Fancy Notes London special edition
|I went to London to watch "The Master Builder": a play staring Patrick Stewart and attend a gathering of PSN (Patrick Stewart Network : his official fan club). This is a report on my six days trip alone in foreign country for the first time. There was not a lot of sight seeing, or gourmet's menu in that trip. But I was completely satisfied with it.|
|24th July 2003
Departure ~ Arriving at a hotel
The first meal in London...
25th July 2003
Watching a Turner collection at Tate Britain
26 July 2003
The theater district like Asakusa-Rock!
Watching "The Master Builder"
Where is the hotel?
Backwater from a drain!
27 July 2003
Black pudding...and "carp"
Mr. Patrick Stewart!
|28 July 2003
Trafalgar Square ~ Covent Garden
Fish & chips at British Museum
Comic book shop
Charing Cross Road...A lot of book stores!
Japanese Sushi Selection
Papaya Suzuki on the English TV show
29 July 2003
Theater Museum and saying farewell to Albery Theater
After the trip
This is my room. There is a sliding door that leads to a bathroom on the left side. The door was fully covered with a mirror. The mirror was effective in having guests forgetting its narrowness. I nearly crashed against it several times.
| 24th July
Departure ～ Arriving at
first meal in London...
Shakespeare Tower at Barbican Theater.
I encountered the old couple near there.
|25th July 2003
Rainy, clear up in the evening
a Turner collection at Tate Britain
Earl's Court Station.... for a memory of trouble
Both the Circle Line (A very plain name! It's a loop line.) and the District Line served the nearest Tube station to my hotel.
And the District line diverged into another direction from the loop that my station belonged to, at a certain point. I took the wrong line. Then I had to go back to the fork station and transfer to the right line. The accident happened at the fork station.
When I was waiting for the train, I heard an announcement. That was heard like this. "....emergency.... all passengers.... leave this station immediately...." I couldn't hear it in any other way. But other passengers were calm as if they had not heard the announcement. I was puzzled. But station attendants started to usher us out of there at last. A lady in front of me, asked a station attendant. "How long it takes to retrieve?" He said "I hope it's only ten minutes." I had heard the Tube often stops. Is this the case that I heard?
In front of the station, passengers were just waiting. It seemed they didn't intend to go somewhere else to find other transportation at all. No one complained about this accident. Maybe that was quite usual to them.
But a fire engine was coming. And another two fire engines! Is this an unusual accident as I expected? Somehow I was excited, and prepared my camera. After several minutes, fire fighters were chuckling when they returned from the station. It seemed to be not serious. But the station's entrance was still closed. Some station attendants came out of the station, and started to explain something. I couldn't understand completely. Passengers fell away from there. What should I do? My destination was just the next station. But I didn't know if I could get to there on foot. I was set on asking. "Excuse me, I'm going to High Street Kensington. What should I do?!" That man said I should go to the opposite side of the station, and find a bus stop, and get on a bus. What? My guidebook had said like this. They don't announce the next bus stops. So ask a driver to tell you when you should get off. I had avoided buses, because I hadn't been able to have a confidence on my English!
But I had no choice. I saw a bus map at the bus stop. It was only three more bus stops to Kensington High Street. I thought, it's a piece of cake! All I have to do was to count bus stops during the ride! I took out my conversation phrase book (It was lucky that I was bringing it.) and asked a driver "Does this bus go to....", and I got the correct bus. I counted three, and got off, but.... It was not the place I expected. I realized the bus map hadn't told me every bus stop. I tried it again with the next bus. Fortunately, I found a familiar sight while I was looking out of the window. And I finished the unexpected adventure without a conversation with a driver. My stroll helped me in a way I had never imagined!
A hard day's dinner.
I can't forget the set of three Japanese style salads I got at Marks & Spencer for dinner. They were a Teriyaki chicken salad, green leaf salad with Teriyaki dressing, and soba noodle salad flavored with Teriyaki taste. The Soba salad was most weird. It was just sweet taste. They said that was Teriyaki flavor. I wondered if "Teriyaki" was familiar to them. (Because the initial letter was capitalized!) Maybe this taste was easy to be accepted by the country has many sweet dishes. But I can't say it was true "Teriyaki" taste! However, I found the explanation amusing. Please take a look at the explanation.
1. Sliced Teriyaki chicken breast
on a bed of Japanese style salad vegetables
|26 July 2003
Cloudy, Rainy toward evening
The theater district like Asakusa-Rock!
The theater faced to St.
Martin's Lane. Along the lane, there were The Cinema
Store and The Cinema Book Shop. The Cinema Store was full
of figures and movie magazines. It looked like a paradise
for Otaku. ("Otaku" means maniacs. We often use
this word to mean enthusiastic fans of comics or
animation or science fiction.) And The Cinema Book Shop
had a line-up of videos and books of studying movie. So I
had planned to buy Nemesis figure that I hadn't seen
directly in Japan, but it was not there. There were a lot
of products of Road Of The Rings. It was the same as
In the neighborhood, there was Tesco Metro, a supermarket chain. I couldn't miss it since I 'm a fan of Mr. Oosugi, and a supermarket-lover. If I compare Marks & Spencer with Saty or Ito-Yokado (Japanese supermarket chains), Tesco Metro could be compared to Seiyu or Sotetsu-Rozen (Japanese supermarket chains, a little smaller than the former one). I noticed all cashiers were African. I bought a Danish pastry including cheese and bacon, bottled water, (I got Tesco Metro's original product!) and a map book "London A to Z", and "Delight" (a dessert mix for kids) for souvenir. While walking, I got to a circular stone placed at a crossroad. Then I sat down among people there, and had lunch. I fed pieces of my pastry to pigeons.
"The Master Builder"
I went down the stair to
the stalls. Inside of the theater was dark, so an usher
stood by the entrance, and said "Mind your last step"
or something to each of us. The brochures were sold at
inside of the theater, not at entrance. They sold peanuts
and some sweets too. It's very interesting.
But, the price was not low.
Stalls were forty pounds. One pound was 190 ~ 200 yen at
that time, so it was about 8000 yen. In my case, the
charges for Japanese and British agent were added, so the
total came to 12300 yen. (I had no choice except it
because I had no credit card. If you pay by credit card,
you could get more reasonable ticket) When I compared it
to the first class of Kabuki-za theater (it's 14000yen or
more), I didn't feel it expensive. But the ticket agent
was surprised with the price and said, "it's the
same as big musical like Phantom Of The Opera. A straight
play is usually more inexpensive than a musical, but this
is reasonable since it's a big name's performance."
I had no complaint.
In the play, there was no
music and sound effects. The impression was so orthodox.
It didn't seem to have been arranged. The script was
written about a hundred years ago.
Anyway, the play was very good for me. While seeing Patrick Stewart saluting to audience at the curtain call, I felt he was an "actor" rather than a "Hollywood star". I was so glad. Most audience seemed to be middle-age. Perhaps it was because the show was a matinee on a weekday.
The detail of the play is
After the play, it was raining. I was planning to attend the fan club's pre-event. A social gathering for the fan club members arranged at a hotel's suite. I had sent a mail "I'm going to visit you after seeing the play." to the club. I realized it had been reckless when I considered my English ability. Anyway, the venue was Holiday Inn Bloomsbury, near to Russell Square, the third station from Leicester Square. I found a Holiday Inn on my guidebook, and went to the place. When I visit the room.... no one was there. I knocked, but no one responded. I went to a reception and saw the hotel's brochure. The hotel's name was "Holiday-Inn London Kings Cross/Bloomsbury. It looked a bit different. And address was.... wrong! It was reasonable even if I was depressed, because I already had walked a considerable distance! But somehow, I was encouraged and my timidity was blown away.
turned back and I reached London University. I seemed to
have walked a bit excess distance. (After the trip, I
knew the university was Soseki Natsume's university. I
should have watched more carefully!) And I finally got to
the hotel. The map that I bought at Tesco Metro was so
It was a hard day again. When I got to my room, I felt a big tiredness flooded into my body. But somehow, I was satisfied to have accomplished a lot of things with English. My brain seemed very simple.
from a drain!
Post cards that I received at the Gathering.
|27 July 2003
A beautiful day
I got on the Tube. At the
next station, a macho man who wearing sleeveless shirt
and a pierced earring in his left ear, got on my train.
He had a tattoo in his right arm. The tattoo was Japanese
character "鯉"... It means "carp"!
I couldn't escape from the strange sight because he stood
in front of me. He was facing right, so I had to face his
tattoo. … 鯉!?
I think there were about 120 to 130 attendees. We occupied only a half of the first floor. (I guess you can imagine the theater was not huge.) Seats were decided according to dates of postmarks on reservation envelopes we sent. They seemed to consider fair seating. The front row was empty, and there was a stool between the stage and seats. It was for Mr. Stewart. My seat was in the second row, the second from the left. I was able to watch him without any efforts because it was the front row practically. In the right side of me, there was a pair of young girls who looked like students of junior high school. (I'm not sure... They often look older than Japanese in the same age.) In the left side, there was a middle-aged lady. I would have talked to her if I had confidence in hearing native speaker's English. But I didn't. It was because I had realized the limits of my English ability at the entrance.
Stewart arrived, club staff were talking in front of the
audience. It seemed that she named many countries, and
the attendee from the country replied to her. I could
hear "Finland". Then I felt she pronounced
"Japan… " and my name.
(She pronounced my name in a bit different sound.
After that, we enjoyed a lottery (one pound for one ticket) and an auction. I bought ten tickets for the lottery, and one of them came up. I got a big postcard of Locutus. (I love the shape of Locutus!) It was autographed too. I just looked on the auction. An autographed Picard figure of Nemesis priced beyond fifty pounds.
Mr. Patrick Stewart
Finally, Mr. Stewart appeared with a smile on his face! He was wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans, Nike's sneakers, and bringing a 500 ml PET bottle of Vittel. He was 63 years old, but looked active! He looked younger than Picard in Nemesis and Xavier in X-2. Perhaps his beard could make him look youthful. His thick arm surprised me! It seemed that he spent a lot of time in workout. But his voice was very gentle... Does he always speak in such a wonderful voice? I felt as if I was spellbound by his voice. We were allowed to take pictures with a flashlight, for the first ten minutes. So audience took pictures with continuous flashes. But he was talking during that ten minutes. I felt sorry about it, although it was allowed. Why don't we listen to his talk? …But I couldn't understand his talk... I took pictures...
He said "infection" or
something in the opening talk, and drank water very often.
I thought he was afraid of catching cold. After the trip,
I heard his understudy had replaced him in the former
week, since he got a throat infection. I think he was
talking about that. Understudies were introduced in a
brochure. I don't know if this kind of accident happens
often, but I am thankful that I could see his performance.
(But the understudy actor looked attractive too. Honestly
speaking, this roll requires an attractive actor.) When I
saw the play, Mr. Stewart's voice had no problem. It was
received questions openly, and answered kindly. I was
fascinated afresh by his gentle behavior. Someone in a
far back of me asked a question. But the voice was low.
Mr. Stewart tried to hear that again in a nearer place.
He came to the left side, setting his hand near his ear.
He was in front of me. I was uneasy. I felt it was rude
to gaze at him in a close distance. And I was ashamed to
blush. So I couldn't see his face, and looked down or
back. I was too self-conscious... I should have gazed at
him even if I blushed, or had a nosebleed, or lost my
I had expected a noisier gathering since I had ever read about some Star Trek conventions. But it was small, and calm gathering. I was especially impressed by attendee's good manners. I think it was because they were fans of "Patrick Stewart", not "Star Trek". Of course, they all must love Star Trek. (Especially "the next generation") They were not so young. (I'm in my thirties... not so young too!) I didn't see children at least. Mr. Stewart doesn't deny the possibility of farewell to Picard. I think it influenced them. They didn't seem to intend to stick to only one character. I think it is quite natural for fans of a so talented actor. Of course, I never saw a costume player. I have no idea if there are difference between Britain and America. But I liked their adult mood. And I thought I'd like to attend it again if it were usual for them. But I need to improve my English for the next opportunity!
|28 July 2003
A beautiful day
My main purpose
had finished. I felt relaxed. Then, I started to exact
sight seeing at last! First three days were almost rainy,
but it cleared since 27th July. I was even lucky. Hanging
my new digital camera from my neck, I was ready to play a
typical Japanese tourist!
I returned to the right
street. And I strolled toward Leicester Square dropping
by some bookstores and HMV. In Leicester Square, there
was a statue in the center, benches were set along to
radial short passes. The rest of the space was a lawn. A
Chinese woman was letting her son play there. In Japan,
this kind of bench is often occupied by homeless people
or other people. So it is rare that I can sit down. But
there were some empty benches in a peaceful atmosphere. I
took a seat and drank vittel.
The route from there to
Covent Garden had become familiar to me. It was because I
walked around there every day. I strolled into a kind of
flea market called Jubilee Market and Apple Market. There
were antique jewelry, antique illustrations like what I
bought, and other antique things.
& chips at British Museum
I ordered it as takeaway. The shop was a small restaurant, and there were a few waitresses. They had nothing to do because there was no visitor. The waitress who received my order was so pretty girl. She had a blond hair, wearing much makeup. I usually avoid this kind of girl in Japan because showy girls are often unkind. But she was so kind! She invited me to have a seat until my order was done. Yes, they fry it after taking orders. I was surprised because I was used to buying reheated snack foods that cooked a few hours ago. I brought it to British Museum, and had it for late lunch. There were vinegar, salt, ketchup and tartar sauce with it. I liked vinegar and salt. It was delicious!
I headed for Forbidden Planet that was facing the next street. It was bigger, and had good line-up of action figures. It was a exact paradise for Otaku! I was so comfortable there... The bottom of the shop was comic space. I had ever read that the shop had the biggest line-up in Europe. I lost myself in browsing. There were TinTIn and Snoopy, but Little Nemo was not. There were not French comics too. Maybe my taste is too retro. I found a TNG comic book, but after seeing real Patrick Stewart, it was not attractive to me.
There were Nemesis figures, but only viceroy. I was sorry. Instead of that, I got a small Picard doll. I couldn't stand the magnetism of its toy-like shape! Meanwhile, I got many interesting souvenirs for friends and myself. For example, a picture book of Thunderbirds, a mouse pad of The Search for Spock, original comic of Dick Tracy, etc.
When I was browsing, an African-British boy spoke to me in natural speed. I was upset because I couldn't understand what he said. Then I asked back. Since he wasn't smiling, I thought he was complaining of something... He tapped his wrist. he was just asking me the time! I was relieved, and showed my wrist watch to him.
The customers looked younger than the customers in Gash!.
They looked cooler than Japanese Otaku. For example, I found a girl who had short blond hair. Her hair was a very short bob that hung down to the level of her ears. And her nose was pierced, her clothes were made of leather. It is true that we tend to feel European people cool. But there was a particular mood different from Japanese Otaku people.
In London, they seemed to regard this taste as a part of counter culture. Cashiers were so friendly and polite. The cashier boy said, "Thank you very much." I think he was the only one who said "very much" in this trip. Perhaps it depended on each one's personality.
Charing Cross Road...A lot of book
Unfortunately, I was too
late to see his Othello. I have ever seen only photos and
reviews. But the story looked so interesting, so I read
the translation of the script, and I was involved with it
so deeply. It was not only classic, but also hot, and
passionate. I really regret that I missed his Othello!
In Charing Cross Road, I looked for some portfolio for my Titanic poster. I entered a stationery shop. An African-British clerk keenly said to me, "Are you all right!?" I was frightened, and looked at him. He said "You!" First, I instantly thought he was mistaking me for a shoplifter or something, but he clearly said, "Are you all right?"... I thought I might look so tired. I said, "I'm ok, thank you." Then I went out of the shop. After that, I looked at a mirror. My hair was disheveled, my face was oily, and my eyes were bloodshot. He must have been frightened when he saw my face.
Sushi selection, milk, strawberry with cream
I was exhausted when I got to High Street Kensington Station. I headed to Marks&spencer straight. I bought fresh strawberry (with fresh cream), milk, and their original sushi including California roll. The milk was one pint. It was the smallest one, but it was too much to me. (There was no refrigerator in my hotel's room) But I could drink it in two times. The inside of the container was caked with cream while it had been left. It seemed thicker than Japanese milk.
Recently, we can see California Roll in Japan. But I ate it for the first time. It was covered with white sesame instead of Nori. (a black seat of a sea vegetable.) The filling was shrimp and mayonnaise. But the taste was like a rice ball of convenience store rather than sushi. It dried up because I left it for a while, so it broke easily. It was hard to eat. I recognized that a traditional recipe has a natural reason. There were also salmon sushi, small norimaki, (a sushi roll wrapped in Nori) soy sauce, and a small piece of Gari (a pickled ginger.) I made a green tea with a teabag I brought from Japan. Green tea is necessary for sushi!
Suzuki on the English TV show
|The statue of Sherlock Holmes
||29 July 2003
Fair to rainy
Anyway, I went to Madame Tussaud's wax dolls museum. It was a popular tourist's spot for life-sized wax dolls of celebrities, and to take photos was allowed. I went there since I heard Mr. Stewart's doll was there! When I got to there, I was surprised at the very long line! It was exactly the tourist's spot! It took about an hour to get into the museum. Mr. Stewart's doll was in the first room. It had no beard, wearing a tuxedo. It was a wonderful work. I was able to feel as if I was really standing by him. It was free to touch him, hold him, or even kiss him! But I was well-behaved of course... I touched his right hand only. (Somehow, I felt it was rude to touch his face although it was only a doll... I mean, it was a lifelike doll!)
I took many photos, and I was satisfied. It was enough for me. I wanted to get out of the place immediately, but I had to walk through all rooms to exit. At the first room, there were also other famous actors. For example, Mel Gibson, Tom cruise, and others. They were positioned with natural poses on the floor. It was hard for me to recognize dolls and visitors, because they both seemed "foreigners" to me. I was frightened when I found that a person who was standing next to me was a doll.
politician's dolls were interesting to me. It was so
funny to watch tourists who were taking pictures with
Tony Blair and George Bush on the platform that had a
mark of United Nations. There were Gandhi, Dalai Bla-ma,
and even Sadam hussein...
Albery Theater's stage door
|Then I went to
Albery Theater to say farewell to the theater. I looked
at the billboard that had become familiar to me. And I
went to Leicester Square station through the short cut
behind the theater. I looked at the stage door with a
deep impression on the way. I was surprised because my
eyes were getting wet with tears. I had never thought I
was sensitive in this way. I sniffled and hid my tears. I
hurried to the station so that people who were walking
the path didn't think me a strange girl who was staring
the stage door with tearful eyes. Thank you so much, Mr.
Stewart. You gave me a chance to have these irreplaceable
Three middle-aged ladies group and a lady who was much the same age to me were together on the bus to Heathrow airport. The young lady's baggage's tag was stuck on my ticket together with my tag. So we were together until we picked up our baggage in Narita airport. Our seats were in the same line, but we hardly talked in the plane, because we were exhausted and slept so deeply. But we talked much in the airport. She was so friendly. I got a pleasant memory at the end of that trip.
In Heathrow airport, I bought a lemon cake and a cup of tea after some shopping. I intended to make them substitute for famous "British afternoon tea", because I hadn't had a time to have it during the trip. But I noticed a big mistake after I bought them. The cake was "made in France"! Oh... Anyway, I enjoyed them. Then my plane departed at 7:35 P.M. I hope to visit there again someday!
I couldn't have a famous "afternoon tea" in London.
So I bought a scone, clotted cream, and strawberry jam
at the supermarket near by, then I ate them in my house.
This tea is Earl Grey, of course!