Friday, 2 January 2009

New Year's Day

Happy New Year! One and all! Despite me starting the new year at least 12 hours later than any Australian readers - happy belated 2009!

I did not make it to midnight. I am ashamed but once again THE JET JAG - Also I finished watching "Chocolat" and was ready to drift into dreamland thinking of Johnny Depp.

Today we went to the British Museum. Getting all of our gear on we trooped our way out there to discover that the unimaginable had happened - it was closed. No wonder there were so many grumpy faces turning away from the gates. Darn this public holiday business. So we turned our grumpy faces away and said "Poo" to the gallery and instead ventured to the National Portrait Gallery which was very full - I think of people who were getting out of the cold and for a free exhibit (sound familiar? Hmmm).

The National Portrait Gallery is AMAZING. There are literally portraits of every monarch, blue blood, artist, writer, playwright, theorist, feminist and politician! After all my english studies I could finally put a face to the many names of authors I had studied: George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Johnathon Swift, Mary Shelly, Bryon, Keats, Mary Woolstencraft, Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen and many many more! I've forgotten right now but I was surprised at how many I knew... I suppose I do learn stuff at uni! Oh anyone who has studied drama with me will remember being told about Nell Gywn - Charles I (?) favourite actress and then mistress - saw her portrait! Very beautiful and started out as an orange seller.

The interesting thing about the Shakespeare portrait was that it was the only one in existence thought to have been painted from still life! He had an earring and everything. The painting of the Bronte sisters was intriguing as it was actually found years after their deaths rolled up on top of a cupboard in their house. It was a little worn and there is a figure painted out of the picture which was thought to be their brother Branwell who was... not the nicest family figure - very educational. Of course there were paintings of Henry VIII and all his wives, Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Mary I and so on and so forth. Walking through the gallery and reading about the lives of these individuals the women were given such a rough life. I read several notes on various women some who had had ten children, others with ten and only 4 or so surviving and others having eighteen miscarriages! The torment these women had to suffer all because of their sex!

After the gallery we managed to squeeze in and see "Les Miserables" which was very good and is the longest running show in London - 24 years! Not surprising because the actors knew what they were doing and it was very stirring and the Queen's Theatre is beautiful - the only photo I took today (not that I was actually allowed to but when I asked the usher said I shouldn't but it's okay, winking at me).

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