasses at the end?!   Is he changed or not?  Who knows? 




  1. I have always thought snowy and kiwi were related! Without giving anything away,do you recommend Tintin, or is it billions of buckets of blistering barnacles?

  2. without giving anything away, we all had fun watching it.... Alex hopes they will make more of them in this style. The 'graphics' (animations? drawings?) are quite a delight. If you have every been a fan of Tintin, you should enjoy the moive (with all of its blistering barnacles)


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