The subject didn’t come up too often, but whenever I mentioned to anyone in London that I was Canadian, the general blank stare non-response was more often than not the reaction that followed.
Canada? The Londoners whom I met seemed to know less about my home country than your average American, and that’s saying a lot.
One lad, who served us fish & chips on our last full day during an interesting visit to the Brixton neighbourhood, didn’t know much about Quebec (I mistakenly told him that Quebec was larger than Europe; where did I get that? Quebec is 15% the size of Europe). When I told this chap, who hails from Ireland, that Quebec was just east of Ontario he piped in, “Oh, Ontario. That’s where Neil Young comes from.”
Other than that, it was pretty quiet on the Canada recognition meter. One saleslady did say that she had loved Montreal during a visit in March. Great!
It was very cold, she said.
The Rebuilding of a City
There were cranes everywhere to be seen in London, no matter which direction you looked. And these were not the ordinary cranes that we see in Montreal, but giant towers with twin vertical meshes going up to the heavens. It looked like Babel.
Whole roads were closed up for construction; pylons were everywhere.
21st Century Musicals
Naomi and I saw two plays in London which put us back about $400 CDN. Even the movies were super expensive, about $25 per person per ticket.
One of the plays was either an entertaining (if you can understand cockney spoken from a distant stage, which I couldn’t) dramatic comedy or a humorous drama commenting on the state of the modern-day British education system (a mess, apparently).
The other was a musical which debuted on Broadway early last year, a “biography” of Carole King. It was entertaining and toe-tapping, although I couldn’t stand the overdone “New Joisy” accent of the lead actress, Katie Brayben, who, incidentally, won an British award for Best Actress. When she sings she sounds like Carole King, when she talks, she sounds like a character from the reality show Jersey Shore, but worse.
Looking around at the plays available in the West End, I noticed a similar trend: Take a successful singer or group, and make a play about him/her/them. There is Memphis: “Inspired by true events, the show tells the story of soul music in the underground nightclubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee”; Jersey Boys about the iconic 1960s rock group The Four Seasons; there’s Thriller Live, with tune after tune of The Jackson Five “belted out” for your enjoyment; Sinatra, the Man & his Music “celebrates one of the world’s greatest entertainers, 65 years after he made his UK debut on the same stage”; Mama Mia with songs from ABBA; The Commitments, about “the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced”; Dusty, “…celebrating the career of Dusty Springfield, a true innovator”; Sunny Afternoon, based on the group The Kinks (which we almost saw instead of Beautiful.
Now, there are still a lot of musicals based on more fictional “realities” like The Book of Mormon and Wicked, based on The Wizard of Oz.
Phew, thank God!