In a way very reminiscent of my student days, I switched guides from an accomplished musician to accomplished doctors for the rest of the day. Sandra, Sharmistha and I apparently formed a perfect Canadian flag with our red, white and red coats. After all these years as an honorary LSHTM member, I think by now I can also claim to be an honorary Canadian, eh?
(Note to the wise: Apostrophe serves real hot chocolate, the eat-with-a-spoon-kind. Eat your heart out, Paris.)
The afternoon began with a quick visit to the National Portrait Gallery, where we agreed that no, Kate Middleton’s portrait isn’t doing her any favours (if it’s supposed to be a realistic portrait with all the wrinkles and all -then why the blurry old-movie-glamour-shot look?). Then we kind of organised our own Best Of Covent Garden, the highlights of which were:
The always fragrant Tea House, filled with endless varieties of black, green, white or red teas, infusions, and tea-appropriate crockery. I stocked up on Jasmine tea and bought a type of Earl Grey to try out. If nothing else, it’s left my bag smelling delicious.
Stanford’s, which is like a candy story for travellers. Just walking in starts giving you ideas for trips. We went in to see if I could find a map of Kyoto, but we ended up looking at maps of Winnipeg and Toronto. I don’t rule anything out!
After fending off an aggressive salesman (seriously, kudos on the enthusiasm, but get off our backs), we ended up arriving early to our dinner at Woo Jung (well -one of them. The black one). To make time, we waited in a SUPER DODGY back alley nearby with a tattoo parlor and a loud-speaking Spanish band, while eating Korean crackers and trying to look hardcore.
Going to a Korean restaurant for Koreans with a Korean friend is heavenly, but the problem is that one day I’ll go on my own and realise I don’t know the names of any of the things I’ve had. I’ll just have to call you, Sandra.
To finish the day off in style, I hurried from the Centre Point down Shaftesbury Avenue to attend The Audience, the play where Helen Mirren plays the Queen once again. I find Dame Mirren infinitely more interesting than Elizabeth II, and indeed she really makes the role her own. I knew from her appearance in Graham Norton’s that it was a very dynamic play, but I wasn’t expecting how funny it is at times. (A very nice lady sitting next to me turned to me during intermission and said “Are you enjoying the play?” and I said “Very much, she’s really good” and she said “Do you live here?” and I said “I used to, but not anymore” and she said “Do you believe in Jesus, your father?” and I said “I think the show’s about to resume”). Richard McCabe and Dame Mirren have great chemistry, and their timing is impressive. Margaret Thatcher’s scene is hilariously over the top, but I was shocked to discover that they didn’t include Tony Blair. Is it because the scene would have inevitably devolved into farce?